Aug
21
2017
0

How To Make Dollars As A Writer Doing Work From Residence Assignmentpay.com

How To Make Dollars As A Writer Doing Work From Residence Assignmentpay.com

do my assignment for me

When it comes to writing assignments, students dearly love breaks, because frequent breaks paper writer help them not only to stay motivated and fresh, but also their concentration levels become high as they can get some time to re-energize their brain cells. Our services are affordable as well as convenient to all students as we have provided assignments to students all around the world in countries such as the write a book review USA, New Zealand and South Africa. Students generally want someone who can help them overcome difficult situations and guide them throughout the complex academic tasks.

Our expert case study research writers know their job and have always prepared formally accurate papers. But by availing the write my paper or assignment assistance, one may easily bid adieu sites that do your homework to all such menial worries. With so many advantages, it is clear that if students pay someone to do their assignments, they do not just avoid the downsides of academic pressure but also give a boost to their scholastic career with minimal efforts.

do my assignment

Moreover, an extensive plagiarism analysis too is applied on all the projects. With a decade of experience in academic writing industry, we best understand what students want from help with my assignment us. This is how easy it is with us, to take an assignment break if you want and our writers will be there to get your assignment done without any real worries. Every student now is saying that the ceaseless shower of my college and university assignments are creating only negative effects on my learning research paper thesis statement process.

Our expert writers know their job and have always prepared formally accurate papers. For custom paper students, life can be hard at times and they often wonder, “Who can write assignment for me?” The answer to this simple question is BuyAssignmentService.com, as we provide you with professional writers who will take away all your worries and make sure that you get the best written Essays that is not only original but also detail oriented. For a scholar who has never taken do my homework and assignment help, this statement may sound 2nd grade writing paper contradictory.

Written by Social Media Launchpad in: General |
Nov
16
2013
0

The Contradictions of Christian Condemnation & Some Thoughts About Love

Christians have a lousy rep these days for being overly judgmental. This is bad for a lot of reasons.  The first reason is, of course, that judgment hurts. It hurts the minds and hearts of those burdened under the weight of the sneers and grumbles, and it also hurts the person judging, as they themselves fall into the darkness surrounding ignorance, and get stuck in that sightless space, blindly doing far more harm than good to the life inside of them and around them.

The second reason this is bad for our faith as Christians is that in feeling puffed up enough to say something negative about the way another person is living, is in direct contradiction to the very foundation of belief which causes some to unjustly feel they have a right to judge.  In short,  it’s the complete opposite of everything Jesus taught and stood for, while he was alive and with us (Ref: Matt7:1-3 , John 8:7, Luke 6:37, and on and on it goes. Basically, just open The Book and you’ll find this truth, there).

As Christians, if we are faithful to our belief, we’re called to do something different. We’re supposed to be the people in the world who accept anyone and everyone, regardless of the countless ways they’re shunned by the rest. And, in fact, if we’re doing our jobs, if we’re living into our belief, the more someone is condemned and pushed away by larger society, the more deeply we should be led to embrace them, and help them find sanctuary inside our doors. When someone faces a sneer, we’re called to smile. When someone is pushed away, we’re called to take them in our arms and show them the real meaning of unconditional love.  That is the heart of the gospels, and the true passion of the life of Christ.

To use Christianity as a justification for judgment is to destroy whatever Christianity dwells inside of us.

But alright—let’s be honest. It’s unfortunately a natural thing to judge. It’s a human thing to judge. This is one of the reasons the teachings of Jesus were so startling to begin with. To hold back from judging someone is entirely awkward to our experience as people. It’s a pushing away of a very natural  urge (as dark as it may be) inside of us.

So it takes a lot of practice. If we’re being honest with ourselves, and hope to truly face that dark stuff inside of us, we have to first acknowledge that it’s there. We have to admit the fact that holding back from judgement against others—whether we’re Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist, etc— unfortunately takes a lot of work and attention,  if we hope to one day get it right. Judgement sneaks up on us, in some of the quietest places in our minds and souls.

As a pastor, I’ve been a part  of a lot of conversations with fellow Christians about some horrible thing that had happened to someone else at the hands of another who’d committed a brutal crime against them. Often, the response goes something like this:

“Well, it’s not my place to judge. God will do the judging, and I just hope God will give them the  punishment they deserve.”

Seems simple enough, right? But—youch. Even beneath that very simple statement, the darkness of judgment still bites at each word.

It sneaks up on you.

Mentioning the harsh punishment someone “deserves,” is basically just a deferred judgment, rather than the absence of judgment, itself.  And if we’re trying to reflect from inside of us what we hope to see shine down on our own experience of this life (Ref: Matt 7:12)—our own experience of  God —we can’t hope that God will “punish” those who’ve done wrong, unless we’re hoping God will “punish” us for each of the wrongs we’ve committed in our own lives, right?

And it becomes even sneakier, here.  In mentioning all of this, am I right now being judgmental toward judgmental people? Ugh! Really sends the mind for a loop, doesn’t it?

