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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Wrestling with Paul

I'm preparing a two part series on Paul to be given two Sundays in July. I've read at least 7 books in the past year about Paul, each with varying slants and assessments. I want to present the best scholarship and also my own conclusions up to this point in time. I want to inspire and lift. I want to be accurate and clear.

The series I've named "Will the Real Paul Please Stand Up?" I've worked on my PowerPoint for week one, which I'm dubbing Paul 101, and I will soon begin to work on part two, Paul Speaks to Us Today.

I'm issuing a challenge to people present week one to either take a big or mini challenge -- read all 7 authentic letters and select some verses that inspire you and bring them back to week 2 for discussion, or pick one letter and do the same.

I want to lead people to engage in deeper ways with their spiritual journey. I want to lead people to experience in the deep interior parts of self the great spiritual truths that change one's life. My life goal is to make a positive difference.

At the same time, I wrestle with the bizarre attacks on our assets, with the ongoing challenge of trying to end it, understand it, move beyond and out of it, and to not allow it to stop me from being me or from participating in life.

I stand with one foot in one world and the other foot in an opposite world. It is difficult. It would have been impossible without my relationship with God.

God of my depth, God of the vastness, I pour out thanksgiving to you for being with me, for guiding me, for whispering in my soul. Lead me always dear God. If it is Your Will, lead us out of these challenging twists and onto a higher path of Your Freedom. Surround whoever caused/causes our anguish with Your Light and lift him/her/them in Your healing and heart opening Love. Inspire and Guide me as I prepare the two sermons on Paul for next month. Lead me to give the messages You would have me give. Again, I Thank You from all levels of my being. Amen

Monday, June 18, 2018

Church and the Future

We just came back from the California/Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church. Some statistics hit me, slap, across my awareness. In the 1960's over 50% of the adults in the United States were active members of a mainline church. Today it is 13%!!! At that rate, they will soon be gone.

I ponder what can be done to turn this tide around? Should it? Is it time for something else?

I love church. I've spent most of my life as a child and an adult in church with some sort of a role from volunteer to senior pastor. My understanding has matured. I am not the little Sunday School girl singing Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. WAIT! Maybe we should go back to those songs on second thought. What a fabulous place this would be if our hearts and lives sang that song, acted out that song and loved as we have been called to love.

Maybe the modern sophisticated earthling could use a dose of the old Sunday School Songs.

Monday, June 11, 2018


When I was a little girl in school in California, we had regular fire AND atomic bomb drills. The atomic bomb drills involved us getting under our school desks, curling up and covering our heads with our hands and arms. In later life I, of course, realized how dumb that was. As if that would protect us from an atomic bomb.

The repeated drills were terrifying, telling us over and over how vulnerable and in danger we were. For me, however, there was also born in me an inner scream --- I want, WANT, peace on earth.

Just one more nuclear memory, and I could share dozens. The Cuban Missile crisis  threat had us pretty certain Russian missiles were going to rain down on us from Cuba. I was in college and took the night off work to.hold my baby son all night so he would not die alone. President Kennedy stared them down, and by morning the crisis was over. The Times were horrid. I suppose if you weren't there, it is hard to grasp our terror.


So this very moment a meeting is going on in Singapore that has immense potential for peace. This day is momentous, historic. I pray we all hold this in our hearts prayerfully and sincerely. May there be peace on earth.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Unintended Consequences

Since we don't have 100% foresight, sometimes things we do for all the right reasons, as far as we can tell, have odd surprise consequences. I know that sometimes we have flashes of knowing future things, but they seem to be sporadic and not always reliable.

So we go forth with courage to do our best, make the decisions that come from our most deeply held values, and really have to hope for the best. Most of the time the event and the unintended consequences are small and even humorous. But then, there are times when the "other shoe drops" it turns out to be a whole shoe store.

A month or so ago, I was praying about our current difficult situation. I heard this response:
I am taking care of it. How I work it out will be surprising.
The past few days have brought some answers that are way beyond surprising. It is taking a weight off of my shoulders to begin to be able to make sense of what has been happening, and at the same time it is sorrowful to my inner self. A decision I made decades ago, based on a big dream of my life, moving in a powerful direction for hopeful breakthroughs - was the beginning seed of our current troubles! How oh how can this be? How can such awful fruit fall on us from such a beautiful seed? How can such consequences, unintended though they are, be the result of my sincere decision?

Part of me is in shock.

Are there other decisions that will be delivering such immense unintended consequences? 

As this particular one unravels (so I am told), I hope and pray I will never be in such a situation again, never, never, never!  I pray I am more aware of the possible future fruits that would be likely down the road as I decide this and that.

Yet, as I look over the initial decision, I would do it all over again. It was the right thing to do, maybe not for me personally, but in order to be true to my most deeply held inner values and Guidance. From it came not only the deep valley of recent times, but also seeds of goodness and hope. I do my best to listen and follow the Guidance of Spirit, even though it may mean I have to go through some painful growing times, deprivation and finally freedom. This earth school is a strange and fascinating place. Even so, I have always known God is with me always, and I am not abandoned by the One Who Counts eternally.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Discern the Truth

It seems to me, most people want to know the Truth and live the Truth. A huge question always comes to my mind - how do I know what IS THE Truth? How can I tell it from a lie? Especially when I consider things past, when I can't ask questions or look into the eyes, is this or that a lie or truth or Truth?

My childhood beliefs have crumbled under the eye of the quest for Truth. Santa, the Tooth Fairy and Leprechauns all had to go away. Some of the books of the Bible had to go away or be looked at differently. I was shocked that only 7 of the letters attributed to Paul are genuine and the rest written much later and by other people long after Paul was dead. The Gospels were called The Memoirs of the Apostles and were considered anonymous, not named until sometime after 150 C.E. The Romans crucified thousands upon thousands of people, not just Jesus and the "two thieves." Pilot was a terrible, mean, violent man. And on and on.

I was shattered for awhile when I learned all this and more. It sent me on a serious quest to find out what really happened, what was the Truth.

Historians helped, but they don't all agree on some of the issues. Some things were so long ago, lived in a time with no recording devices and tiny % of literacy so that no one will likely ever know definitively.

Where I am today is this:

  • Read and listen to the people supposed to be most authoritative in whatever area we are researching.
  • Use common sense.
  • Listen to our own internal signals.
  • Meditate, contemplate, journal - stay in touch with Spirit.
  • Make working hypotheses that are open to change when more information is available.
  • Have some touchstone ideas that are our for sure, rock  bottom, I'd bet the farm on them ideas, and check out the "new" idea against these. 
As for the last one above, I know that loving kindness is indicative of a spiritually awake person. I know that unconditional love is one of our assignments here on earth. If an idea is opposite, I know it is false.

I know that God is present with us, every moment. If an idea places God far away physically or in time, I know that it is false.

So I recommend you jot down your touchstone ideas and check things out against them. It is freeing and a big step spiritually. So, go for it.