The gifts of the Master are these: freedom, life, hope, new direction, transformation, and intimacy with God. If the cross was the end of the story, we would have no hope. But the cross isn’t the end. Jesus didn’t escape from death; he conquered it and opened the way to heaven for all who will dare to believe. The truth of this moment, if we let it sweep over us, is stunning. It means Jesus really is who he claimed to be, we are really as lost as he said we are, and he really is the only way for us to intimately and spiritually connect with God again.
Righteousness and love, law and grace, life and death, as well as time and eternity all intersect at the cross; displaying a divine wisdom that staggers the imagination and leads the humble heart to bow in thankful adoration. To understand the cross of Christ is to understand the heart of God toward a fallen world He wants to save.
Jesus Hollywood believed in a lot of things. He believed that stars were ghosts of family long since past and that he was more likely to die from an asteroid falling from the sky than another human being getting the better of him. He believed that children could see things when adults had already stopped believing.Jesus Hollywood believed that you wrote your own story. He believed that anything could happen if you really set your mind to it. He believed that, in the end, everything would be ok; if it wasn't ok, it wasn't the end.Jesus Hollywood believed that it wasn't really Jesus that raised Lazarus from the dead, but the other way around.And Jesus Hollywood sure as fuck believed in love.
If your fundamental is a man dying on the cross for his enemies, if the very heart of your self-image and your religion is a man praying for his enemies as he died for them, sacrificing for them, loving them - if that sinks into your heart of hearts, it's going to produce the kind of life that the early Christians produced. The most inclusive possible life out of the most exclusive possible claim - and that is this is the truth. But what is the truth? The truth is a God become weak, loving and dying for the people who opposed him, dying forgiving them.
So I've been thinking. Do you believe there's a hell?""Sure. Doesn't everybody?""Well, what if this is hell, but we just don't know it?""That's crazy. Hell is like lakes of fire, and there are devils with horns and pitchforks. here's none of those around here.""But what if hell's not really like that?" Grace asked. "Everyone says it's that way," I said. "I don't think Jesus every talked about fire and brimstone.""Then why do they teach us that at church?""To scare us.""Why would they want to scare us?""I don't know. I just don't think God wants us to do good things because we're scared. I think he wants us to do good things because we're good.
[Knowing God]... call it love, yes, only that can sound too emotional, or call it faith, and that can sound too cerebral. And what is it? Both, and neither... [its] the decision to be faithful, the patient refusal of easy gratifications... of Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane and on the cross, that bloody crown of love and faith. That is how I learn finally of a God who will not be fitted into my catergories and expectations... the living truth too great for me to see, trusting that He will see and judge and yet not turn me away... That is the mercy which will never give us, or even let us be content with less than itself and less than the truth... we have seen the truth enacted in our own world as mercy, grace and hope, as Jesus, the only-begotten, full of grace and truth..
The VoyagerWe are all lonely voyagers sailing on life's ebb tide,To a far off place were all stripling warriors have died,Sometime at eve when the tide is low,The voices call us back to the rippling water's flow,Even though our boat sailed with love in our hearts,Neither our dreams or plans would keep heaven far apart,We drift through the hush of God's twilight pale,With no response to our friendly hail,We raise our sails and search for majestic light,While finding company on this journey to the brighten our night,Then suddenly he pulls us through the reef's cutting sea,Back to the place that he asked us to be,Friendly barges that were anchored so sweetly near,In silent sorrow they drop their salted tears,Shall our soul be a feast of kelp and brine,The wasted tales of wishful time,Are we a fish on a line lured with bait,Is life the grind, a heartless fate,Suddenly, "HUSH", said the wind from afar,Have you not looked to the heavens and seen the new star,It danced on the abyss of the evening sky,The sparkle of heaven shining on high,Its whisper echoed on the ocean's spray,From the bow to the mast they heard him say,"Hope is above, not found in the deep,I am alive in your memories and dreams when you sleep,I will greet you at sunset and with the moon's evening smile,I will light your path home.. every last lonely mile,My friends, have no fear, my work was done well,In this life I broke the waves and rode the swell,I found faith in those that I called my crew,My love will be the compass that will see you through,So don't look for me on the ocean's floor to find,I've never left the weathered docks of your loving mind,For I am in the moon, the wind and the whale's evening song,I am the sailor of eternity whose voyage is not gone.