When we try to stand high enough to look out at the world and see what’s “right” and what’s “wrong,” we’re standing atop a very slippery slope. One which usually sends us tumbling down to fall flat on our asses.

So maybe we can find balance here: Maybe what we’re called to do, is not to try and climb up to a higher place than we belong, but to let ourselves settle into that down-to-earth place that is our home, with everybody else. Knowing that we’re all in this together. Knowing that we all do things which are sometimes okay, and sometimes not. Knowing that we’re all screwed up, just in different ways. Knowing that not one of us lives a perfect life, free from flaw (and what is a “perfect life,” anyway, aside from the Holy Living God?). Knowing that what’s “right” and what’s “wrong” is always, always, always, in the eye of the beholder, changing from mind to mind, experience to experience. Knowing that when we look into the eyes of another, we’re only looking into a different part of ourselves, all being one in God; and that when we condemn others, we’re only condemning ourselves. … And in knowing all of this, letting ourselves love each other—love ourselves—no matter which different imperfect part of us we look into as we walk around.

Living into the heart of Christianity is to live with a heart of acceptance, love, compassion, and care for all parts of the one Life of God, which lives and breathes and moves through each one of us as tiny fragments of the Holy Whole.

So to make a long blog longer with a short, simple thought:  Unconditional love is the way of Christ. Hate over particulars is something else.  If we are Christians, we will love all people, at all times, in all circumstances, and in all places, just as we know we are loved by God.

And as complicated as some of the questions in our minds might sometimes seem, if love is our response, I think we’ve found the answer.

 

 

 

 

Oct
31
2013
0

A Welcomed Haunting

What is the afterlife? And whatever the afterlife is, does it somehow overlap with this one? With our present life? I’ve always had my own interpretations of what might happen after we stop living as we are and move on to something else; but,  of course, none of us can really know until we experience this transition ourselves, right?

A lot of people believe we rejoin our loved ones who’ve already passed. Personally, I never really bought into this idea. As I’ve grown,  my thoughts moved toward the notion that our energy, in a more scientific sense, simply moves from one state to another, taking whatever new form in the universe most fitting to the positive or negative energy we each dwell in while we’re here, on earth.

As a pastor, this belief has always been sort of inconvenient—especially when it comes time to lead a funeral. See, a lot of people hold a lot of hope in the thought of being reunited with the people they love, after death; and it’s my place to nurture hope, not to raise blood pressures and suffocate souls with pessimistic fear.  So I’ve always kind of kept my personal beliefs about the afterlife to myself.

And it’s a good thing I did, because I think I might have been wrong.

Something happened the other day to change my mind. To make me doubt what I thought I knew,  in the face of new belief.

Just to give you a little background, my grandma, Annie, died in 1998. After she passed, both my mom and my aunt reported having seen her sitting at the end of each of their beds, in the middle of the night. I did not see this, though I believed what they said was true.  After that moment, neither of them reported any sense of her.

My grandpa, Frank (her husband), died just a little over two years ago. His presence was strong after his passing. He came to visit many of us,  in not only the days following his death, but months.  I actually had an experience of him, too. Given my profession, I was asked to speak at his funeral and help lead the ceremony.  There were questions amongst the family as to what should be done for him, during the service. Some said it would be too difficult to find someone to play Taps. Despite the fact that he was a WWII veteran, they were all nearing the conclusion that this piece wouldn’t be performed.  That day—the day he died—I was out and about, and out of the blue, a man walked up to me and asked what I did for a living. I thought the seemingly random question quite odd as I stared into his piercing blue eyes and shaved head (the features most prominent in my own grandfather, btw).  Still slightly shocked, I told the man I was a minister. He immediately went on to tell me he was a military chaplain.  After these words, he told me the two most important things to do for a soldier after passing are to 1) play Taps, and 2) commemorate their passing with the folding of the flag. Then he just walked away. Not another word.

I hadn’t told him my grandpa had just died. I hadn’t told him I was supposed to help lead his funeral, or that the family was presently asking questions over those exact matters.

Still gives me goosebumps, remembering.

Other things happened to other family members, lasting over the next several months. Then, he just seemed to fade away—maybe heading off to wherever he was going.

None of this changed my mind about whether or not we’re reunited with our loved ones after death.  I considered these things to be moments of transition before that more scientific journey took place—before his energy fully transformed to that other state.

It was only last week, when my thoughts were forced to change.

I was sitting at my computer, working late. My husband was out, and I was alone in the house. Of course, most of my work requiring the computer, a lot of times I wander away to Facebook for a moment (or two, or three) ;) … and while I was there, I changed my profile pic to one taken of me at my little brother’s recent wedding.  I was waving my hand in the picture; and as I shared it, immediately my aunt  (my grandmother’s daughter) chimed in, telling me the photo reminded her of the way I used to put olives on my fingers and wave them around, when I was just a little one. I typed back to her, talking about Grandma Annie. About the way black olives always reminded me of her, and how I still sometimes put them on my fingers, to this day, just to remember her.  As I typed the words, the song she’d played over and over and over again, just before she died, started playing through the speakers. I was not listening to this artist, or any music of his category, prior to this moment. This was the song she told all of our loved ones, very pointedly before she died, that she wanted each of us to listen to, to remember her, after she was gone.

