Posts Tagged ‘life’

What If We Lived Everyone Had A Soul

January 10, 2017

Yesterday I was a little philosophical. But not really if you digest the thought that we are all souls that have a physical body.

What if we took care of our souls like we took care of our bodies? For some of us, that’s not so good. On the other hand, checking out most of the advertisements on TV, magazines, interspersed in your social media “news” streams, and so on, you’d think that we devote hours of thinking about how to get our physical bodies beautiful.

What about our soul?

While I was meditating this morning, I was hit by this vision–what if we treated everyone we meet as a soul loved by a God who dearly wants to draw it (him/her) close?

What if a politician, instead of making an object of an opponent and says things like “it’s just politics”, actually considers that even opponents are human souls loved by God? Maybe despite differing opinions they could work together to solve problems that a government can solve.

Once again while meditating, The Autobiography of Malcolm X came to me. Have you not read that? As a Christian reading it 50 years ago, I was grieved that a black man in the 50s and 60s could not find acceptance within Christian circles but the followers of Islam welcomed him as a brother. Even when he traveled to Mecca.

What if, instead of sitting in our seats in church judging others who come into the room by their clothes or appearance or race, welcomed them as brothers and sisters. Fellow human souls loved by a God who wants to draw them close?

Would that change the way we live each day?

Certainly we must evaluate people and not be led astray by manipulators and people consumed by evil. But how many of those do you meet in a day?

Maybe today I will look at everyone I meet and think about just a little differently.

An Invitation To A Way Of Life And A Life

December 19, 2016

I thought, wow, this is one heck of a poor invitation.

At the airport last week traveling on a vacation, I spotted one of those religious pamphlets someone left behind. It said something about going to Hell.

I had been lost in thought, or maybe non-thinking, and the headline jarred me back to consciousness.

Is that any way to invite someone into a better life?

We are in Advent season–the annual time of reflection upon the miracle of Jesus. Something we think we can understand, but really we can’t.

But isn’t the coming of Jesus an invitation? An invitation into a better life now, as well as “life” in a philosophical or theological sense?

The shepherds were invited to participate in the birth story. The Magi were invited through the special star they saw, contemplated and followed.

Later we have John (the Baptizer) who invited people to turn their lives around and live spirit-filled lives.

Then we have two sides of Jesus. He was the teacher who updated Wisdom teaching to a new level. He invited people to live a new life and taught how to do it. Then came death and resurrection and the invitation to life after death.

Jesus’ invitations were not without risk and challenges. But he always invited people. Disappointed many times as people fell away or refused to accept the invitation, to be sure, but the invitation–that was always out there.

And I don’t think he left pamphlets in restrooms shouting out that we’re all going to Hell.

Advent is a time of invitation into a fuller, richer life with-God.

That Moment When We Realize God’s Gift

December 13, 2016


There is that moment of sudden realization. That “Oh Crap” moment. Or on the other hand the “Ah Ha” moment.

Those old cartoon characters–they run off a cliff. But they don’t fall. At least immediately. They fall when they realize there is no ground under their feet. They give us a look. Then, zip. The looks we get from Wile E. Coyote are priceless comedy.

Kids enter December with anticipation of gifts. OK, many adults do, too.

Paul the Apostle talks about gifts. He talked about the “free” gift of grace and eternal life that God gives.

He said that it comes because of our faith–in the resurrection.

But Jesus talked often of faith and eternal life–before the death and resurrection. The way he talked about it, he meant that eternal life started right then.

Today there are many who preach that eternal life begins when we die “and go to heaven.”

You can’t get that from reading Jesus’ words.

I think we can look at eternal life a little like Wile E. Coyote’s experience–except in reverse.

It is at that moment when we are open to God through faith and we realize we’re not falling. Or, maybe we’re falling like that old Hank Locklin country song, “Please help me I’m falling, In love with you.”

The gifts we give are in remembrance of the gifts the Magi gave to Joseph and Mary for Jesus. Or, they can be.

And maybe we get that sudden realization of the moment when we know we can live life more fully the way Jesus meant for it. Here. And Now.

Jesus Can See Us As We Really Are

December 12, 2016

So many people came to Jesus with a picture of themselves in their minds. I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man. But there were Pharisees and religious leaders who all thought of themselves as pretty great.


