Category "Knowing God"

November 27, 2006

Spiritual Truth

What is truth anyway? Haha, everything is relative it seems! Truth to some people is a lie to others, depending on how we each view things. So what makes a good spiritual truth. I started compiling a list today:
1. Transcends time and space - applies equally to us now as it did centuries ago. The beatitudes are a good example: 'love your neighbor as yourself..' 'do to others as you'd like done to you'
2. Works even when under pressure. Maybe that's when they work the best? I don't know, if a person is transformed inside, they don't go around hatin' and beatin' on gay people or their wives, and road rage would not exist.
3. Applies to all people - All people can apply the truth. Even a developmentally delayed person. ie. Love your neighbor as yourself. Be nice to other people. Be nice to animals. Don't be greedy or selfish. Try your best.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:09 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

November 17, 2006

Who does God belong to?

If people really knew God, they would not have to think about this, let alone argue about it. To make a point I'm going to quote a quote out of a recent news article, so don't quote me on this...
"Such reactions don't surprise Israeli Historian Gershom Gorenberg, whose book "The End of Days" documents the fight over the holy site.
"Dig a centimeter beneath the debate over antiquities," he said, "and you hit the debate over whom the Mount belongs to, and a centimeter beneath that is the war over whom the entire country belongs to.""
Their argument is too old and to heated to resolve by me, but this quote kind of reminded me of something...People don't and never will 'own' God. But they sure love to try. Everyone loves to claim they 'have' the one and only God, or at least have the inside track or path to GOD. But eventually we all realize that we can never posess God. I mean that God is not an object to own, sell or barter with. God is not a weapon or a tool to convert or subvert others to fulfill our needs or desires. Like our driving need for POWER and CONTROL over others.
Dig a centimeter beneath the debate over the real God and you hit the debate over who God belongs to. And a centimeter beneath that is the war over who life belongs to.


Posted by carl1236 at 10:52 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

October 14, 2006

Talking to God

While messing around with the new comment catcher I discovered an old comment that somehow got filtered into the junk folder. I already have a link to Gen's site, but here is the link to the comment she left a LONG time ago that never got posted...

Posted by carl1236 at 8:00 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 30, 2006

Blessed are the peacemakers

God is Love. Sometimes I wonder at how easy it is to get so far away from God, and how quickly it happens. So far away from Loving other human beings. Many of our modern ideas about peacemaking don't get at the root of the problem. The root of the problem is a lack of love for each other. Which means a lack of God. We need the application of God. Blessed are the real peacemakers. The one's who love in the face of modern ideas that look more like hate than love. Maybe not so modern, but re-hashed, over and over the centuries. Ideas that look more like a lack of love than love. The bible says, "Blessed are the peacemakers..." because it's a good thing. It's how we love each other. That's God.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:26 PM | Knowing God | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Knowing God"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

January 10, 2006

The sudden urge

Tonight at about 7pm or so, I was riding my bike through downtown St. Paul on my way home. I was just passing by an intersection and the Aroma's Cafe sign caught my eye. I've seen it before, but never had the need to stop in. Tonight however I had this sudden and urgent urge to take a detour and stop in for a treat. This coffee shop is not right on the corner and I couldn't see in from where I pulled up to the stop sign, so I didn't know why I was being 'pulled' in that direction. I parked my bike and looked in the window and to my wonder and surprise I saw my friend Kurt! I haven't seen him since November I think. So I parked my bike and went in and said hi. I ended up staying and eating a bite and having some coffee. We really enjoyed talking and made plans to meet again next week on Tuesday in the same place to play some chess and watch some student films they'll be showing.
Then when I began my journey home again, I was feeling pretty good. I was happy. But as I was passing the street where my bus runs, I felt this huge pull to go to the main bus stop and see when my bus came. It's several blocks out of my way, so I had to make a concerted effort to go that way. I kept telling myself that it would be a pain going back up the hill from that location, but I did it anyway. There at the bus stop I saw my friend Melvin with his bike. His bike was missing a pedal but he was riding it all over like that! I told him to stop by the bikeshop for a new pedal. He was happy to see me, and I was happy to see him. I ended up riding the bus home just to keep talking with him a little longer. Melvin's a good guy. We made plans that he would come into the bike shop on Saturday for a new pedal. Both times tonight I had this sudden urge to detour out of my normal course. I listened and it was amazing. It was totally worth it! Oh the mysterious, amazing thing this life is.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude | Knowing God | Love your Neighbor

Category "Knowing God"

October 26, 2005

Talking to God

Tonight I sat there listening to someone tell me that if someone tells him that God told them to do something he runs far away from them. I didn't tell him that God told me to sit there chatting with him and another friend until 2:10am. It seemed like a good idea to listen to God when he told me to do it. Now I'm tired. But I'm glad I did. I learned a lot and got to know my friends better than I ever would have had I not stuck around. I also shared my friendship with them. It was worth it. How can we claim to know God if we can never converse with God? Can we believe that God exists without believing that God can and does talk to us?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

September 16, 2005

I am in such need of Love

I am in such need of Love
I don’t need anything else.
I don’t crave anything
like the Love that I have felt.