The sound of her song filled my ears, and tears filled my eyes as I communicated with her daughter over this picture of me, her granddaughter, at my little brother’s wedding (always her favorite grandchild)—a wedding I’d known she’d missed, and one that would have made her life feel complete in being a part of, if she were still here.

From that moment on—through nearly the rest of the night—I felt strangely overwhelmed by the sense of her. I can’t explain it. But at the time, I couldn’t escape it—as if I was smelling her perfume and cinnamon Trident gum all around me, the sense of her was so strong.  Past this, I felt wrapped up almost entirely in a sense of my grandpa’s company as well. I looked around at my study, and realized how powerfully they were both still with us.  All around me were signs of the ways their lives had impacted my own, and still guided me to this day. And I was washed over with a knowledge that they were proud. But most of all–together. And that they were happy. Then, at one point, close to midnight, the feeling just went away. Suddenly. Like a person walking from a room, they were gone.

Now, again, I can’t logically explain any of this, okay? Nothing like this had ever happened to me, before. I don’t think myself some kind of Jennifer-Love-Hewitt-Ghost-Whisperer, alright? I consider myself a very logical and level-headed person. I prize myself over the fact, actually. And all of what I just described is easily reasoned away by the idea that I just missed my grandma after typing those things back and forth with my aunt, right?

… But here’s where things get weird.

That sense of my grandparents being together—and being happy—had washed over me so powerfully, that I actually texted my mom, knowing it was the middle of the night but hoping she might wake up, so I could share this very strange and unusual experience with her.  She didn’t pick up the text (having an iPhone, I can see the date and time she reads them).

The next morning, I got a call from her. Three, actually.  Back to back. Then I got a text. I was heading off to Sunday service, so I couldn’t answer; but when I finally spoke to her, her voice was rattled. Shaken. Astonished. Apparently, she’d woken up with that very same overwhelming experience which had also overtaken me, the night before. She told me she’d opened her eyes to a sense of her mother—and father–together. My mom explained to me that she was so overwhelmed by this sense, in fact, that she actually had a long talk with my dad about what she was feeling, over coffee, being surprised to have such an experience  so long after her mother’s death.

She hadn’t read the text I sent her.

She didn’t know I’d had the exact same experience myself, until after she’d stood from the table and finished talking with my dad about this sense of them she couldn’t shake away.  At that point, checking her phone, she saw the text I’d sent, explaining to her what happened, and she nearly dropped to the floor.

What does all of this mean?

I have no idea.

But it makes me wonder if maybe I was wrong about what I’d believed, before. It makes me wonder if some part of who we are remains in tact, always, from one life to the next. If maybe some essence of us holds on to what we knew and loved in this life, as we move into a new way of being, somewhere else.

I know this blog is already ridiculously long, but oh well. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and that some of your own experiences allow you to identify with what I’m saying.

The holiday we celebrate today—Halloween (aka “All Hallow’s Eve”) was once known as “Samhain” by those first responsible for its observance. This time of the year was believed to be a time when the spirits of recently passed loved ones return to their families for one last visit, before going away.  The reason we now pass out candy, comes from the original celebration in which families would take all of the food from the year’s harvest and spread it out through their kitchens, so that when these loved ones came to visit, they’d see everyone was still okay.

This recent experience of mine, however inexplicable it was, reminds me of the value of these thoughts and traditions we share.

Tonight, let’s remember those we love. Let’s embrace the spirit of their lives, and reflect on the ways we still feel them, still sense them, still live with them as our own lives continue on.

Today, I wish you many happy hauntings, my friends. God bless you and those you love.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Deer Park UMC in: General |
Oct
13
2013
0

Yes, God Still Speaks: A New Testament–aka ‘Some Stuff That Happened’

God still speaks. All of the time. To each of us, in amazingly unexpected and beautiful ways.

Last week, we asked the question, “Does God still speak?” and thought about the ways we still experience God in ways just as miraculous as those mentioned in “The Book” (aka The Bible), only we don’t document these moments anymore in scripture, as the biblical canon was unfortunately and untimely closed off to new stories, a long time ago, in an ancient galaxy far, far away.  ;)

God lives and moves in our own personal lives each day, and we talked about the benefits that come with the spiritual practice of writing this stuff down. If no one else will put it into a sacred text, where these moments belong, it’s up to us to record and document when these things happen in our own lives, so we can remember, and maybe flip back to those times in moments of questioning or struggle, and recall in comfort that God lives with us every hour, and is more deeply involved in our experiences than we can ever imagine.

So I thought I’d do this myself, here, just to give you guys an example. I hope you gain some benefit from reading this, and can apply it to your own moments of spiritual connection.

