“The Chair”

The Chair

“The Chair”

I was watching MLB Quick Pitch this AM and looked into my office and saw this chair of my Mother’s from when she was a kid. As you can see it broken. One of my sons brought it down stairs a few weeks ago, and asked me what to do with it, my first reaction was to trash it, but then I caught myself and said put it in my office, I will try to fix it! This morning I was looking at it looking at the chair and thought, that how most of us live our lives, we hold on to the past, even if it broken?

Many things in life are worth fixing, but we have to watch what we hold onto, most times we would be better served if we left the past in the past. Most of us hold onto the past with a vengeance, most of the BAD, and some of the good, mostly the BAD. Many of you can remember verbatim, some long ago hurt inflicted upon you by some other unconscious soul, LET IT GO! I see most of us hold onto the past, our past, and we think it’s real- HISTORY, but it’s not, it’s subjective at best, but most of us don’t realize that, we think our history is true?

For example, when my parents were alive about 10 years ago, my sisters and I were talking with my Mom and Dad about Christmas’s when we were children. So we were all reminiscing about the days of our childhood, and I was struck by how different our memories were, five of us all in the same house, all remembering things differently. Obviously, we usually remember things from our personal point of view, but the problem is we think that’s “history” or “true”? It’s subjective at best, and can be the source of much pain, at it’s worst.

The past is gone, can you hold onto the good memories, sure, but you hold on to the bad memories as your own peril. I see that much of the pain in this world comes from past slights, miss-spoken words, and the need to right all the time.

Jesus talks about living for today, and seeing with new eyes, the narrow path, all pointers to show us how to live in the here and now, for tomorrow has enough worries of its own!

Jesus calls us to Radical Love and Radical Forgiveness, the kind of Radical Love and Forgiveness that can only come when your operating from your highest best self, that part of you that comes from God.

That radical love and forgiveness that asks nothing in return, that’s when you’re working from your highest best self. I also know it has to starts with you, you must trust the system enough to know you are forgiven and loved yourself. It has to start with you, if you’re not good for yourself, you can’t be good for anyone else, PERIOD! I also know if you can’t let go of the past, it will be very difficult to forgive yourself and others!

The past as you know it only exists that way in your mind, no one else! How you see yourself is the major factor on how you see others and how you see the world. The smallest, shallowest part of that equation is your limiting factor, you cannot be or see any larger than your smallest thought. So sometimes we just need to throw that chair out, and move on with our lives, the past can be wonderful, but it can also be the chains that keep us tied to where we are!

Peace!

Required reading for this post:

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and read them!!

My take on the “wages of sin”

So I have found that it’s much more difficult for me to post when the weather gets nice. Between yard work and baseball and wanting to spend more time outside, it’s been harder to sit down and write a post.
This week I found some inspiration, I was speaking to a friend of mine and she said something like, you know back when you use to sin! I just started grinning, laughing on the inside, when I use to sin, hell I sin every day! It’s that on good days the sins are different than you might think. I have had this thought in the last few months, I have this idea of “soft sins” or the small sins we tend to over look, the big boy sins tend to take care of themselves don’t they, usually if they made the top ten list, you must deal with them, they will force you to, one way or another.
It’s those small buggers we tend to miss; they’re the ones that do the most damage?
You know the ones like being passive aggressive, or with holding love because you are pissed off, or judging yourself or others. Usually the way you treat others is how you feel about yourself on the inside.
So when I use to sin, like today, or every day. I know what my friend meant; we were talking about how I am working with my kids to make sure the first comment out our mouths is a positive one, unlike the usual negative ones we start with! The interesting part is that I now realize that they got that habit from me, I had help, but it starts right here, at the top (lol, its Fathers Day, so I will pretend i am at the top of the heap here at home).
So of course my friend thinks I am better than I really am, we are all works in progress, not works of perfection, but I do try, sometimes I don’t get very far, do I do try to make my life and those around me a better place!
To me sin is missing the mark, like an archer misses the bulls-eye, but we are still on track. God doesn’t keep score, ever! Most of the time I think the bigger problem is that we keep score for ourselves and for others! It’s not your job EVER!
So free yourself, and others, sin is missing the mark- when we choose to move out of God’s grace, God never moves away from us, EVER!
God is always there broadcasting the same message to the world- Grace-Peace-Love- Forgiveness-Joy.
If that’s not what you see at least some of the time, you need to get the corrosion knocked off your receptors. Remember in the beginning, this Jesus movement was called the good news, if it doesn’t feel that way to you; you need to do some internal cleaning!
Peace, love, joy to you.
I have a game of backyard football to get to!