I am in such need of Love
Nothing else even comes close
and with each injection
I want an increased dose.

I am in such need of Love
Without it, cannot survive.
Though not always aware
I need Love to be alive.

I am in such need of Love
A Life of Love, never gone.
With every breath inhaled,
I’m wrapped in the Love of God.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:28 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

November 21, 2004

Hearing the Voice of God

Today I heard God speaking to me again. I listened intently as she spoke about relationships. It came to me that in relationships with other people, for instance in marriages, both parties have to want to be there. It happens often in marriages that one person will ask for a divorce and the other one couldn’t see it coming. Only in retrospect, after having lost someone does that person really see or take any responsibility for the decay and disintegration of the relationship. It’s happened to me before, so I totally understand this. Fortunately for me, I woke up and changed. Our relationship changed slowly for the better. But it’s never clear-cut and often things get better and then worse, then better again. Relationships can and do go in and out of sync. People can fall in and out of love also. Relationships can be repaired. But both people really have to want to be there. And it’s an ongoing thing.
Sometimes one person wants to be there in name, but is miles away in spirit. Jackson Browne sang a song about this,
“I got my head down between my knees
I got my back against this bedroom wall
I hear my voice saying baby please
But I know that you don’t hear me call

You’re staring at that far horizon
I don’t even know why you stay
It’s like you’re already miles and miles away.

We got this life so far turned around
We only talk about what happened last
We try to move ahead but we’re losing ground
To the heartache and the pain of the past

Staring at that far horizon
I don’t even know why I stay
You’re already miles and miles away...”

As I sat there listening to God she reminded me to think about my relationships and how I interact with those I love. She asked me a tough question, “What ever happened to ‘and the two shall become one?’” When I think about my relationship with my wife, I can’t say that I have always been ‘one’ with her. At times yes, but at other times I’ve been staring at that far horizon, already miles and miles away. That’s not being ‘one’ with my wife; it’s like not really being there.
In every relationship it takes two people to have that relationship. When it’s not working for one of them it’s not working the way it was intended. So even now after 20+ years of marriage I still have to work on our relationship. I still have to be present and be ‘one’ with my wife. I love her and I’m thankful to God for this reminder. Tonight after work I spent some time talking with my wife and listening to her. I took away some of her chores and did them myself so she didn’t have to. It came at a good time, because she’s really stressed out about a meeting she has with a client tomorrow and she appreciated having someone to listen to her.
God spoke clearly to me today through my coworker who is going through a separation and divorce. She was explaining to me the problems she was having and the fears she has about how her children are handling this. She talked about her husband and how it was like he was there, but not really with her. She talked about a lot of things that I’ve experienced and can relate to. She didn’t ask for any advice and I didn’t give her any, but I did listen to her. I told her some of my experiences in the past with my marriage and relationships. I think she was thankful just to be able to get some of what was bottled up inside her out in the open. It’s difficult to go through life alone. It’s funny how we can be surrounded by people and still feel alone.
I’ve asked before, “How does God talk to us?” And the answer was, “Using any means possible for God.” Which is really through anything or anyone. Some people hear the voice of God through religious texts, some through books, music, or nature. God is always talking to us, but the real question is “Do we hear God?” And then if we hear God, do we act on what we hear? To me there was an awareness that came over me as I was listening to my co-worker of specific examples in my life that were not working. This is a kind of ‘knowing’ that’s hard to explain. It wasn’t one specific thing that my coworker said in a deep voice or anything like in the exorcist movie, but in my awareness it was the voice of God touching my heart, revealing something I needed help with, and prompting me into action. I know that with every relationship, we have to want to be there. And we have to want to listen; that's part of being there.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:14 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

November 20, 2004

Where is God?

