A voicehearer’s path ~

Archive for September, 2008

Child Evangelism ~

Once upon a time, I had the pleasure of caring for a young child as a “baby sitter cum foster mom”. Her mother had left the home situation and the child and ran off with a druggie friend. She was in my care for about four years and I enjoyed almost every minute of it, I say almost since she was inclined to scream if she didn’t get her way, and I am stubborn enough that getting her way was not going to happen if her way was something that was not good for her.

Her father allowed her to be picked up each Sunday morning by a bus from a local church. I had asked him at one point if he had any idea what they taught her, and he said it was just something for her to do, it didn’t matter what they taught. (YIKES!) It was not but maybe a month later that a friend and I had been discussing spiritual things over a cup of coffee at my kitchen table. BJ started to tell us I was wrong, that God would be angry if we didn’t do what he said and we needed to go to the church she was going to on Sunday mornings.

I asked her Papa if that was what he wanted his daughter to think about G-d. He said no, perhaps he would stop her from going. I asked if he would let me find a church that at least taught of G-d as a loving friend who cared about her, not the angry G-d she was being taught about. He consented and I found a church that would pick her up for him that taught that Jesus was her friend.

That was at least some improvement, though, like many others, I prefer to allow children to start learning about G-d when they start asking the questions, first because that is the point at which they are ready to hear about God, and second because all I feel a child should be concerned with is that

  1. God is love,
  2. God loves you,
  3. God is there as your friend,
  4. We live in a world that isn’t always fair,
  5. God cares even when the world isn’t fair,

Those are the basics that it seems even we adult children need to remember, and sometimes even that is more than we can understand. Since I do not see Y’shua as G-d incarnate, I have difficulty with the entire thrust of Evangelism, not just the Children’s ministry. I believe that if one truly lives in a manner that bespeaks kindness at all turns of the wheel, that alone will bring those who are interested to question what grounds us in such a way of being. I believe that it is a most dishonorable thing for those of us who do believe that God is real to invade the homes of those who do not believe G-d and pluck out their children from them. It smacks of the very things Evangelicals fear most; the “state” removing their children and putting them in government, atheistic facilities to grow up without God in their lives at all. We return then to Y’shua’s teachings, if you do not want it done to you, do not do it to others!

Choices ~

I live in a country where it seems the choices of how to live one’s life are unlimited. You can be anything you want to be, so long as you have the innate ability to carry it off. If you really want to, you can become an astronaut, and litterally reach for the stars. But the choices are also there to take us into the very pits of a living H*ll. I am not one who believes in an eternal h*ll for the average person.

This does not mean we cannot lower ourselves to experience such horror, it simply means that, considering the grace of an Almighty Creator, I truly doubt if an average person, trying to make out the best they can with what they have will be condemned to an eternity of either ice or fire. The belief that man is totally depraved and deserving of eternal death is actually rather unrealistic and sounds more like the ravings of a depressed individual that needs therapy.

I am aware that Hashem is perfect and shining and awesome and totally beyond our imaginations, I am also aware that in comparison to that vision we are shadowy beings at best. But, I want you to look at the writings of a man whose words mean a great deal to the Evangelicals, i.e. Paul. In I Corinthians chapter 13, he speaks of Love, genuine from the heart caring, and he does a very nice job.

1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

There, in the 5th verse, is the key to my commentary. for if G-d is Love (1John4:7&8), then G-d keeps no record of wrongs. So, who does keep a record, and is that one more powerful than Hashem? And is the one who condemns your G-d? The one who condemns is not my G-d. I choose love, and I choose to love. No, it does not make the nastiness of living in a limited dimension disappear, but it does ease the pain. Choose love first, always.

That “Judging” thing ~

It seems necessary to at sometime or other discuss what Y’shua actually meant and why it is so important, in the path he taught, to refrain from “judging” others. Now, this is, on one hand, painfully simple, i.e. don’t make any judgments regarding the worthiness of another human being. On the other hand, there are so many things that require some sort of judgment, even who you will spend time with, that it is impossible to refrain from judging even for 24 hours.

So what, exactly, is the “judging” that Y’shua was referring to, and what does it mean for us, as followers of his path? For me it means never judge another human being as being “greater” than you before G-d, and never judge another human being as “lesser” than you before G-d. And then, of course, comes the childlike question of “Why?”