Audio from 6-21-15

My “False Self”

I am taking a online course with the Center for Action and Contemplation, based on the book “Immortal Diamond” by Richard Rohr. I highly recommend anything by Richard Rohr, his body of work is fantastic! Below are 2 questions the course asked us to ask ourselves, and my answers. I thought you might enjoy. Get the book!

The false self is the part of you that’s fully in this world, you need it to develop, but if life works right you move into more of your true self. The die before you die is about learning to let “this world” and its cares go so you can experience a “truer” life while your here in the dimension!

What have I learned from my false self?

I learned I built a damn good container for my second half of life. I learned that sometimes, or most times, its tougher to have “tasted” a small piece of my true self, but not be able to stay in that place….

It can be a terrible longing to get back there, but I know its a process, God comes at us disguised as our lives, but its easy to lose sight of that in the day to day life we live. I learned I don’t want a FALSE SELF any more, I want to live in a “world” that doesn’t exist.  I want to snap my fingers and create “heaven”, the problem is I know I can, I struggle when I “fail” to get back there. I am learning to deal with that too.

How have I died before I died? Apparently not well!

I catch glimpses, when my kids say your nicer now, or when I can lose myself in someone else. Or the times I can only see the joy and beauty in the world, or in others. When I can be on my “A” game more, and see less “them’s” and more “us’s.” This too is fleeting, like a mist that disappears with the morning sun.

I struggle on knowing that its on “me” to get back there, God is just an outpouring of love, the rest is on me, how do I stay in the “zone” longer? How can I continue to see others, all others, as loved children of God? Their problems -more a reflection of me, than of them… My lessons to learn, to grow through, to help others with on our journey. I am working on the “soft sin” of perfection, in myself, or more importantly projecting it to others!

So I try to die a little more every day, look for the beauty and wonder in everything, know its a dream- and a joy to be here, experiencing the wonder of it all.

My online response to why Christianity is loosing ground in the US.

Here my response to a article on-line to why American’s are leaving Christianity:

Most people get just enough religion to make them miserable, but not enough to show them a way to God.
I read many of the posts here, most of them might be true as to why many have left the “church.” We lost the mystery and awe that God can show us, we have everything, including God in a box.

S\he is energy(spirit) s\he can’t be contained in box.
Modern man, and I use the term loosely, have to make things fit, that’s what we are taught in school, we have scientific minds now. We have to be right because someone else has to be wrong…
God is more nuanced that that, there is beauty all around us if you can learn to see it.

Many\most people read the Bible as a literal book, but its much more than that, its not a history book either, but some how it describes the human condition very well, even 2100 years later. Literalism is not wrong, its just the lowest form of understanding. Literalist get caught up with the law, they quote a verse out of context and usually use it to hurt someone else or make themselves look good. Jesus saw a different God, not a law God, but a God of love.

The problem is Jesus was not a law guy at all, he was a love guy. Tough to build a religion on that, and the Catholic’s did what people do, they humanized it, and drug it to our human level. They have had a lot of help over the last several hundred years from a lot of different religions.

Why so many Christian religions now?

Our thought process has changed drastically over the last several hundred years to a scientific mind, we have to prove things , explain things, we have to “right” all the time. Where people of centuries past would be ok “not having to understand” everything, and I mean everything, in our modern minds we have to “prove” everything “all” the time. Somebody, thing or idea has to be “right” and by our definition – then somebody, thing or idea has to be “wrong.” If your not in exact agreement with them over a few ideas, “they” must be wrong, start a new Christian Religion.

God doesn’t work like that.
Seems to me science points to the unknown(God), more and more every day. Read about quantum physics or string theory. They find we know less and less all the time.
Isn’t  it wonderful.

We need to learn to sit with the unknown, revel in the mystery of it all, learn to see with new eyes. Know that we don’t know everything, and probably aren’t meant to, ever.
If you can dig a little deeper, sit with the unknowable, see with new eyes, its a marvelous adventure.

Peace

Jesus as wall paper?

We just had a beautiful Easter Service last week with “the real” pastor, and my 3 son’s had their first communion, what a beautiful Easter Service at our little Church.

I was struck by a few things, the sermon was based on the idea that we keep Jesus as wall paper, kind of hanging around, but not front and center in our lives. The pastor did a great job, the C and E days are tough, there are always a lot of people who only come twice a year, which is fine, but the audience is different. He pointed out how we were all speaking about the Easter Dresses, the food at breakfast, and did the Easter Bunny come to visit?

But no Big Guy?

At the time in the pew, I was thinking how he was right; most of us don’t work Jesus into our lives. I seem to have a way to get talking about him, but that’s because I think of him as a friend, somebody in my life. Like all my friends how I feel about him changes based on my mood, but he is always there for me.