I was talking with some friends yesterday about exercise and being healthy, aging and changing lifestyles. As we were talking, one of them brought up the subject of being religious. That’s one of those words that kind of has a negative connotation now days. It seems restrictive and controlling. In many cases people who attend church or go to their temple or meditate are labeled as religious. I guess following a specific religion makes a person religious.
But people are being much more than religious when they are practicing their religion. They are attempting to touch their souls. They are attempting to realize their connection with the source of life. Sometimes it’s easy to forget why we are here and get wrapped up in our own little worlds, but overall I believe that people know intuitively that there is much more to life than our physical existence.
No matter what religion we are, or if we prefer not to be labeled as religious, underlying our practice and belief system is a desire to be happy and a desire to know and express our purpose for being. Our labels are actually inadequate to describe our relationship to the divine. Our existence cannot be separated from it. We don’t really know how to put into words something like life. Where do we begin? We can easily define who we are by labeling ourselves as Architects or Doctors or Lawyers, or Christians or Buddhists, or Muslims, but these words are also inadequate, because we are much more than that. We are alive. We are sustained by the universe around us. We belong to it; we are it.
Throughout the centuries human beings have been trying to understand our connection to everything around us, and deeply desiring there be a connection. Native Americans know that everything is alive with spirit so everything is connected and sacred. Therefore, our walk on earth is a sacred spiritual journey. But often in our limited sight we see God as existing outside of her creation. Yet in our universe all of creation is an expression of God. We can see and know God by looking at life around us and in us. We are part of the whole. We fit and belong to it. Our physical and spiritual worlds are not separate.
It has been said that God lives at the center of the universe and the center of the universe is everywhere, it is inside of each of us. God has told us that he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, all that was, that is and that will be.
Now we know where God is. Everywhere we look we see God’s face. Where does God live? God lives in all of creation. God is the spirit in everything. God is the one energy that all energy comes from. Without God we would not exist. God is closer to us than our own breath. This is why Jesus said to us, “When I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me something to drink, when I was a stranger you made me your friend and took me in, when I was naked you clothed me, when I was sick or in prison you came to me. Whatever you have done to the least of your brothers or sisters, you have done to me.”
Our connection with God is much closer than we often make it. We don’t have to look very far; we just have to be able to see God where we look. If we see God, we know how to love God with all our hearts and we know how to love others as our self. We intuitively know how to live our lives. One could say this is being religious, but it’s really much more than that, it’s being alive and being aware. And it’s not something to be ashamed of or afraid of, because we cannot separate life from God. It’s just the way it is.
Does knowing this effect the way I live my life? Yes, because now I’m going to work at the group home to take care of God. I’m helping God correct her paper for a presentation at an upcoming conference. I’m tutoring God in English to help him survive in America, I’m teaching God how to drive, I’m planting God for a better environment, I’m reducing the toxins in the air and water that God is breathing and drinking. I am thanking God for helping me and giving me life. I am not stealing from God or Cheating God out of something. I am not harming God for my own gain, pleasure or greed. At least I am trying my best to treat life as respectfully as I am able to. I am learning and changing because before I was blind and could not see God. The more I become aware of God the more I am thankful I am alive. Whatever I am doing, I am doing to God.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:33 AM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

October 15, 2004

A thousand points of light

Tonight driving home it was lightly raining. At one point I was driving toward a bright light and the drops of rain on my windshield all lit up. It was a really beautiful thing. But I quickly realized I couldn’t see the road and I had to wipe it away. The rest of the drive home was uneventful and the conditions were never quite the same to reproduce the momentary brilliance of a thousand points of light. But the beauty of it is still stuck in my mind.
It was a great day for me. I saw my son briefly, who was home for a day from college. I went out to dinner with my Korean language partner. That was awesome. I love Kimchi. I can’t explain it, but I do. Of course I really enjoy and appreciate almost any kind of food. After dinner we went to a coffee shop and listened to a Jazz group play. That was good too.
The coffee shop was packed, probably because the Jazz group was pretty good. I’m sure they brought some of their fans with them. We sat down at a table where a woman was studying something that looked like a textbook. We struck up a conversation because my Korean language partner was curious what she was studying.
She was preparing herself to talk to people about God. She was studying a guidebook on the key points of Christianity. It was interesting that one of her favorite hobbies was to give bibles to people. She was talking about the bible and what it meant for her to study it. She said, “the bible is the inspired word of God, and I know that when I have difficult times I can always find something in there to help me.” She also talked about the power of God’s word in people’s lives.
By the time we finished talking, she had my friend’s address and was planning on dropping off a bible at his apartment tomorrow. She was thrilled to be able to do it. Then she looked at her watch and decided it was time she left. And it was getting late so we also decided to leave. I drove him home and dropped him off in front of his apartment building. It was really a great evening, and then I was on my way home. That’s when I had the experience of witnessing the dazzling light show on my windshield. The thousand points of light was an inspiration and revelation to me.
As we were driving I was thinking about the night and how that woman enthusiastically talked about the bible. I reflected on what the bible (and other holy texts) have meant to me throughout my life. The bible has also been called the living word. When I was younger I could never figure out how a book or words could be alive. Or how a book written by so many different people could be considered the words of God. And these words of God kind of tell a story from the beginning to the end, but I would not call it a smoothly written novel. It’s more like a thousand little topics loosely organized into chapters and verses that we can peruse and study in any order. There is an overall story, but this is really a collection of works that were done at different times and in different places and organized by someone to form the bible we have now. Like a thousand points of light, it’s brilliant. The words of God come through the text and shine light on our hearts. The reason all of our spiritual texts, holy words are so special is because the words talk about ways to transform ourselves. We are moved and inspired by the revelations we have about the way things really are, and it has a deep impact on us. We are changed by it.
Throughout my entire life I have been touched and changed by the word of God. But I am not just talking about a book with words in it. I am talking about the thousand points of light. The insight and spirit behind the words. The heart of God can come to us in many forms. God can speak to us and change us using any means available to God. As long as human beings have existed, God has been talking to us. Long before the written word, God has been talking to us. A good question is do we listen? Does it change our hearts?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:30 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

