Stumbling Through Life

My photo
Please, God – Don’t strike me with lightning! I’m just trying to figure this world out. Sometimes I think and say things that are stupid. But sometimes, too, You tell me things that are so meaningful that I simply have to write them down. This blog is nothing more than a diary of some of these thoughts.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Holy Spirit: He's Been Here All Along

Today in the liturgical calendar is Pentecost Sunday; the day that the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, marking a new era in Christendom. Since that day, we have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4
How cool is that?
I can't help wondering if we're taking full advantage of the Holy Spirit. As far as I know, only some Christians (Pentecosts, for instance), really believe in His power, and, respectfully, I think they use Him more for show than for His real intent. I think the Holy Spirit is supposed to work in our lives all the time, helping us and guiding us. The Spirit really is the forgotten part of the Trinity. We pray to God. We read Jesus' words and try to emulate Him. But do we rely on the Holy Spirit? If we did, is it possible that we would have a direct line to God?
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26
I think the Holy Spirit is what we might call our conscience, and picture as that little angel sitting on our shoulder, whispering the right answer in our ear. But... what if He's real? What if we really do get the answers straight from God, but we ignore them because they're not already written down, or because someone with a title -- like Father, or Pastor, or even Doctor -- didn't say so?
While I know the Spirit doesn't make us happy all the time (God never promised that!), He does help us through the hurdles of life, if we let Him… if we let Him. But we don't. Instead, we rely on the words of friends, political pundits, and yes, even opinionated pastors, thinking they know better than we do because they say so.
I think we don't take full advantage of the most incredible thing of all; God Himself, right inside us! The Triune God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, is more reliable than friends and news stations; don't you think?
I'm only asking the question today. I want to look into this further.

Peace, Love, Spirit

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Takeaway Message of the Bible

Is it possible for a set of writings as big and as varied as the Bible to have a single "takeaway message?" You'd think not. After all, it's made up of 39 (or more, depending on who you ask) books of Hebrew Scripture, 27 (or more) books in the New Testament, in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), written over centuries by multiple authors.

It's a good thing, then, that a lawyer asked Jesus to clarify: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment."

But wait... Jesus didn't stop here. He kept talking:

"And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40

(What was that? All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments!)

In the book of Mark, he says "There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:28-31 In the book of Luke, he says, "Do this and you will live." Luke 10:26-28

"Neighbor," as Jesus explains in the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is also understood as "enemy."

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:43

There's not a lot of wiggle-room here. Christians are called to love our neighbors and our enemies, no matter what we think of them. Anyone who says otherwise is disobeying God's word.

So what's the takeaway message?

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14

That's not too complicated, is it? Some translations say one word:


What ISN'T included in this? Let's see...

Hate isn't love.
Arguing, yelling, picketing, name-calling, belittling, bullying, killing... those aren't love either. Call them what you want, but if you're busy doing any of those things, you might not have time to do the ONE THING that God wants you to do.

Love... everyone.

Peace, Love, Neighbors

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

One Truth... or Many Truths?

"...then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

truth [trooth]
noun, plural truths [troothz, trooths]
1.the true  or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2.conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3.a verified or indisputable fact, or the like: mathematical truths.
4.the state or character of being true.
5.actuality or actual existence.

I hear the question a lot; is there one Truth-with-a-capital-T, or are there many truths? I assume what people often mean by this is, "Is this religion thing right, or do we have fudge-room to get into heaven? Will other people be there too?"

As a Christian, I feel obliged to believe there is only one truth, and it's pretty well-laid out in the my Bible: 
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

(Hmm. There's no fudge-room in this statement, is there?)

As a deep thinker (humor me here), I look around and see people following different truths: Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans, Atheists, and many, many more. I can't believe they're all going to hell because they don't understand John 14:6. It's not that I don't believe in hell, but, um, God, that's pretty harsh, isn't it? Some of these people are my friends!
As a human, I think there's one truth-with-a-small-t. Something's got to be right, and something's gotta be not-right. Unless there are parallel universes, but, well, I'm not going there today.
As a hippie wannabe, I like the "follow your truth" stuff. It's empowering. It's all warm and fuzzy and makes me want to go hug a kitten. (I like kittens. That's one of my truths.)

Out of the two possibilities, (one Truth/many truths) I see a third: 
There is ONE TRUTH.
We don't know it.
Because we're not God.

Yup. That's it. So, here's my truth, for now: I'm going to keep plodding along in the direction I'm going. It seems right to me. I believe the universe is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. There's more to life than what we can see and touch. I admit, I can't get my mind around some parts of the Bible (mostly the Old Testament), but I like the idea of a personal God. I like the stuff Jesus said. That's MY truth.

I see people following other paths, though. Do their paths lead to God? I don't know. Sometimes I like to think... and this might be wrong; I'm just thinking aloud... that Jesus is a LOT more than just a 2000 year old Jewish Carpenter, and that He speaks to people in different ways. I don't mean everyone, because not everyone is seeking Him. (Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7) But if people seek Him, and they find someone called Vishnu or Allah, and they put their hearts into following the wrong god, does the "right" God close the door? Or... does He leave it open until they see Him face-to-face, and they realize the Truth? If I see God when I die, and it turns out He has green skin and His name is Barbara, will I reject Him? Or will He say, "Too late. Go to hell."? I don't know.

I'll keep praying for more understanding. After all, I believe in God, and God knows the Truth.
Peace, Love, Truth