I will try to be clear about my own understanding of this prickly subject. When you judge another person as being “greater” or more “worthy” of God’s love than you, you give away a part of your own identity before God, something Y’shua felt so strongly important that you retain, that he repeatedly called his students “sons and daughters” of g-d, so that they would grow in self-esteem, and not let others take their identity from them.

Conversely, when you judge another as unworthy of G-d’s love, in that you think of them as less worthy of God’s love than you or someone else, you take away from them a part of their identity before G-d in your own mind, {you do not actually affect them before God, remember, you only affect your own standing} but in so doing, you are telling G-d and all around you that you are “higher” in G-d’s esteem than that soul, which is something you really do not know without seeing their whole life, and what made them the way they are. That is the reason that we are cautioned that this is G-d’s purview, not our own.

But what do we do about those whom Y’shua said were putting forth bad fruit and would be cut off from life? Nothing. It is not ours to judge them. However, it is ours to judge where we go, what we do, where and with whom we spend our time. In other words. You as a person cannot say that that person is unworthy of Hashem’s mercy, i.e. love, but you can know that you have no business spending time with them, not because of worthiness, but because you may not have the strength to act differently when you are around them.

And, painfully, that is where the distinction lies altogether. If you are not strong enough as an individual on the Path of Y’shua to act according to his teachings and will fall into the behavior of those with whom you spend your time, then you shouldn’t be with people who are not also on that path.

But that has nothing to do with whether they will ultimately be led to walk the right path, that has to do with the fact that the strength of your convictions is not deep enough to keep you going in the right direction if you are not among people going in the same direction. So, the best thing to do is to quit pointing fingers at others, as you remember that each time you do, you are pointing three fingers back at yourself.

The point, then, becomes the difference between what you can judge and what you must leave in the hands of Hashem. You cannot even judge your own worthiness before G-d, it isn’t yours to do. You can, however, judge what you do each day, where you go, and how you act, and in this manner make conscious choices, hour by hour as to whether you will walk in compassion or walk in judgment. The choice isn’t our neighbor’s, the choice is ours.

Hi,

Sorry to have missed a couple of days, I have been in the hospital with angina. I am recoverening nicely and am now at home, so hope to post something new, tonight. Thanks for stopping by, and hope you are enjoying the blog,

Su

My Hero ~

Y’shua is very much a hero to me. I love the teachings he brought. I love that he was a rebel and a bit of a rabble rouser, but then, I always did like the “bad boys”. I have never doubted that he had an incredible sense of humor. There is a lot of material appearing these days saying he was married. I do not know if that was true. I think it was altogether possible, I have always felt he was very male.

But, I have long since thought that he did not teach his disciples in any way that he was God incarnate. They were Ivrit, and sons of Ivrit, and could not have stayed with him if they had thought he believed that. There are a couple of places in the gospels that say, as in the garden, that the crowd picked up stones to throw at him, but I don’t believe that was in the original Gospel. I do believe he taught that he had a solid, loving relationship with Hashem, and that it was available to all mankind if they would follow the path he was teaching (which could easily be twisted by folks with less than honest intent!).

I do believe that the bishops at Istanbul (Constantinople) chose only the four Gospels they chose, out of more than 100, because these were the ones that could be altered as little as possible to reflect the God-Man Constantine felt “inspired” to present to the world.

If the Church fathers could produce just one ancient copy of one of the Gospels in Aramaic or temple Hebrew, and it said what the current gospels say, and held it’s own through all the aging and scholarly tests any skeptical expert wanted to put it through, I’d quit thinking of myself as Thomasina. But, apparently the oldest manuscripts available are Greek. That would make sense for Luke’s Gospel, he was a Greek physician writing to a Greek friend, and he was traveling with Paul, who spoke Greek better than Hebrew.

So, Paul’s letters would be in Greek. Now, I know that he said he was a Jew’s Jew, but I am not certain of that at all. First, I am fairly certain he was educated in Greece, that makes his perspectives on Hashem suspect, at least. Then, one of the things that hampered the original 12 that doesn’t seem to have stopped Paul at all is that they had been taught for a lifetime that you do not proselytize. It’s hammered so thoroughly into the Jewish mind that even in a loving relationship¬† with a gentile a Jew will go out of their way to convince the gentile that they may not want to become a Jew.