October 9, 2004

The Transfer of Knowledge

In a book I’m reading, The organization of information, the Author distinguishes between information and knowledge. I found this explanation very interesting. She said something like knowledge is the internalization or actualization of information. Information is a static item that can be used to arrive at knowledge. However information is not knowledge. Someone’s knowledge can be recorded, but this becomes information and does not represent that person’s entire knowledge.
Thich Nhat Hanh said that if you know what a lemon tastes like and you want to share that with someone who doesn’t know, it is very difficult for you to transfer your knowledge to the other person. You can explain what a lemon tastes like, you can describe the texture, the feel, the taste in whatever words you can find that are appropriate to your experience. But, what you really want to share is not the description of it, but the actual experience. It would be much better to just give the other person the lemon and let them bite into it. Then they would have knowledge of the lemon.
Many people know and experience the love of God, yet do not know how to transfer their knowledge to others. They can tell us that God is love, that God always answers our prayers, or that God is the Universe and the very breath we breathe and without God we could not be alive or exist. Yet what they really want to tell us is not the description of who God is or what God does, but the experience of God.
Because of this difficulty in sharing our experience, or knowledge of God, we are left with information about God that is not knowledge unless it is internalized or actualized. In this life we are given the opportunities to experience God. We can hear about God all we want and we can form our opinions about God, yet we still would not have knowledge of God. We would have information about God. But when we experience God, then we know. When we know God we know that God truly is love and all of the miracles that have ever been done on this earth were done through Love. When we pray for God to help us in this world, God hears us. God does something. God answers us, but to know this, we have to experience it. I see God working in this world and changing people’s hearts all the time. God is closer to us than our own jugular vein. God knows the number of hairs on our head and he knows our hearts. God is so close that we cannot be separate from God and still live.
Since we know that all of that information is not true knowledge, we can seek out opportunities to experience God so we do know. Since God is Love, that is a good place to start. Love others as we love ourselves. When we truly do this, then we know and experience God.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:41 PM | Knowing God

Category "Attitude"

Category "Knowing God"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 7, 2004

A sign of the times

Usually on the news we hear all of the bad things. Mostly because sensational things are newsworthy. It drives ratings. And I think everyday good things are harder to present in the news. We also hear from one side, that these are the end times, that life is just going to get worse before it gets better. So it’s easy to begin to think the world is going to ‘Hell in a hand basket’ quickly. It can be a troubling idea as we look around and see all of the fighting, terrorism, crime, prejudice and lust. That’s what we hear about.
But, I’m going to paint a different picture. One of hope right now. If we think about it, for most of us life is not like we see on the news. We have families, we have jobs, we love our children, grandchildren, parents, wives, husbands, we have dreams, we have faith and we go through life just like everyone else. So our view on life just doesn’t coincide with the view that the world is getting worse. I think there have been much worse times to live through. Can you imagine what it was like to go through World War Two? Or in some cases, like just 20 some years ago. Recently there has been a lot of news coverage of sexual charges against priests who abused young boys. But when we read the fine print, we see these young boys are now grown up and are just coming out with what happened. But did we feel safer 20 years ago? Horrible things still went on in those times. Much of it was just hidden or swept under the rug.
There has also been an incredible amount of good to go along with the bad though. We just don’t hear about it. Like the people who stopped to help me with my bike, or when I was injured. Like the man and his wife who took us in one night when my wife and I were traveling home for Christmas 15 years ago and got stuck in a blizzard. Tonight on the bus I witnessed two great acts of kindness on the bus riding home from the University; a young woman quietly asked a drunk man who had just boarded the bus if he needed money for the bus fare. After he said no, he dug around in his wallet but couldn’t find anything. She offered again, and then she just leaned over the isle and put it in his hand. The drunk man paid his fare and then turned to her and asked, “why did you do that? thank you.” Then a few stops later an old woman got on the bus and the lady next to me jumped up, stood in the isle and offered her seat to the old woman.
Sure there are problems in our society, but isn’t it each of our responsibilities to make our worlds a little better, all around us? These kinds of acts of kindness I see all the time. We can see them if we are looking. Also if we feel the same way, we start to notice others who are practicing what we also believe in. It’s like buying a car. Before we bought the car we hardly saw any of the model we bought on the streets. But after we bought it, we could see them all over. These two kind people are heroes in our modern times, but unlike anyone famous, their greatness may go unrecognized because we are not geared toward recognizing them.
Another sign of the times, we can always think about our world as troubled and messed up, or we can do what these kind people are doing all around us. Give to each other. This kind of thing gives me hope, and are more examples of God working on earth. Have faith and hope that when we pray, “May your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” we will see some action. Maybe the action will be the next time we see someone who is in need and feel the urge to do something about it.
Don’t live in fear of the times, live in love right now and our world will be a better place.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude | Knowing God | Love your Neighbor