When I got home I was thinking about the sermon, and came up with the idea, we don’t talk about Jesus much because organized religion made him a God. Dare I say many of us fear him, because he holds the “keys” to heaven or hell!  On top of that how do you work a God into an every day conversation? On top of that we are not suppose to talk about such things with “normal” folk- no politics- no religion. Interesting to me we lump those 2 subject together?

Something to worship, not a “buddy”, to talk to like you talk to a friend, or somebody to run your ideas by, or engage with about the little things in life. We don’t think of Jesus as a close friend, how close can you be with a God! That creates a level of separation that’s hard to cross. Interesting use of the word “cross.” On “that” cross he showed us how to be Divine, but how to be fully Human as well!

Jesus was enlightened, Jesus got it, and Jesus got God. Jesus never said worship me, he said follow me. That’s a radically different thing!

Come follow me, let me show you this new way of seeing. It’s beautiful. LOOK what right here in front of our noses! This new way of seeing God.

Organized religion has not done a very good job of showing us the Mystical Jesus! Constantine in his conversion to Christianity got the ball rolling in “main streaming” Christianity, but we lost a lot of the best “Fringe” thinking. The subsequent centuries have not been good for seeing the “real Jesus” either. We did what humans do best, we made a system around Jesus, with a different type of hierarchy, depending on what religion you were raised in. Could that be why most religions in the developed world are losing people by droves, or why we see the rampant fundamentalism in all major religions today. We lost the best part of the message its all a radical love story!

If we want to get Jesus off the “wall paper,” then we need to change the way most of us think about him, we need to find a way to bring him into our lives every day. Maybe start by reflecting on how you see Jesus. Know that we can have our own resurrections, everyday, we get to start over every minute if need be, God does not hold grudges.

Jesus showed us a new way to see God, most of us got lost in the shuffle of first half of life thinking. We need to see Jesus with those “new eyes” that they talk about in scripture. If not I am afraid he will stay on the “wall paper” at best, at worst religion will continue to fuel the rampant separation we see in the world today by religious fundamentalists of all stripes ( this doesn’t come from Jesus, rather from our myopic way of looking at his radical message). We need to realize that there are no them’s, just a world full of different looking “us’s”. We are all one with God.

Palms in the wind.

Featured image

So I was coming out of the post office Friday and I saw this palm frond blowing down the street, it’s not much of a stretch in NE Ohio to think it was a loss from one of our church’s Palm Sunday services last week. As you can see it pretty beat up and has seen better days!

That got me thinking…somehow it’s a metaphor of our lives, especially our lives following Christ! A little beat-up some of the times, windblown, not sure where we are going to end up!

That’s ok too, just like me finding the palm branch, at the end of our “travels” we can be sure that we will always be “found” by God. More to the point, we just find our way back to her. God is always present in our lives, sometimes the wind (our thoughts) seem to takes us away from Her radiant presence, but that’s a choice that comes from our end. She is just waiting for us to return to the fold, always waiting for us, with no judgments.

I was speaking to a friend this week and he is going through a lot in his life right now – problems with kids and grandkids, and health issues to boot! I could hear the pain through the phone as we were talking. I want to help, I really and truly do, but I know that’s not my cross to bear. I know we have to work through these trials, what lessons we don’t learn, we are doomed to repeat until we “get it.” So, I offer what comfort I can to try to ease the burden, but I know these are lessons we must learn for ourselves. I also know that we are given the chance to learn them over and over and over until we “get them” or not, and “not” getting it, that’s what we call pain and the Bible would call Hell. Another way to think of Hell is when we choose to move out of God’s Grace! When I was on the phone with my friend, he complimented me on my sermon from last week. He said he was envisioning the pain Jesus went through, for us, on the cross. The interesting thing is, I never said that – at all. In fact, I started out by saying it was not going to be that “normal” Palm Sunday sermon, that’s not what I see any more.

We find what we go looking for, all the time. I use to know THAT God and, by extension, that Jesus! I use to see the pain, because that’s where I was at in “my life.” Remember the Thomas Merton idea “the God we find says more about us than it does about God.” That’s where my friend is in his life right now.

See, we need to learn to trust that the wind will blow us back to God’s grace, it always does. Or, we can let it blow us to some very nasty places. I have been to a few nasty places, I created them, and they are called Hell. I think Jesus is telling us about the Hells we create here on Earth, I don’t believe it has much if anything to do with the afterlife. I know we need to travel through those Hells, to get perspective, to feel, to learn. There’s the rub, some of us, dare I say most of us, never make the return trip back to “Heaven.” That’s what we are offered through Jesus; his gift to us is that we have the choice to make our lives Heaven or Hell, right here…right now. Jesus is trying to show us the way to the “awareness” to live Heaven here on earth. That’s the gift I want in my Easter basket this Easter.

Peace.

I hope and pray the “wind” keeps you near God this Easter Season!

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