But, Matthew was supposed to have been a Jew, a tax-collector, to be sure, one of the despised among the despised, and probably fluent in Greek as well as Latin, but a Jew, so why write his gospel in Greek? And Mark, isn’t it thought that he grew up listening to Y’shua? One of the children of the entourage?

And John Boanerges? Now, he was a Jew’s Jew, may be not from the Sanhedrin, but then, he shows no signs of putting on airs anywhere. He was a fisherman, and so quite probably fluent enough in Greek or Latin to get by in the marketplace, but at home he would have spoken Aramaic, and as the son of righteous Jews he would have at least known how to write in Temple Hebrew.

In fact, he and Y’shua would always have communicated in Aramaic or Hebrew. Take for instance the point on Patmos when Y’shua announced himself. Now remember my stance on the I Am business, what if Y’shua said, “The I Am is the Aleph and the Tov, the beginning and the end . . .” Now, that wouldn’t be a challenge to understand at all, not at least if you knew that the Aleph was considered to have been given by Hashem to Moshe as is, sacred, and representative of the eternal creative forces that shape and mold all of life. The Tov then is the completion and joyous redemption of all creation. Furthermore, there is no reason to presume that Y’shua would have addressed John in anything but Aramaic or Hebrew, so why would John choose to write the book for us in another non circular language that cannot even begin to convey the nuances that are part and parcel to the language of their forebears?

So, you surely ask why this teacher should, after all that, still be my hero. Well, think about it. His teachings were of peace. His teachings were of compassion. His teachings are still there, in the Gospels, tainted, to be sure, but there nevertheless. When I began this journey, and had severe doubts as to what Y’shua would actually have taught, I contemplated Buddhist teaching, and I went to a Wichasha wakan of the Lakota people. I began to see a pattern in all the teachings. Compassion is an abiding concept throughout. That means that there is, somewhere in back of it all, one teacher, may be not actually Y’shua in the flesh, but the Spirit of Holy Wisdom, it would seem. So, he represented her if I am right about the “I Am” twist. And I guess I will just have to wait and see how far off I am.

BTW, I will always suspect the conversion of a man of war who, instead of putting away his sword for the sake of peace, places the cross on his standards as though to say to his enemies, “Here, I’ll show you power!” Modern Christianity began in war, and it still as often as not serves war, even to the point where accolytes are called “Soldiers of the Cross”, yeah, and the Moschiak is called the “Prince of Peace” in the Tanakh. Hm, any wonder the Hebrew scholars doubt?

Anger, there is help . . .

Dealing with my own anger issues has been one of the toughest problems, but one of the most important to accomplish. When I am incredibly angry, the “low” voices are at their strongest, and I can hear them most clearly. Their presence is uncomfortable in and of itself, and reason enough to find ways to deal with this very normal emotion.

For me, and apparently for all humans, intense anger blocks the flow of love. Now, that’s only logical, but, when you think about, and indeed consciously contemplate it, that would explain quite clearly why some one like me is particularly bothered by the angry blockage of that flow.

At the risk of sounding terribly esoteric, I will try to explain this as I understand it. Apparently, there is some sort of tear or opening in the “fabric” that protects the human entity from hearing the sounds, and seeing the events, that happen on subtler, less visible or audible layers of the universe. I wish I could put this in more scientific terms, but I am under the understanding that it has something to do with the bands of light and sound that are normally perceptible to the human eye and ear.

Now, I am not insisting that what I hear is the result of some sane and sober process, because it often feels just the opposite, and I am quick to discourage those who would willingly subject themselves to any “New Age” process that might open one to this sort of thing. Don’t do it, it’s not fun. Learning to live with it has been a harrowing process and I have made many, some disastrous, mistakes in the learning process!

Now, put that insight into practice in that this “window” or tear leaves me open to hearing “low” angry, nasty destructive voices. When I open myself, however, to love and release my own anger, the flow of the loving energy “blocks”, if you will, the sound of the “low” voices. This was one of the most important steps in my development, and happened under the minstering of “Charismatics”, which is why I will not label that way of life as evil. They did me much good. It is simply that, like all human perspectives, they are not perfect. Oooops, neither am I.