Category "Knowing God"

September 15, 2004

Z693.A52 1976

Last night I found the book I was looking for. It’s now properly cataloged and located in my collection at Z693.A52 1976. I searched high and low for it. I looked through every book on my shelf, one at a time. I knew it was there, so it was a matter of actively looking for it with the intention of finding it. When I found it I was delighted. I was thrilled that I found it and that it was finally going to get put to use. Without looking, the book was lost and the opportune time to use it would have been gone. When I eventually did find it I would have missed the benefit of it during the process of cataloging my books. Even though the missing book is old and outdated, it’s very informative to me and gives me background knowledge on libraries and cataloging that I wouldn’t have had.
Looking for my book is like what God wants us to do. Look for our answers like we know they are there and don’t dismiss it until we find it. God always answers us.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you: for every one that asks, receives; and whoever seeks, finds; and to whoever knocks, it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
Asking, seeking and knocking are active participation. When we were children and wanted something we went to our parents and asked for it. When we lost something we searched high and low for it like it was something of great value. When we went to our friends house, we knocked on the door and expected to go in.
This is a promise that gives us peace and hope. We have to actively participate in this promise and we will be shown the way. Think about the reverse of this; if we don’t really want it, are we actively trying to get it? If I lost my book and wanted to find it, was I willing to look through every book on the shelf to find it? If we are talking about more than just physical things, what does that mean for our souls? What is it we really want in life? Love? Peace? Happiness? Ask like a child asks a parent, seek like it’s something valuable we have lost, and knock like we expect to go in.

Bonus question for you library savvy people: What book did I find buried in my shelves of unorganized books? You’ll be happy to know It is no longer lost between the shelves and resides in a place I can easily retrieve it: Z693.A52 1976 ;-) See my September 9th blog entry LIBRARY CATALOGING FOR DUMMIES. http://blog.lib.umn.edu/carl1236/dailyspirit/2004_09.html#005145

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

September 3, 2004

God is always available to us

Friday, September 3, 2004 PLOG Entry Five.

Highlights of the day:

Riding all available pavement on the island. While riding I saw a Llama! I stopped to take a picture and he came over to the fence to say hello.
Doing our annual hike through the Big Bay State Park and jumping off the rocks into Lake Superior! Cooooooold! It takes my breath away.
Cheese and bread for lunch in the sun on the rocks by Lake Superior.
Taking an afternoon nap in the shade outside on the lawn.
Reading outside on the grass.

God is always available to us

I was reading a book called Going Home, by Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s inspiring in several ways. For one, the wisdom in his writing transcends much of our current dogma used for excuses to hate each other.
One of the themes in the book is that God is always available to us. We just have to be willing to touch God, to have intention and determination to do so. God is Love, Peace, Stability and Freedom. All of that is available to us right now, 14 hours per day. (see page 38, page 8 – Andre’ Gide)
But the question is, are we always touching God, 24 hours per day? God is the base of all being. The absolute, unchanging all in all. The beginning, the end, and the eternal. We can touch God by looking deeply and touching the phenomenal world deeply. In the Creation we see the Creator who sustains and makes life possible. We see the ground of all being.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:56 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

