Let God back in, or turn the receptors back on!

So I was talking to guy I know through work , I really don’t know him well at all, but he is a good guy. We don’t get to talk that that often, but we had some time this week to get to know each other.

In the course of that conversation we got around to how I preach 3 Sundays a month. It always amazes me how that almost  always changes the conversation, usually for the better. I never know what I am going to get into, I guess that’s one of the joys in life, the surprise of it all.

So back to the conversation, he starts off by telling me of all the “things” he has , RV, motorcycle, boat, snow machine, etc. Also all the vacations he and his wife have been on, they have been blessed to see much of the country and the world!

I have to admit part of me was\is jealous of the life they get to live, and God Bless them they have earned it! On the other hand I was struck by emptiness of it all, I played that game for a long time myself, and truthfully I still struggle with how to be “of this world and not in it.” Sometimes I do it better than others, right now I am struggling with that part of me- quite a bit if truth be told.  That’s called Hell by the way. When you move away from God Grace, and make no mistake- we do it to ourselves.

When I preach about money, I like to quote Billy Graham “The wrong is not when men posses riches, it’s when the riches posses the men.” The riches use to ,and still try to posses me. More accurately, I allow them to posses my thoughts, again. That’s Hell , when we choose to move out of God’s Grace. That my EGO coming out again, to much of me and not enough God.

We are taught here in America, that more is always better, bigger is always better, achieving and pushing is “what” we do. If that’s  the American dream- then why are so many of us disillusioned with this “dream” and miserable? Why do so many of us end up asking ourselves, is this all there is, what am I about, what am I doing here?

So we think more of the same will “fix” that part of us that’s missing, that hole in us, but it doesn’t, we just try to get more. More of everything, more money, more toys, more neuroses, more addictions, more parties, more drinking, more travel, more house, more, more, more.

What we need is less, less of us and this world, and more of God. That hole we are trying to fill is the part in us that God should be filling in our lives. Make no mistake, God is always there, as constant out pouring of love, we just have to turn our receptors back on to receive her love.

Back to the conservation, this guy then proceeds to tell me how he is a regular at church , and where do I preach, etc . We talked a little more and he got emotional and tear’d up in his office, and told me he doesn’t think “he is good enough for God. ” That was not what I was expecting to hear from him, not in our first “real” conversation, but it was beautiful , the honesty of it, the purity of it.  I can I relate to that, that’s how I use to feel myself at times, when I had more pain and less of her Grace in my life.

I am glad he trusted me enough to open up to me!

I tried to help – “there is absolutely nothing you can do to make yourself good enough for God, nor should you try.”

It all comes from God freely

We are whole and compete with God, from the start, there is nothing you can do or say to make it otherwise, Nothing, Nada, Zilch.

To paraphrase Richard Rohr , “everything we need comes in the box from the MFG.”

William Sloan Coffin said ” we get just enough religion to make us miserable.”

Boy is that the truth for many of us! Or all of us some of the time.

The key is to know that we cannot do anything to stop God’s love “to” us, nothing, the rest of it comes from us, and  the noise we allow into our lives.

Know you are loved, you “are” love, and there is nothing you can do about it, just accept it as the free gift that it is, with nooooooo strings attached.

Fill that hole that’s missing in you, with the radical Love and Grace that passes all human understanding. Turn on you “receptors” and let God back in.

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