Like Gandalf, God knows the battle going on inside our hobbitlike selves, the wrestling match between the Baggins and the Took. The Baggins side of us takes our creature comforts for granted. We assume these comforts are part of the terms and conditions outlined in the job description Jesus offers when he says, "Follow me." But God never said anything about discipleship being comfortable. He's more interested in coaxing the Took side of us to the fore, the side that's willing to endure a little hardship for the sake of the final destination. When we learn to live without, we discover what we're really made of.
Suppose after all that death does end all. Next to eternal joy, next to being forever with those we love and those who have loved us, next to that, is to be wrapt in the dreamless drapery of eternal peace. Next to eternal life is eternal sleep.Upon the shadowy shore of death the sea of trouble casts no wave. Eyes that have been curtained by the everlasting dark, will never know again the burning touch of tears. Lips touched by eternal silence will never speak again the broken words of grief. Hearts of dust do not break. The dead do not weep. Within the tomb no veiled and weeping sorrow sits, and in the rayless gloom is crouched no shuddering fear.I had rather think of those I have loved, and lost, as having returned to earth, as having become a part of the elemental wealth of the world – I would rather think of them as unconscious dust, I would rather dream of them as gurgling in the streams, floating in the clouds, bursting in the foam of light upon the shores of worlds, I would rather think of them as the lost visions of a forgotten night, than to have even the faintest fear that their naked souls have been clutched by an orthodox god.I will leave my dead where nature leaves them. Whatever flower of hope springs up in my heart I will cherish, I will give it breath of sighs and rain of tears. But I cannot believe that there is any being in this universe who has created a human soul for eternal pain. I would rather that every god would destroy himself; I would rather that we all should go to eternal chaos, to black and starless night, than that just one soul should suffer eternal agony.I have made up my mind that if there is a God, he will be merciful to the merciful.Upon that rock I stand. –That he will not torture the forgiving. –Upon that rock I stand. –That every man should be true to himself, and that there is no world, no star, in which honesty is a crime.Upon that rock I stand.The honest man, the good woman, the happy child, have nothing to fear, either in this world or the world to come.Upon that rock I stand.
We read the pagan sacred books with profit and delight. With myth and fable we are ever charmed, and find a pleasure in the endless repetition of the beautiful, poetic, and absurd. We find, in all these records of the past, philosophies and dreams, and efforts stained with tears, of great and tender souls who tried to pierce the mystery of life and death, to answer the eternal questions of the Whence and Whither, and vainly sought to make, with bits of shattered glass, a mirror that would, in very truth, reflect the face and form of Nature's perfect self.These myths were born of hopes, and fears, and tears, and smiles, and they were touched and colored by all there is of joy and grief between the rosy dawn of birth, and death's sad night. They clothed even the stars with passion, and gave to gods the faults and frailties of the sons of men. In them, the winds and waves were music, and all the lakes, and streams, and springs,—the mountains, woods and perfumed dells were haunted by a thousand fairy forms. They thrilled the veins of Spring with tremulous desire; made tawny Summer's billowed breast the throne and home of love; filled Autumns arms with sun-kissed grapes, and gathered sheaves; and pictured Winter as a weak old king who felt, like Lear upon his withered face, Cordelia's tears. These myths, though false, are beautiful, and have for many ages and in countless ways, enriched the heart and kindled thought. But if the world were taught that all these things are true and all inspired of God, and that eternal punishment will be the lot of him who dares deny or doubt, the sweetest myth of all the Fable World would lose its beauty, and become a scorned and hateful thing to every brave and thoughtful man.