I’d mentioned in our last blog that God had worked and moved a whole lot in my life over the past month and a half, but didn’t mention how.  Here’s what happened (some of it, anyway).  Bare bones. And we can look into these things more, after I type those moments into this box.

Some brief back story: I’d been experiencing some frustration, recently, over where my life was going. Nothing new. Happens to us all at different times. I was called into the ministry when I was very young and have lived into that call since; but I was plagued by doubts, not too long ago, as to whether or not this was still the right path. I knew I’d been called, and answered that call the best I could; but I just wasn’t sure if where I was heading was still where God wanted me to go.

Overwhelmed with the question, I got down on my knees, in my study. Face-planted to the floor, arms spread long in front of my prostrated body.  Laying it all out on the line. And I talked to God. Deeply. Personally. Sometimes I didn’t even think a word, knowing God knew what was in my mind, already.  But through all, the conversation I had with God started with me asking God (Life) to show me where to go from here.  I asked God to talk to me, and to talk LOUD, so I could hear past all of the clutter in my mind.

Blinking away the darkness of my eyelids, I finally stood from that rug, my early-thirties bones cracking from bending so low. The blood hadn’t even flushed from my face back down to my legs, before my phone rang on the desk. My mind still in that limbo state between prayer and the day-to-day, I staggered over to answer the call.

It was one of my parishioners. One I hadn’t heard from in long, long time. One I’d thought I’d lost from the congregation awhile ago.  One whose recent absence on Sunday mornings had contributed to my sense that maybe I needed to journey on a different way. In that moment, just after I’d asked God to talk loud, his/her voice rang through my ear, telling me how excited he/she was about the ministry I was doing at the church, and about how confident he/she was that beautiful things would come from my working as a minister in the parish. In that conversation, all of the insecurities and doubts which had so heavily plagued my mind—each of the things I’d mentioned to God, only minutes before—were addressed. Spoken to. Eased. In audible words I could hear, and not confuse.

This was the first moment God spoke to me, in response to what I’d just said while my face buried in the floor.  And it was loud, alright. Instantaneous, even. Beautiful, and breathtaking.  I thought this was the end of the conversation, but I was wrong.

Only three days later:

I received another call.  Very similar. Another congregant who I’d never before spoken with on the phone, called me in the middle of the day. Once again reaffirming and repeating what had been said in the last conversation. Once again—as if they’d been eavesdropping on my silent prayer—addressing each of my fears and doubts, like a subtle reminder from God, in case the effect of the first moment had worn off and faded away.

Seven days later, that following Sunday:

Our general church attendance had been another factor causing me worry about the effectiveness of staying this course in God’s ministry.  Dropping numbers, across the board—in every church—had caused me to wonder if there was a different way I could be in ministry. A different way to answer God’s call that might be more effective.

The Sunday after I got down on my knees, our sanctuary *flooded* with people. Now, this is unusual, folks. Our “Little Green Church on the Hill” is a small one—our congregation intimate.  But we had more inside our church walls that day than we had bulletins to hand out. Overwhelmed by the sight of all of these faces,  I stood up to lead the congregation in prayer; and when I looked down at the pulpit, “randomly” splayed beside the prayer I’d written, were the words,  “Don’t worry, He understands all of your frustrations.” I saw those words laid out right there, for me to see, at the pulpit where I’ve worked all of this time, and tears filled my eyes before I snapped myself back into focus to lead the group in prayer.

At this point, I could barely believe God was still talking to me—and at such mind-blowing volume. I’d thought Life had made Its point pretty clearly, but this still wasn’t the end. God was still speaking to me, even louder than I’d asked.

And I can’t for sure say why, but I think God understood better than I could myself, that even through all of this, my confusion was still with me. Because we’re stubborn people, right?

Even after all of this, about half a week later (I suppose, again, about three days—interesting),  I laid it all out on the table in front of me in the family room, and I stood up, prepared to tell my husband I’d made a final decision. After this appointment, I was going to move on from parish work, into something else. It hurts to even type the words, now… but those were the words that filled me up in that moment, in front of the coffee table; and I’ll admit them.  Ky walked into the kitchen, and I followed him. I breathed deep, and started the sentence. “I’ve made my decision,” I said to him, my voice almost pompous–belligerent—with my confidence in the choice.  “I’m moving on from—-”

Before I could speak another word, the entire room fell pitch black. I kid you not. Every light in the house went away. Every sound disappeared. In that millisecond of shock, I waited for the lights to flicker back on so I could finish the thought. Nothing. Pitch black. I couldn’t even see Ky’s face in front of mine, less than a foot away.  This was a moment of biblical proportions, in my book. I could barely believe it… but just because I couldn’t believe it, didn’t mean it wasn’t the truth, all the same.  In that moment, God stopped me. God interrupted our conversation, like someone jumping in to save a close friend from accidentally playing the fool.