August 16, 2004

Misplaced intentions

Many people have good intentions with false ideas. I’m talking mainly about false Ideas as to what God really wants us to do. Many people are confused about what pleases God and what doesn’t. Often it is because of teachings within their churches, synagogues or temples that are interpreted with a bias. Our biases come in many forms and are at the core of our beliefs and views about life.
In one Religious sect’s literature that I read today, there was an article titled, Beliefs and Customs that Displease God. The first sentence says, “Not all beliefs and customs are bad. But God does not approve of them if they come from false religion or are against bible teachings.” Then they quoted a bible verse Mathew 15:6 as proof that this is a true statement. However if they truly understood that whole chapter 15, they would realize that their own teachings are like those of the scribes and Pharisees who were called hypocrites by Jesus for trying to twist the meaning of their teachings to profit themselves.
To make this article more unpalatable, they proceeded to use the argument that because birthdays were only mentioned a couple of times in the bible, and were celebrated by non-Christians, that this is one practice that God is displeased with. They also said God is displeased with people celebrating Christmas, because it’s a birthday, and Easter, because it came from pagan beliefs. In this article they state, “The early Christians did not celebrate Christmas or Easter, nor do true Christians today.”
Jesus said that people like those that wrote this article were prophesied by Isaiah, saying, “These people come close to me with their talk and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain, teaching the commandments of men as my doctrine.” The same chapter that the authors of this article use to support their claims actually condemns their teachings as being misguided. Nowhere in the bible does God say he is displeased with the celebration of Christmas, Easter or birthdays. Nowhere in the bible does it say to be a true Christian, you must not celebrate these things. To end their article, they proceed to use fear to convince the reader that they will displease God if they do not change their beliefs: “It may be very hard to abandon some of these beliefs and customs. Relatives and friends may try to convince you not to change your beliefs. But pleasing God is more important than pleasing men.” They then quote Proverbs 29:25 and Matthew 10:36 and 37. to substantiate that final statement. Those verses are also misquoted to support their claim but actually condemn their own teachings. For instance in Proverbs 29:25 it says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever puts their trust in the Lord will be safe.” And Matthew 10:36 and 37 says, “And a man’s foes will be from his own household. Whoever loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: And he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” These two verses are quoted out of context of the whole chapter where Jesus is talking about misplaced fear of men and the need to Love God above all. In Mark chapter 6 there is the story about the execution of John the Baptist. King Herod was seeing his brother’s wife Herodias and John the Baptist told him it wasn’t a good thing. King Herod liked John the Baptist, thought of him as holy and wondered at the things he did and said. But later at Herod’s birthday celebration Herodias’ daughter danced for him. King Herod was pleased with her performance and offered her anything she wanted. The daughter went to Herodias to get help in deciding what to ask for. Herodias told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist. Fearing reprisal after making a promise like that to his lover’s daughter, he ordered the execution. This story is a better example of doing something to please other people regardless of what our heart says. This is putting the pleasure of other people above what is right and good. This is what Jesus meant by setting family members against family members. When our hearts are touched by the spirit of God we are no longer influenced by the fear that other people try to hold over us. We should love God, which is all that is right and good, above all else.
I did not write any of this to condemn a particular religion, but to highlight the misplaced intentions we can all get when our hearts are not soft. The second commandment, only second to ‘Love God above all else’, is to love everyone else. This is the filter we need to view other people in this world, not fear. This is also the tool to use when we view other people, not fear. This is what pleases God. Birthday, Easter and Christmas celebrations are occupations of our time, which done in the spirit of Love, giving and remembrance, cannot displease or be wrong in the sight of God. When our hearts are in the wrong place we often condemn others and use fear to justify our claims. This is a practice that displeases God. In Matthew Chapter 7 Jesus talks about Judging others. We often look at what other people are doing and get legalistic about it, but Jesus asks us why we are nit-picking over that when we should be looking at our own hardened hearts.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:56 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

August 4, 2004

The illusion of the inner circle

At the University of London, in 1944, C.S. Lewis delivered a speech titled, “Beware the desire to become part of the ‘Inner Ring’. The 'Inner Ring” refers to our basic desire to be accepted; to be ‘inside’ instead of ‘outside’ of a particular group, whatever that group may be. For instance a group of distinguished professors, or one of the top 10 Entrepreneurs in the City, or part of the Urban League, or a member of the Choir, or a Deacon of the church, or even just an “IN” group of friends. C.S. Lewis states that there are even Rings inside of Rings. Humorously, he says that sometimes we know when we are Inside of the ‘Inner Ring’ and sometimes we think we are but are not, and sometimes ARE but don’t’ think we are.
St. Augustine, in about the year 400, in his books, “Confessions,” talks about another kind of ‘Inner Ring’ or his belonging in and conversion to the ‘Christian Life.’ He prays to God to be part of the ‘Inner Ring’, but is afraid of giving up his Worldly ring , to ‘satisfy’ his lust, rather than ‘have it extinguished’. His desire was to be accepted by God, and yet be part of another ring, satisfying his worldly pleasures.
And at the end of a 12 year search, St. Augustine cries out in anguish to God to deliver him from his worldly lusts, and make him part of the ‘Inner Ring’ and God reveals that he has been In the ring all along and God answered his prayers, and his mothers’ prayers and his friends’ prayers. All St. Augustine had to do was stop allowing the flesh to be part of the Inner Ring. When He begged to be part of the inner ring, the answer he received from God was this:
Romans 13
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
But even perceiving the need to “get into Gods inner circle, Saint Augustine tried to cling to his own circle, confessing to God that he wanted to get in, and he wanted God to answer his prayers, “but not yet” The illusion of the “Inner Ring’ is really the illusion of our own ‘insiders circles’ that we create for ourselves. We make them up, we try to get into them, we claim they ‘ARE’ the ring to be in. And we can spend our entire lives searching for THE ‘Inner Ring’ to be in, but God says, “You ARE in, now Realize it. God says everything is United in God and the Kingdom of God is here: Luke 17:21, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
And (Qur'an 50:16) "We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.” (Qur'an 2:115) “To God belongs the East and the West: wherever you turn, there is the Face of Allah; Allah is All -Embracing, All-Knowing."