Some people are delusional. Some just clueless. Maybe their parents kept telling them how special they were. They never learned the other side.

Jesus would hold a mirror up to these people that showed them their reality.

On the other hand, sometimes he flipped those pictures (to hold the metaphor). There were people who came to him thinking they were like the bottom picture, and Jesus told them that actually they were better.

Think of Levi the tax collector and his friends. The father who said, “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Jesus didn’t always tear down; he also often built up.

Depends upon how they came to him.

During the energy crises of the 70s when we had oil shortages and long lines at gas stations, a speaker told a conference “the biggest energy shortage we have today is human energy.”

Rather than focus on tearing down pompous people–which our media loves to do, maybe we should be focusing on the Levis of the world. And those anguished fathers. And those adolescents who feel so insecure and worthless.

We can hold up a different picture for them. It’s a picture of possibilities. A picture of what they can do with their lives while living the with-God life. That’s what Jesus did. And we are followers, right?

It’s Not Freedom From, But Rather Freedom For

November 3, 2016

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.  Kris Kristofferson, Me and Bobby McGee

Kristofferson had just lost his girlfriend as Bobby McGee disappeared one night growing tired of their nomadic life. Now he was free. But for what?

As we were checking out what Paul was saying to the disciples in the Galatian provinces yesterday, we found that Paul said we were free. Free from the burden of following the law. But we were also warned about what not to do and to do. Don’t engage in self-indulgence, but rather love your neighbor.

I researched for a book on freedom when I was in grad school. Built a Website called Spirit and Freedom. Never finished either one.

But I was fascinated by the differing ideas on freedom. Some say, “I’m free from the law, now I can do anything I want.” Others say, “I’m free from the law, now I can live a fulfilled life in service to others.”

Freedom from….Freedom for.

Which have you chosen?

Paul describes the two paths.

On the one hand, the self-indulgence one, one finds

  • fornication
  • impurity
  • licentiousness
  • idolatry
  • sorcery
  • enmities
  • strife
  • jealousy
  • anger
  • quarrels
  • dissensions
  • factions
  • envy
  • drunkenness
  • carousing

On the other hand, we find

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • generosity
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

Then he concludes this last list–“There is no law against such things.”

What!? If we live like that last list, we don’t have to worry about being arrested?

Kristofferson doesn’t really say what happens with the new-found freedom. Mostly wishes for the good old days, I guess.

We can look at these two lists, though, and decide daily–which will be the way we use our freedom?

Freedom But Not Opportunity For Self-Indulgence

November 2, 2016

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. –Paul (Letter to the Galatians)

Three sentences. So much wisdom packed into them.

For those who wished to get right with God or the gods at the time of Paul, the work was all on you. You had to do things to make the gods happy with you. If you were Jewish, that meant following each one of the 600+ laws. Every minute of every day. You had to be worried about breaking a law. Other gods had their requirements.

Then Jesus came and set us free from worrying about following laws and doing things to earn God’s favor. In fact,  we can’t earn it, he said. But, God will grant us his grace if we but believe.

So, we have gained freedom. To this day, people everywhere are hoping to gain their freedom however it is defined in their culture.

But Paul knew. Like little children who first taste freedom, we take that freedom as permission to do whatever will satisfy our desires. That is why Paul teaches not to use freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence.

We see results around us. Jails and prisons are full of people who went too far and then lost their physical freedom. Therapists and counselors are kept busy with the emotional/psychological results of too much freedom spent too freely.

People throughout the centuries have hated that word “slave.” They thought it taught weakness. Loss of freedom. They are wrong.

Paul shows us the alternative. To be successful at life, we use our freedom to help others. It is the spiritual lifestyle.

It is also practical. We know–and teach–in business and marketing to focus on solving a problem for our customers. Make the customer’s problem our problem. In that sense, we are becoming a “slave” to our customer.

If we are in a family, group, organization where everyone is a servant, then we have a successful experience. Life in the Spirit trumps living in self-indulgence.

The Secrets Will Be Exposed To Light

October 12, 2016

Is a lamp brought in to be placed under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen.  –Jesus (Mark 4)

In America any boy can grow up to be President. That’s what “they” said when I was young. It meant we had a somewhat egalitarian society where preparation and hard work could get you to the top–if you were a white male, that is.