The lights didn’t come back on. Not for the rest of the night. We had no candles in the house (all of ours being burned down to the wick), and the only place we could find light was from inside of the church. There was a big box of candles in the fellowship hall, so with our flashlights, we walked through the dark into the church walls to find the light we needed, then returned home, to the parsonage. All night, our sight and footsteps illuminated only with the light used for Holy Service.

And friends, there was more. So much more. God kept talking with me, still in higher volume than I’d ever asked, through the rest of that month. Each time, the words coming louder, and louder, and louder again.  I haven’t even yet come to the best parts; but this blog box is filling up fast.

I could write a book on what happened. Maybe one that, back in the day, would’ve made it into the canon. But I wanted to share at least those few moments with you, so you can gather a feel for what I’m saying when I mention that God still speaks.

We just don’t write this stuff down anymore, and we unfortunately can’t add them to our scriptures.

These were moments of miracle. Of course, we perceive and communicate things differently, now. If I’d been a biblical author of antiquity, when I first received that phone call after standing up from that prayer,  I might have written:

I fell to my knees, beseeching the Lord, and behold, God’s voice rang from the heavens, saying, “I am the LORD your God. The father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have heard your prayers and will answer them with mighty deeds. You have been charged to proclaim the name of the Lord from this day forth, and I command that you live each of the days I have given you, speaking of the truth and love which I have shown you.” (Miracles 1:1-4)

But ya see, we just don’t talk like that anymore. Instead, I say, “I  got down on my knees and talked to God. Then my iPhone rang on my desk, and I heard exactly the words I’d told God I needed to hear, in order to keep going.”

God works in the world today, still, in biblical proportions. Miracle after miracle, God lives and breathes in our lives in moments that stun us to silence and move our hearts in unimaginable ways.

God still speaks. The question is, do we still listen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oct
03
2013
0

Does God Still Speak?

So many times I hear people say, “If God is real, then why don’t things still happen like they did in the bible? Why don’t we hear God speak to us like those people on those pages?”

I’d have to respond in saying that the only reason we don’t have documentation of events like we find in the bible is due to the fact that people have simply stopped writing this stuff down! At least in the form of formalized scripture. The biblical canon was closed off long ago by a group of people trying to sort things out the best they could. This closing of scripture began with Irenaeus (b. circa 115CE) who wanted to filter out the thousands of Christianities in existence after Jesus lived, and it ended with Constantine around the year 300, in the Roman Empire’s effort to consolidate a belief that was so wide in scope, it was difficult to say, “this person is a Christian,” and have an understanding of what that really meant.

To me, it was a slightly limited view which caused us to stop adding on to scripture, because God still lives, still moves, still speaks.  And not just in some cases, but many, many, many.

In my own lifetime (this short 32 years so far), I’ve seen God, I’ve heard God, and I’ve watched God move in my life in miraculous ways worthy of the written word! And so have a lot of others. God isn’t dead, but our ability to add examples and stories of what God has done and is doing, in any kind of authoritative way, has been limited if not entirely taken away from us.

These days, we close our minds off with just as much finality as scripture, believing it to be impossible to connect so deeply with the Spirit of Life within us and around us.  But all we have to do is listen, and we will hear. All we have to do is watch, and we will see.

(“Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7)

One of my favorite spiritual writers and one of the most renowned mystics of all time, Rumi, once said:

“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.”

When you open yourself to the Life inside of you, that Life will work around you in incredible ways, many of them just as miraculous as the stories we read of in the bible.

I have a few stories from just this past month that blew me away to the point where my jaw literally dropped in those moments God acted in the world around me, right in front of my eyes.  Moments when I was stunned to silence, and bleary staring. There have been minutes over the past month when God has spoken silently, but clearly, in ways far louder than any word I’ve ever heard spoken from a mouth equipped with lips and teeth.

Keep your mind and your heart open, and it will be filled with things unbelievable, but true, nonetheless.

As a moment of spiritual centering, I’d like to invite you to think back on the times you’ve witnessed God move and heard God speak in your own life, and maybe take some time to write those moments down.  Just as with scripture, it’s good to be able to go back to those moments, to remember, in times of strain.

If you haven’t yet heard, then let yourself listen, and what will fill the life of your soul will be worth remembering.

 

In God’s Love,

Rev. Laura H.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quote from one of my favorite voices in spirit, and one of the most revered mystics of all time:

 

“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.”

Written by Deer Park UMC in: General |
Sep
23
2013
0

A Glimpse Into a Conversation

Some controversy and very interesting conversation sprung around a post I put up the other day, regarding Josephus’ writings, documenting Jesus’ life outside of scripture.  I want to share just a bit of that conversation with you today, for the sake of your own spiritual growth and wanderings.

If you’re interested in historical authenticity of scripture, please read on…

Original Post:

Some say there is no mention of Jesus’ life outside of scripture. Flavius Josephus, a prominent and well-known Jewish historian of antiquity writes in book 18 of The Antiquities of the Jews (a non-scriptural historical document):

“At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, did not die out” (Meier 1991, 61). [From, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings/Bart D. Ehrman]

From [Name Omitted for Privacy]:

In the interest of balance, it should be noted that many scholars refute the authenticity of the Antiquities, pointing to potential interpolation and even forgery en masse.