If we could believe that he [Jesus] really countenanced the follies, the falsehoods, and the charlatanism which his biographers [Gospels] father on him, and admit the misconstructions, interpolations, and theorizations of the fathers of the early, and the fanatics of the latter ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind that he was an impostor... We find in the writings of his biographers matter of two distinct descriptions. First, a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications... That sect [Jews] had presented for the object of their worship, a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust... Jesus had to walk on the perilous confines of reason and religion: and a step to right or left might place him within the gripe of the priests of the superstition, a blood thirsty race, as cruel and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. They were constantly laying snares, too, to entangle him in the web of the law... That Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God, physically speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in that lore.[Letter to William Short, 4 August, 1820]
Like the most of you, I was raised among people who knew - who were certain. They did not reason or investigate. They had no doubts. They knew that they had the truth. In their creed there was no guess — no perhaps. They had a revelation from God. They knew the beginning of things. They knew that God commenced to create one Monday morning, four thousand and four years before Christ. They knew that in the eternity — back of that morning, he had done nothing. They knew that it took him six days to make the earth — all plants, all animals, all life, and all the globes that wheel in space. They knew exactly what he did each day and when he rested. They knew the origin, the cause of evil, of all crime, of all disease and death.At the same time they knew that God created man in his own image and was perfectly satisfied with his work... They knew all about the Flood -- knew that God, with the exception of eight, drowned all his children -- the old and young -- the bowed patriarch and the dimpled babe -- the young man and the merry maiden -- the loving mother and the laughing child -- because his mercy endureth forever. They knew too, that he drowned the beasts and birds -- everything that walked or crawled or flew -- because his loving kindness is over all his works. They knew that God, for the purpose of civilizing his children, had devoured some with earthquakes, destroyed some with storms of fire, killed some with his lightnings, millions with famine, with pestilence, and sacrificed countless thousands upon the fields of war. They knew that it was necessary to believe these things and to love God. They knew that there could be no salvation except by faith, and through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.Then I asked myself the question: Is there a supernatural power -- an arbitrary mind -- an enthroned God -- a supreme will that sways the tides and currents of the world -- to which all causes bow?I do not deny. I do not know - but I do not believe. I believe that the natural is supreme - that from the infinite chain no link can be lost or broken — that there is no supernatural power that can answer prayer - no power that worship can persuade or change — no power that cares for man.Is there a God?I do not know.Is man immortal?I do not know.One thing I do know, and that is, that neither hope, nor fear, belief, nor denial, can change the fact. It is as it is, and it will be as it must be.We can be as honest as we are ignorant. If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know. We can tell the truth, and we can enjoy the blessed freedom that the brave have won. We can destroy the monsters of superstition, the hissing snakes of ignorance and fear. We can drive from our minds the frightful things that tear and wound with beak and fang. We can civilize our fellow-men. We can fill our lives with generous deeds, with loving words, with art and song, and all the ecstasies of love. We can flood our years with sunshine — with the divine climate of kindness, and we can drain to the last drop the golden cup of joy.
Jesus did not come to start a religion. He came to blow religion off the map. Jesus did not come to tinker with our ideas about God. He came to show us who God really is. Jesus did not come to build cathedrals or pulpits. He came to start a revolution. Jesus came to initiate a way of life, a new way to live, that knocks the props from beneath everything else we have ever known.
Now I think ultimately our hope is certainly that people can feel and taste the goodness of God and to find the salvation in Jesus's love and sacrifice. Sometimes the biggest barrier to that has been Christians and has been a Church that is numb to the poverty of the world or just sees our Christianity as a ticket into heaven while ignoring the hells of the world around us. And we're not willing to settle for that kind of Christianity. We believe in a kingdom that begins now and that the kingdom of God Jesus preached is not just something we're to go to when we die but that we're to bring down on earth as it is in heaven.
We must learn, then, not to HAVE a spirituality, something we turn on at a particular place or time, but to BE spiritual, as a habit of life, a continuous state of being. It is to this end that we seek after God in the stillness and hubbub of life, but always and everywhere in and through the church, where Christ is made present to us and, through us, to the world.
He chooses us, not because we believe, but that we may believe; lest we should say that we first chose Him” (Augustine). Faith receives the electing love of God not as if it had already become efficacious without faith, but aware that God’s prescience foreknows faith like all else.In accord with ancient ecumenical consent, predestination was carefully defined in centrist Protestant orthodoxy as:'The eternal, divine decree, by which God, from His immense mercy, determined to give His Son as Mediator, and through universal preaching , to offer Him for reception to all men who from eternity He foresaw would fall into sin; also through the Word and Sacraments to confer faith upon all who would not resist; to justify all believers, and besides to renew those using the means of grace; to preserve faith in them until the end of life, and in a word, to save those believing to the end' (Melanchthon).
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”This talks about an escape from temptation; it does not say that you will not be faced with more than you can handle. The mother whose baby is born and dies, the father who loses his eyesight in a construction accident and can no longer provide for his family, the child who hurries home from school every day hoping that his mother hasn’t yet succumbed to the cancer that he sees ravish her body day by day . . . all of these souls have more than they can handle—on their own.But with Christ as their companion on the journey through life—and only with Christ—all things are possible. Without Him, we fail no matter how far we manage on our own. We can never cross over without Christ and His all-access Atonement.
I wanted to ask my father about his regrets. I wanted to ask him what was the worst thing he'd ever done. His greatest sin. I wanted to ask him if there was any reason why the Catholic Church would consider him for sainthood. I wanted to open up his dictionary and find the definitions for faith, hope, goodness, sadness, tomato, son, mother, husband, virginity, Jesus, wood, sacrifice, pain, foot, wife, thumb, hand, bread, and sex. "Do you believe in God?" I asked my father."God has lots of potential," he said."When you pray," I asked him. "What do you pray about?""That's none of your business," he said. We laughed. We waited for hours for somebody to help us. What is an Indian? I lifted my father and carried him across every border.