C.S. Lewis wasn’t wrong that many ‘Inner Rings’ exist, and we all crave to be in them, but we create these ‘Inner Rings’ because we don’t know who we are. The illusion is that the ‘Eternal or Spiritual Ring’ is a secret society, or specific sect of a specific religion, or that you need special wisdom, or have a Scholar’s education, or a special initiation to be part of the ‘Inner Ring’ of God. The illusion is that we are not already Inside of the circle. The illusion is that we have to search for the key to unlock the door to the ‘Inner Ring’. The illusion is that we are separate from that which we are; to be totally accepted, loved, whole, happy. So the idea of an ‘Inner Ring’ is an illusion. When we look at life in it’s entirety, and the true nature of existence, we see that we are already in it and there is no ‘Inner Ring’ we need to belong to, because we are and do.

The ‘Inner ring’ was created for us, and Is us in Unity with God. We already know this. We already have the key, which is Gods holy name. One Ring, everything from the East to the West, God IS the “Inner Ring’ and we are already in it. Sometimes we know we are in it, or sometimes we think we are but are trying to run from it at the same time, But always, we ARE the Inner Ring, and God never stops talking to us, and God is NEVER separate from us.
A plant in the garden, grows up among the other plants. And slowly becomes aware of itself. Looking around, it thinks, “Is this all I am?” Is there more? Oh, look, over there, flowers. They are So blessed. Oh, and look at those majestic Trees! They reach the sun, they must know the answer.” So the plant proceeds, however miraculously, to uproot itself, in search of truth. The plant, however, failed to see the true nature of the unity of itself with the earth. And lying there on the ground looking up at the sun, realizes, “I was bound to life itself I see, and now I wither and die.”
A fish jumps out of the water and gasps for air, ”before, I was bound to life itself I see, and now I cannot breathe.”

The ‘Inner Ring’ we seek to enter is already sustaining us, is life itself, is God, is you, and I, and God as one. So the concept of an ‘Inner Ring’ that we have to find or join, is an illusion, when we become aware of our true natures. We don’t have to join it, we have to stop trying to get out.

If there is one burning message that God would like every human being to know, it is this, both simply and profoundly, God says, “I love you.”

Posted by carl1236 at 8:38 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

June 14, 2004

How do we know God?

It seems most of us seek a lifetime for something that is illusive: Happiness. If we cannot even find happiness, how can we find God? Maybe if we find God we will know happiness. But where do we look for God? The Christian and Jewish Scriptures list God’s names in various forms over 9500 times. We also hear about God from other Religions and traditions. Native Americans believe God is in and through everything so everything is sacred. Here are some descriptions of God that people have heard, but find difficult to know and experience:
The Creator.
God is everywhere.
We are all part of God.
God is in all of us.
God is in Everything.
Our existence depends on God.
God is Existence.
The great I AM.
God is the Universe.
God is the Tao.
God is the way.
God is truth
God is Life.
God is Love.
God is all knowing and all seeing.
God is good.
The First
The Last
Strength
Existence
God is our Friend
God is Faithful
God is Wisdom
God is…
There are literally thousands of descriptions of God. Ask anyone who they think God is, and you will probably get a description of God, or some of his/her attributes. It’s often difficult for us to put God into words, and we can’t just take one of the descriptions of God and forget about the rest. We have to take them all as a whole, because God is all of them.
In Islam there is a list of the 100 most beautiful names of God. Here are a few:
The Bringer of Life
The One and Only
The Last
The Fulfiller
The Restorer
The Eternal
The sufficer
God

These are attributes of God. One way to get to know God is to get to know the Attributes of God. If God is Love, then we can give and receive true Love as God gives it. If God is forgiveness, then we can give and receive forgiveness. If God is the Sufficer, then God is enough for us. We can drop our neediness, lust and greed. If God is our friend then we can be a friend to others. If God is in other people and all of creation, then we can learn to see God there, through the barriers we put up. God is not revealed in all of the holy scriptures and ancient writings to remain hidden from us.
Another way to Get to know God is to talk to God. Often we only do that when we are in deep trouble. We say, “God, please get me out of this. I promise I will never do this again.” Then as the trouble clears, and our minds and hearts settle down, we forget that God always hears us. God not only listens to our words but to our intentions and motives. We don’t need to get fancy and recite specific prayers, although special prayers can be good reminders of some things to talk to God about. God hears everything. And God is always talking to us. Too often we don’t listen. How does God talk to us? God talks to us in any way that God is able to communicate to us. Thoughts, Images, a person talking, the radio, TV, books we read, scriptures, teachers, pastors, parents, friends…God speaks to our hearts. Learning to listen is a matter of being open and then allowing God to transform us. It’s taking it to heart. Talking to God on a regular basis is getting to know God. Can we be friends with someone if we never talk to them, listen to them and don’t try to get to know them?
Our own spirituality takes on a whole new dimension when we get to know God. Knowing and applying the attributes of God to our hearts and attitudes and talking to God regularly brings us closer to God. That’s not all there is to a relationship, but it’s a good start. Wayne Gretzky, the hockey player once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” In this case the score is true, lasting happiness.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:21 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