From Rev_Laura_3712:

There are so many wonderfully investigative thoughts, here.

It is absolutely the case that there exists a lot of controversy over Josephus’ writings. Ancient writings in general tend to send a zap of energy and excitement to the brains of many thinkers and scholars. Questions of authenticity, applicability, objectivity, manipulation—so many—come to the table in amazingly colorful ways.

Just to respond to [Name Omitted for Privacy] for a moment: yes, there have been major issues with scribal interpolation regarding Josephus’ texts. The piece I put up was one modern biblical scholars have decided might have been closest to the original before scribal interpolation spoiled the true meat. The actual excerpt says a lot about Jesus specifically being the Messiah, and not a “man.” There’s some Christian lingo strewn here and there, that make present day scholars suspicious that those words did not come from Josephus, himself. The excerpt listed at the beginning of this thread is believed by those scholars to be the original material before manipulation.

But, at the end of the day, none of us can know. When you reach back thousands of years, we’re looking into a time and people so distant from ourselves, it’s very difficult, if not impossible to accurately/clearly understand what transpired between whom, when. All we have is stories passed from moment to moment, person to person, in various ways at various times, none–ever—no matter the historian involved, trustworthy as being free of subjective interpretation, ulterior motive, particular bias, etc.

For me, it’s pretty clear Jesus existed. The man left one of the largest footprints a human life has ever pressed into the dirt of the earth. From the stories which sprung around his life, knowing which events were actual, which legend, which exaggerated, which left out, which absolutely true, is unfortunately beyond our grasp.

But to bring our thread back into someplace more healing, more spiritual, I’ll just mention that what many do experience in a very real way, each day—themselves, in the present moment—is a sense of the life inside them and around them, and a sense that that Life, is something big. Something breathtaking. And Something that reaches far past ourselves and each thing we can see. This Something is what we call “God,” and many people have found the truth of their own experiences of God in the words of the gospels, and in the teachings of Jesus(Yeshua bar Joseph).

And to me, that is the greatest truth we can ever aspire toward even coming a distance away from understanding.

Follow the truth that guides you, and don’t be afraid of where it takes you, because we are always in the Life and soul of God.

Some good thoughts to reflect on:

Psalm 139:1-18

“If you look for truth, you might find comfort, in the end; if you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap or wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.” –C.S. Lewis

In God’s Love and Peace,
Rev. Laura Hehner
(Deer Park UMC, Bailey)

https://www.facebook.com/dpumc

Written by Deer Park UMC in: General |
Aug
28
2013
0

The Importance of Gathering for God

Let’s face it, we live in an age of isolation.

These days, even when we’re surrounded by people, our heads bend into our palms as we so often prefer typing to distant others, over speaking to the faces in front of our own. Retail outlets are closing down, due to the  ease of buying and receiving at home, verses the strain of sitting in traffic and standing in line behind others in the middle of town.    We don’t even need to sit around a table anymore to play a game of cards or scrabble—the apps are right there in the left column of our facebook homepage! Self checkout lanes.  Online video rentals.  And if you get hungry, King Soopers delivers!

And, friends, we’re even communicating in isolation right now—myself, alone, typing and you, alone, reading.

These trends don’t stop with the ordinary, but mix just as thoroughly with our experience of the extraordinary—with our experience of God—as people lean more and more toward personal spirituality, and away from church membership.

Just recently, I wrote about the benefits of this personal spirituality, and the fact of God being everywhere, leaving anywhere as not only a suitable, but holy place of worship. And my heart still holds true to that fact; but, today, I’d like to touch into the reasons why being personally spiritual during the week, and together in spirit on Sunday, are equally as good for our lives, and our relationship with Life, as a whole. In fact, I do believe that these two things, together, are not only equally good, but equally necessary for the health of our spirit in relationship with the greater soul of God.

A few Sundays ago, we all gathered together outside for our service. The wind blew our readings around, we sang sort of clumsily to songs of praise on a boombox, some were asked to come up and receive recognition for their work, embarrassed to be dragged into the spotlight.  There were definitely some awkward moments for us all as we fumbled around out there, and it didn’t go all that smoothly; but it went well, because we went to that place together. And that fact, alone, is what makes Sunday worship what it is. That’s what makes the time holy.

As a semi-reclusive, slightly dorky writer and reader, I definitely understand the inner-strain of being around people in large groups, and the relief felt when once again alone; but being a pastor and a friend to God, I also understand the overwhelming importance of all of us coming together in one place to stand side-by-side in a moment set apart. Even when those moments don’t flow as smoothly as we hoped. Even when we feel stiff and strange rising to shake hands during greeting time. Even when we feel we surely played a fool in each one of the conversations we shared over food and coffee, afterward.  And I can understand this, not just because it’s my job, but because of the very real and beautiful need that exists inside each one of us to connect with the greater Life around us, and give ourselves up to God, together, to celebrate the holiness which gives breath to our daily lives while we live every other moment off on our own.