It was later in my life when “they” changed the boy part to person. And now we have an African-American President with a woman who stands a good chance of succeeding him.

But seriously–would you want to be a candidate for President? Or even US Senator? Maybe even county Commissioner?

Do you want your secrets to come to light? In front of the entire world?

Maybe yes if you did your good deeds in secret and they were exposed.

Give me dirty laundry.  –Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd nailed it many years ago. People like to hear about and read about other people’s dirty laundry. And political campaigns where the candidate is trying to portray themselves as perfect, well, they are an easy target for sleaze.

Let’s bring it closer to home. What if your dirty laundry were aired in public? I have seen numerous people who slept with someone other than their spouse. It became public knowledge in the town, church, business, or wherever. I’ve seen some react angrily that their dirty laundry became public. Well, what did they expect?

I’ve traveled over much of the country on business. Many times I’ve seen people I know from back home. Had I been with another woman (not a business associate–you can tell the difference easily), it would have been exposed even though I were 2,000 miles away from home.

And what about God? Think that your secrets are not plain for him to see?

I wish we were all perfect. Lacking that, we can take Jesus’ words for what they mean and try to live like we’re following him. And our shortcomings will be less.

The Lord’s Expectations For You

October 4, 2016

The Lord helps those who help themselves. –???

The most famous Bible verse. Except…it’s not in the Bible. At least not that way. But it is true, nonetheless.

Take the story of Paul on his trip to Rome.

The sailors took one day of good weather as a sign and left a safe harbor to continue on their way hoping to make it to Italy before winter.

We do a lot of that hoping, right? We think we see a sign, but we don’t see the signs. We confuse praying with intention for God to bring someone or something into our lives with wrapping hopes into prayer. We forget that it does no good for God to bring something into our lives if we are not prepared for it. He could bring me a client, but if I have not prepared myself with expertise to help that client then it is all for nothing.

So, like any good drama (and Luke does a really good job of telling the story in Acts 27), they get just far enough away from the safe harbor to be committed to continuing when the wind changes. Instead of gentle southerly winds furious winds from the northeast blow in.

The ship is driven helplessly for two weeks before the wind. Without their GPS (which I suppose they left at Crete), they had no idea where they were. Let’s stop a second. Think of it. Two weeks on a small ship, winds howling, waves crashing, without eating because of the fear.

Then Paul tells them to eat something because they will need their strength. He tells of an angel from his god who appeared to him. He was told that everyone on the ship would be saved. That must have gotten a laugh.

They saw land ahead. One last hope. The prepared the ship to run aground on the beach. Oops, there was a protective reef. The ship hit that. Broke apart in the waves.

Can you imagine being in a wooden ship that is breaking apart? The wave are so high and strong that they could destroy a ship. And now you have to jump in.

But every person was saved. Everyone made it to the beach. Did God lift them up and miraculously transport them to the beach? Noooo. Some swam. Some grabbed planks of wood and floated in.

The Lord did help those who helped themselves. He puts us in a situation. He expects us to act.

I’m in that situation now. I bet you are, too. Or have been.

That is our  spiritual discipline. Studying and praying, we prepare ourselves for the times God puts us in a ministry or other situation and says, “Go for it.” And we are ready to go to work.

We Are Spiritual Beings

July 1, 2015

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Teilhard is one of my favorite philosophers/theologians. He was a Jesuit priest and scientist. He was often on the wrong side of Roman orthodoxy on certain matters. 

This quote just popped up in my reading. I started to contemplate on it. 

What if… What if we lived as if we were spiritual beings? What if we stepped outside our human wrapper and saw life from a spiritual perspective?

Would we get so wrapped up in worrying about what others are doing? Would we take a broader view of issues? Could we stop being as narrow minded as we often are and start seeing the world and its inhabitants more as God sees it (us)?

Would we be so insistent about formulating rules for others to follow in order for them to prove to us that they are “Christian” or “saved”?

Would we see the spiritual side of people? Discern the evil from the good and shun the evil?

We would live like Paul describes in Galatians. Or like Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount. Or like Isaiah or Micah described.

Be free, Paul said in Galatians. Live in the spirit, receive God’s grace, and live a life of freedom.

And what is freedom? Living in the spirit and doing God’s will is freedom.