Your child's needs are far more profound than his aberrant behavior. Remember, his behavior does not just spring forth uncaused. His behavior - the things he says and does - reflects his heart. If you are to really help him, you must be concerned with the attitudes of heart that drive his behavior.A change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemnable. Is it not the hypocrisy that Jesus condemned in the Pharisees? In Matthew 15, Jesus denounces the Pharisees who have honored him with their lips while their hearts were far from him. Jesus censures them as people who wash the outside of the cup while the inside is still unclean. Yet this is what we often do in childrearing. We demand changed behavior and never address the heart that drives the behavior.What must you do in correction and discipline? You must require proper behavior. God's law demands that. You cannot, however, be satisfied to leave the matter there. You must help your child ask the questions that will expose that attitude of the heart that has resulted in wrong behavior. How did his heart stray to produce this behavior? In what characteristic ways has his inability or refusal to know, trust, and obey God resulted in actions and speech that are wrong?
The world put's too much emphasis on what a person does in terms of monetary value and social status as opposed to who they are. If I was to ask you if you would be loved for who you are or what you do (eg. your occupation), I would guess that you would say who you are. Things are the wrong way around unless you follow Jesus.God cares about who we are primarily, not what we do. It is our character and approach to life that he cares about. God wants us to choose him and put him first which ultimately means being a servant to him and others.
Hope is magic. Hope is a gift. Hope is a raft we cling to in the midst of a storm. Hope by nature is an independent of logic. Hope is power outside of the facts.The human mind longs for something better. Hope is not rational. Yet who need rationality when God is on our side? The capacity of hope is the most significant fact in life.
When they had ended their prayers, the Angel of Death recovered his loquacity and his gayety and ascending the chariot again, preceded by Gil Gil, spoke as follows.'The village you see on that mountain is Gethsemane. In it was the Garden of Olives. On the other side you can distinguish an eminence crowned by a temple which stands out against a starry sky - that is Golgotha. There I passed the greatest day of my existence. I thought I had vanquished God himself - and vanquished he was for some hours. But, alas! on that mount, too, it was that three days later I saw myself disarmed and my power brought to naught on the morning of a certain Sunday. Jesus had risen from the dead. There, too, took place on the same occasion my great single combat with Nature. There took place my duel with her, that terrible duel (at the third hour of the day, I remember it well), when, as soon as she saw me thrust the lance of Longinus in the breast of the Saviour she began to throw stones at me, to upturn the cemeteries, to bring the dead to life, and I know not what besides. I thought poor Nature had lost her senses.'The Angel of Death seemed to reflect for a moment... ("The Friend of Death")
When Jesus was wrapping up his days on earth, he didn't tell us to go to church. He didn't tell us to engage in a spiritualized version of channel surfing, as we hop from place to place in search of just the right programming to entertain us. He told us to get out and actually do the stuff he'd already been doing, painting the hope of God's reign on the canvas of God's world. He told us we're artists.
A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt, Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose? Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation. Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same. And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves. Tenderly will I use you curling grass, It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men, It may be if I had known them I would have loved them, It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out of their mothers' laps, And here you are the mothers' laps. This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers, Darker than the colorless beards of old men, Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths. O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues, And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing. ...What do you think has become of the young and old men? And what do you think has become of the women and children? They are alive and well somewhere, The smallest sprout shows there is really no death, And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, And ceas'd the moment life appear'd. All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
A friend of mine commented yesterday that she has experienced similar insights that I talked about that all enlightened Masters and founders of religion are actually talking about the same ocean, the same invisible life source, the same God. She also said that she worked in a Christan environment at the time that she received these insights, and when she tried to share these insights with the Christians she was accused of being "impure" and of being associated with the "Devil". Christians hold on to the idea that Jesus was the only son of God, without realizing that we are all son's and daughter's of God. By holding on to the idea that Jesus is the only son of God, they do not either to realize that all enlightened Masters are talking about the same God. Jesus did not talk about faith, he talked about trust. He talked about discovering a trust in yourself and in relationship to God. Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within you. In Christianity, the church has become the intermediate between man and God, and people who claim that they have found a direct relationship to God are accused of blasphemy. The Christan church has become a barrier between man and God, and anyone who has declared that he has found a direct relationship to God are immediately banned by the church, for example Master Eckhart and Franciskus of Assisi. I have always had a deep love for Jesus, but it is not the picture of Jesus that the Christian church presents. I was a disciple of Jesus in a former life, and was thrown to the lions in Colosseum in Rome as one of the early Christians. Jesus had many more disciples than the twelve disciples mentioned in The Bible. In this life, I resigned my automatic membership in the church as soon as I could think for myself when I was 15 years old. I was also disgusted with an organization that said that they preached love and which has murdered more people than Hitler. My experience with these rare and precious insights are that they expand our consciousness of reality. They are gradual initiations into reality. They may fade away, but we will never be the same again after receiving them. They will also come more and more, the more committment we have to our spiritual growth.