May 23, 2004

Meeting on the Bus

When I was riding the bus to class I met a man who was interested in Biking. Since I did not want to ride my bike that many miles in one day, I put it on the bus’ bike rack on the front of the bus before boarding. Seeing me with my bike was enough of an icebreaker for this man to talk to me about biking. It was a good conversation and he gave me a few tips and I learned a few things about bikes that I never knew. I also learned that the route I was riding had a posted speed limit, and I was violating that by riding too fast. When I think about this, it’s my willingness to be open and forthcoming that led to a good conversation and connection with another human being and I learned a valuable lesson. I had seen the 10MPH speed limit posted on the bike trail before. My reason for riding on the trail instead of the street was based on a faulty view. I thought it was safer there riding in the dark than on the streets with the cars. It was a dedicated trail for bikes and pedestrians. However I was violating the speed limit by riding over 10MPH on the trail, which is not hard to do on a bike. My friend Dan told me he runs on that trail over 10MPH. Also I realized that a lot of pedestrians use that trail at night and it was difficult for me to see them. But the conversation on the bus made me more aware of what I was doing. Because of this, when I rode my bike along that route after class, I paid closer attention to my surroundings and noticed that there was a marked bike lane on the shoulder of the road. I had not seen the “bike only” markings on the street before. Now I can ride that route as fast as I want with a clear conscience and within the law. That fits more with who I am and feels better.
What I have learned about God, is that God is always talking to us and that God speaks to our hearts. This meeting on the bus touched my heart and made me change what I was doing. We have to be willing to listen to the Spirit of God talking to us in many forms. Even through a meeting of a complete stranger on the bus.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:34 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

May 21, 2004

Blown Off Course!

When I was preparing my mind today for the course I would be riding my bike, I did not realize that it was an eventful choice. I was indecisive about it right up until I got on my bike and started riding. I decided to take a longer route that would give me a little more exercise and vary my routine.
The route took me South for about a mile then turned West. As I rounded the corner I was met with a very powerful head-on wind. By the time I traveled another quarter mile the wind was stronger and I was tired already. This part of the route was familiar to me and I knew a shortcut home so I decided to cut the ride short. There would be other days for long rides I rationalized. I really didn’t feel like riding today but I knew that I would have enjoyed the ride once I was out there and committed to it. I ended up cutting my route down to about a third of what I had chosen to ride initially.
When I was only about a block from my house, I noticed an old friend I had not seen in a very long time out in her yard pulling weeds. Still gasping for breath, I pulled up and called to her.
We talked for about 20 minutes and I felt like it was a liberating experience for both of us. She needed to get a few things out of herself and felt alone in some of the struggles she was having. After I returned home, I reflected on what had happened. That’s when I realized that I had not been blown off course at all! I was blown ‘on’ course. I thought, “God works in mysterious ways.” It was still up to me to be observant and see my friend in her yard and choose to stop. But I also laughed and thought that if didn’t stop I probably would have had a flat tire right there!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:51 PM | Knowing God

Category "Knowing God"

May 1, 2004

Familiar Faces

Today I went to a computer software seminar. I went early because I wasn’t sure how heavy traffic would be going into downtown. There were only a few people mingling around when I arrived and the sign-in table was not set up yet. So, I helped myself to some juice and a roll they had set up. I observed that in strange situations, people tend to clump together with the people they came with or stand by themselves.
I observed myself doing it also. Gradually people started coming in, and I recognized some old friends and colleagues. They either came over to me or I migrated toward where they were standing, and broke in when it was convenient. It was nice to see them. Another man came in, who recognized me first, and came right over, and said, “John! How are you!” and with a big grin, shook my hand. It was nice to see him too after about five years. We talked about what he was doing and who he was working for and exchanged email addresses.
Another man I know a little better and talk to a little more frequently was also there. We also talked about some other things, besides work and software. That was even better. A little more personal.
As we were talking a thought came to me. When we are faced with unfamiliar situations we feel a lot better when we see some familiar faces.
To many of us, the afterlife is a great mystery. It scares us. And we hope the stories we’ve heard are true, that someone we know will come and greet us and guide us to our green pastures. Many of us have heard jokes about people going to heaven, standing around the pearly gates, waiting to be checked-in. St. Peter is there greeting people and either letting them in, or not. Checking to see if you are on the guest list or if you’ve been good enough to get in. We had to pre-register for the software seminar, and they were expecting us. Our name was on the list. With heaven we are not always so sure. But talking to God ahead of time helps. Knowing God before we even cross over to the other side, gives us an immediate benefit. Being on more friendly, familiar terms with God, is like having a familiar face there waiting for us. We are already pre-registered, God is expecting us. Sure it’s an unfamiliar situation, but we’ll feel a lot better when we see some familiar faces. In the crowds, God will find us, we will find God and we’ll smile and relax at the sight of a familiar face.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:45 AM | Knowing God