It’s a time of commemoration, celebration, recognition. A time of lifting our voices loud with the voices of others to sing in joy for the life we’re blessed to live, and the for the Life that brought us here. I don’t mean to trivialize , but we come together for moments of worship for the same reasons we feel driven to invite people over for a birthday. We might love that person turning 9, or 17, or 49,  and we might be in extraordinarily deep relationship with that person every other day, on our own; but when it comes time to commemorate, recognize, and celebrate that life, we add into this personal relationship by gathering together with others to share in the joy of our experience of that person. And we do the same for God each Sunday.

Gathering sometimes awkwardly with the people around us for this reason not only lifts up our love for God in larger, clearer, longer recognition than we can normally give, but it also keeps us connected with the life around us, and sustains inside of us the knowledge that though we live in isolation in so many other ways, we are never alone—not in our personal lives, and not in that inkling we feel in our soul telling us there’s something more to this life, past our experience of the typical.  When we unite in body, we unite in mind, strengthening the personal urges we feel privately in our soul into something larger, something shared, something moving while alone, and powerful in plurality.

Anyway… I hope that makes some sense. I’m glad we got to talk about in here; but I think I’m going to lift my eyes up from this box, and head outside. There are people waiting for me, past my door.

God bless you, take care, and celebrate the life inside of you with the One who gave it, with all of your heart, all of your strength, all of your soul, and all of your mind, in all ways you can; because that holy Source Of All Things that gifts us with this vital breath we pull into our lungs and let out through our lips is something to commemorate. Something to recognize. Something to celebrate. Something worthy of the worship of our souls.

 

Written by Deer Park UMC in: General |
Aug
23
2013
0

The Ten Commandments of Christian Confession #9

Her eyes dropped sheepishly to the table. After a few drinks, she loosened up a little and started talking about things I’d never heard her mention in the seven years we’d known each other.

“So… what do you believe?” She asked, her words quiet. Timid.

“What do you mean?” I didn’t know what else to say.

“Well… you know… with all of this stuff. All of the God, Jesus, heaven stuff he was just slamming,” she continued awkwardly, referring to the negative comments we’d both just heard Bill Maher rant on about for the past half hour.

Nothing. My brain went blank like a freshly swiped dry erase board!

She was digging. Opening herself up to me. Reaching out.  And I had nothing.

“I know you’re a Christian,” she continued through the silence, “and you go to church all the time. …But you don’t talk about it a lot—which I appreciate.” She cleared her throat. “I grew up Catholic, but my parents never really cared too much, and we only went to mass for Christmas. Sometimes Easter. Since you go, I was just wondering how you feel about it all.”

Anything. ANYTHING is better than nothing!

I spilled the first words that filled my mind.

“I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior ten years ago, and I’ve never looked back.” The words squeezed out fast. Strained. “Because of him I’m saved from my sins, and know I’ll one day be with my family in heaven, free from Satan and all of the evil of this world.”

What… the HELL…was THAT?

Everything I’d just said sounded like rote lines from a bad interview on TBN!

I looked desperately into her eyes. She didn’t say a word. The soft lines of her face straightened. She shifted in her seat. “Ok,” she muttered quickly, seeming embarrassed to have mentioned a word.

We both turned our faces tensely back to the television, and I flipped the channel to move our minds someplace else.

 

The Ten Commandments of Christian Confession

#9

Thou Shouldst Not Resort to Using Christian Mottoes and Taglines When Sharing Thy Faith

 

These questions so often catch us off guard. We don’t expect people to bring up God, or Jesus, or thoughts about life-after-death, or questions about the nature of eternity while sitting on the living room couch. But it happens. And when we’re caught off guard, we’re left to answer spontaneously with some of the deepest thoughts and feelings we hold in our souls. We become overwhelmed by this feeling that we need to say things just right—to proselytize. To avoid looking like a fool. So too often we flash to the easiest phrases—the most popularly accepted words—to save us from the awkward task of having to think about our beliefs and express what’s truly in our hearts, on our own.

But in doing this, we appear thoughtless. Duped. Shammed into mindless following. And the moment someone perceives this about our faith, all hope of opening ourselves and others to the very real feelings and thoughts we have inside, is lost. People shut down. Tune you out. Why? Because they’ve heard it a million times before.

When asked about your faith, take time to give your own answers. If you don’t have them yet, let yourself acknowledge this in your mind, and with the person  in front of you. This will create a true dialogue—someplace now safe in the fact that you’ve each shared your vulnerabilities openly with the other—and in that space you make a path toward understanding and identification for the both of you.

Be good with each other. Enjoy each other. Don’t let yourself be afraid to speak about God from your soul… even if it doesn’t sound as fancy as the Apostle’s Creed. I promise it will sound better. Truer. Real. Because it’s from your heart.