The next step in my learning, however, came from a Buddhist teacher who showed me the benefits of “letting go”, completely, of all attachment to outcomes. I will not say that I have been a resounding success at this, but most of the time I am able, sometimes with much prayer and meditation, to let go of my “right” to expect the results I want from what I do, or even from what others do. It is extremely helpful in that I get angry less often when I succeed at this, and am able to relax and let the flow of love keep the disturbing voices at bay.

It is here that the mantra, “Grant me the serenity, courage and wisdom . . .” has been of great service in my life. I am most grateful to AA for making their teachings public, and most grateful to Dr. Neibuhr for development of that prayer.

EDIT ~

12.3.2008, looking back to see what I had said, I find that I did not give the name of the Buddhist teacher whose worked helped me so much. Since his teaching is quite available to the public, that is unfair. Thich Nhat Hanh is his name, the book is Anger, Wisdom for Cooling the Flames. Excellent learning resource, and comes in CD as well.

Courage and Wisdom ~

What I did not finish yesterday, because I got too wordy, is that Serenity is achieved via something the Buddhists refer to as detachment, but that implies an unhealthy lack of engagement in your surroundings. I have come to call this phenomenon compassionate disentanglement. You always maintain a caring attitude toward even those who would wrap you up in their melodramas. However, you maintain your own sacred space into which that melodrama cannot reach. This is not easy, as most of those who weave such melodramas are expert at wrapping others into their story.

One of the worst and most melodramatic is the victim, persecutor, rescuer triangle. This is a classic scenario and goes perfectly toward making to point of the Serenity prayer. The “victim” confides in you that he or she is in an abusive situation with another adult and is asking your advice, hoping you will help to find a way to rescue him/her. Many times the abuse is very real, and your heartstrings are twanging that this is simply not just. Most of all, if you are truly a spiritual being, your loving nature just can’t stand to see some one victimized in this way.

However, let me warn you. Should you come to the “rescue” and succeed in getting the abuser jailed or otherwise punished the “victim” will come to their rescue, and you will be the villain. Their storyline? “I didn’t mean for this to happen, I love “Henry”, I didn’t want him hurt.” And now you are the “bad guy”.

Remember the prayer, repeat it like a mantra. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” You and the victim can go to the public library, not your home unless this is someone you already know. Look up help for victims of violence, explore the websites with them and be supportive, but don’t be their “savior”.

You can get them counsel with appropriate officials who can help and also council the “victim” about their role in the melodrama. You can be supportive of them in this venture, for this is where they will need courage, as it is theirs to change and get out of the melodrama. That must come from within them; it is not something you can give them. If the person you are assisting backs away and doesn’t want to use this kind of help, dismiss the entire scenario from your mind, as it was not yours to help. (And indeed, might have been a setup to rob you.)

Do not, I repeat, do not go after “Henry”!

Always, as one who serves Spirit, be ready to help another find help of the right sort, but refrain from thinking of yourself in any saviorist role. You can connect others to the help they need, you can serve as a listening ear, with a loving heart. But the minute you are expected to take any action for or against a third party; start looking for places for them to get the help they need. This will, indeed, take more courage than giving “Henry” a black eye, but this is very much a part of discerning the difference between an area where you can help, and an area where you cannot. Have the Wisdom to stay compassionately disentangled.

There is another factor here. If you find yourself surrounded by this sort of melodrama, what are you doing to invite it? And if you are inviting it, are you doing so with the ability to lend a compassionate ear, or are you becoming embroiled in the melodrama, and therefore have become part of the problem?

This is why the 12 steps caution to look for what Spirit wants of and for you, not for you to go minding the sacred space of another. Most of us have had some form of dysfunction in our home lives. The rare ones are those who have not. Look to the needs of cleaning your own nest before you attempt to help your neighbor clean hers or his. When you read Y’shua’s caution on this, you think in terms of judgment, as that is the context of the comment, but it is important to remember that there is another facet to that gem.

You are not able to help others if you are still crippled by what you are carrying in your heart. Here, again, is where the “searching inventory” is necessary, in examining yourself daily, you can discern more readily what you can and cannot change. You will find that in communicating daily with Spirit, you will find the courage to change those things you can, and compassionately disengage from the scenario where you would only add to the problem. Another safeguard is to keep, always, a back-up. Someone human to whom you can talk that can help you stay objective so that you can do the most good, with the least amount of trauma to yourself or others.

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