Only the gospel can truly save you. The gospel doesn't make good people good; it makes dead people alive. That's the difference between the gospel of Jesus Christ and every other world religion. All the others exhort their followers to save themselves by being good, by conforming their lives to whatever their worshiped deity is. But the gospel is God's acceptance of us based on what Christ has done, not on what we can do.
Amy: Oh, typical bloke. Straight to fixing his motor.The Doctor: Well, that's the thing, Amy. I am not a typical bloke.Amy: Sorry, did I do something wrong? 'Cause I'm getting kind of mixed signals here!The Doctor: Mixed signals? How?Amy: Oh, come on. You turn up in the middle of the night, get me out of my bed in my nightie, which you then don't let me change out of for ages, and take me for a spin in your time machine? No, no, you're right, no mixed signals there. That is just a signal! Like a great, big Bat-signal in the sky. "Get your coat, love, the Doctor is in."The Doctor: ... No! No! Nonononononono, it's... not like that. That's not what I'm like!Amy: Then what are you like?The Doctor: I dunno, Gandalf. Like a space Gandalf. Or that little green guy in Star Wars... [spins around, making a lightsaber sound effect]Amy: [stifles a chuckle] You really are not. You. Are. A bloke.The Doctor: I'm the Doctor.Amy: Every room you walk into, you laugh at all the men and show off to all the girls.The Doctor: Do not.Amy: What about Rory? [the Doctor snort-laughs, gesturing toward his nose] You laughed!The Doctor: No, that was just an involuntary snort... of... fondness!Amy: You are a bloke and you don't know it. [puts her arms around him] And here I am to help.The Doctor: [pushing her away] That is not why you're here.Amy: Then why am I here?The Doctor: Because! [lowers his voice] Because I can't see it anymore.Amy: See what?The Doctor: I'm 907. After a while... you just can't see it!Amy: See what?The Doctor: Everything! I look at a star and it's just a big ball of burning gas and I know how it began and I know how it ends and I was probably there both times. After a while, everything is just stuff! That's the problem. You make all of space and time your backyard and what do you have? A backyard. But you, you can see it. And when you see it, I see it.Amy: And that's the only reason you took me with you?The Doctor: There are worse reasons.Amy: [snorts] I was certainly hoping so. [pause] Does that mean I'm not the first, then? There've been others travelling with you?The Doctor: [chuckles nervously] Yeah, sure. Loads of 'em, but just friends. You know, chums, pals, mates, buddies--not mates, forget mates.Amy: And out of all those friends, how many would you say, just out of curiosity, were girls?The Doctor: [getting increasingly uncomfortable] Oh... some of them, I suppose. Must have been.Amy: "Some?"The Doctor: It's hard to tell. It's a grey area.Amy: Under half, over half?The Doctor: Probably... slightly... a little bit over?Amy: Hmm. Young?The Doctor: Everyone's young, compared to me.Amy: [chuckles] Hot?The Doctor: No, no no no no no no, none of them. Not really. Not at all. Probably not... [scratches his cheek nervously] ... maybe one or two. I didn't really notice.Amy: Well, this big ol' machine must have some kind of visual records.The Doctor: Oh, god, I mean no--and anyway, they're voice-locked!Amy: [laughs] Oh, voice-locked. So I'd just have to say... "Show me all visual records of previous TARDIS inhabitants?"The Doctor: No, nonono, I mean voice-locked. I would have to say, "Show me all visual records of previous TARDIS inhabitants."Amy: A Thank you.The Doctor: No, no! No! No![The TARDIS makes some noises as pictures of past female companions flip by on the viewscreen]Amy: Ha-ha! Ooh, Gandalf!The Doctor: [to the TARDIS] Thanks. Thanks, dear. Miss out the metal dog, why don't you?Amy: Is that a leather bikini? [pictures of Leela start to flip by]The Doctor: Right! That's it. Rory. We're going to find Rory, and we're gonna find him now!Amy: He's at his stag night.The Doctor: Well, then. Let's make it a great one.