In all of your talks I pray for you to feel the courage and strength of God fill you, and that you feel safe to open your soul and share God’s love with others as simply and naturally as it’s been given.

Written by Deer Park UMC in: General |
Aug
19
2013
0

The Christian&the Atheist: The Funny Thing About Fundamentalists

Ronelle Adams said:

“If your fundamentalists are faith healers, snake handlers, child abusers, sexist, racist, and anti-gay bigots, then there’s something wrong with your fundamentals.”

Nice job, Ronelle. I can understand entirely where you’re coming from. That is a bit creepy, the way fundamentalists portray themselves so often as ragingly dangerous, closed-minded, single-sighted/sided figures in the world. And I really think we should change the name we give those who exist on the extremes of the far right of the Christian religion; because one thing Ronelle said was a little off. The funny thing about fundamentalists is they are about as far from teaching/living the fundamentals of Christ as you can possibly be, while still standing in the shelter of the umbrella term, “Christian.” Bigotry, sexism, racism, and child abuse–not even in the slightest sense or contortion—reflect the foundational teachings Jesus shared while alive in the world. Jesus, in fact, taught the exact opposite to those who walked with him all of those years ago, and stood strong with the same passion for social justice as Christianity’s harshest modern critics.

Throughout the gospels (just open a page to any of the four) and Jesus’ teachings are about lifting up inclusivity, embracing the outcast, prizing the importance and sanctity of the lives of children (begging us all to be so beautifully and simply situated in the world), and working endlessly–to death, in fact—for cross cultural/cross-ethnic/cross-gender social respect and equality. Jesus was the ultimate critic of religion, himself, and would have readily taken sides with Ronelle Adams in his statement, along with Bill Maher, George Carlin, Trent Reznor, and all of those other voices we hear so loudly criticize the habits and ways of religion. Again, just open any of the gospels, and Jesus yells just as fervently about these very same things.

So why is it that Christianity, the religion against religion, gets all of the flack?

How do we rightly live up to the fundamentals of Christ, while people wrongly labeled as “fundamentalists” run rampant through the world, spreading hate, greed, corruption, and exclusion throughout a population of people yearning to break away from the barriers of the past and breathe free?

To me, the world is searching—yearning—for what Christianity used to be, while running—fleeing—from what Christianity has become.

As individual Christians and as spiritual seekers together, what do we do about this? Something to examine and think about as we move along each day in the world.

 

Written by Deer Park UMC in: General |
Aug
03
2013
0

The Ten Commandments of Christian Confession (#10)

There was a bad accident on the road, just ahead. Ambulances and police on the scene, all cars shuffled one-by-one to a single lane to avoid the work and wreckage. As goes the usual etiquette, each of us allowed a single car into the right as traffic inched forward.  On this particular morning, my husband and I sat as passengers, a close friend behind the wheel.  Both of us jerked so hard our seat belts constricted as his palm slammed into the horn and every profanity listed in the Urban Dictionary tumbled from his swelling throat.

“HEY! ONE AT A TIME! What the H**’s WRONG WITH YOU??” He barked at the driver of the second car as she cut her way, out of turn, into the space he opened for the other.  “HA!” His expression fell flat. “Of course.…” Disgusted, our friend flung his hand toward the sticker stuck to the woman’s bumper.

Warning:In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned!

“We’d be better off!” He shouted, then looked only slightly apologetically in my direction. “See, Laura? This is why I don’t go to church.  Full of hypocritical #%^&*’s,” my friend grumbled. “…No offense.”

None taken, but lesson learned.

As Christians, we identify ourselves and work to share our faith in a lot of strange ways—some a little less effective than others. Passion is essential to letting our beliefs live and breathe, but too often that passion is expressed in suffocating ways which only bring an outcome opposite from what we hope to achieve as we confess our convictions with others. So many times, what we consider evangelism actually acts to turn people off from the spiritual beliefs we hold so dear.

Over the coming weeks, this blog will cover the top ten things to avoid while sharing our soul (today’s listed, below):

The Ten Commandments of Christian Confession

10

Thou Shouldst Not Place Faith-based Bumper Stickers on Thy Car ;)

The highway is a bad place to evangelize. None of us are perfect drivers, and road rage runs rampant not only in others, but ourselves. Even if you’re a saint behind the wheel, never lifting a finger, refusing to surpass the speed limit, and religiously slowing on the yellow, there will always be reason for other drivers to become angry over what you’re doing (or not doing). Even going slow can be viewed as offensive to some; and anytime another driver becomes angry with you, or you become angry with them, your sticker (as well-intended as it may be) will work more often to substantiate people’s feelings of dejection toward the Christian faith and Christians as a whole.

 

Let your faith live; let it breathe; share yourself with care and consideration, always; and remember that evangelism is a conversation, not a one-way act of conversion.  As we let our love for God show, we should be sure to let our love for others be just as apparent by being both respectful and understanding of where we each stand as we talk and open our hearts to one another.


 



Theme: TheBuckmaker.com Wordpress Theme |     login