3 x S = 42

Have you ever wanted “The Answer”?Cosmic Twist

“What answer?” you reply.

THE Answer. You know… THE ANSWER. Like the Answer to The Question. The Great Question. The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything!

For those of us who are Douglas Adams fans, we know how he dealt with the Question and the Answer… thus:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well, this has never entirely satisfied me, though I applaud Adams’ willingness to take on the subject. Libraries for centuries untold have been filled with the efforts of sages to solve the Mystery of Life. And, while my conclusions may well differ from Sage Adams here, I must say that a lot of my cogitation shares some strong commonalities.

So, here and now, I’d like to submit my own, subjective, non-scientific, anecdotal, take-it-or-leave-it-as-you-please, contribution to…

The Answer… to Life, the Universe, and Everything…

It is… 3 x S (Read as: “Three times S”)

[Consistent with the style of Adams, we will first describe the Answer, and then consider… What is the Question?]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

S1 = “Superabundance”

The First “S” is “superabundance”, the provision for needs vastly beyond the degree of need. Quantity, quality, diversity… so overwhelming that the result is not merely satiation and satisfaction, but actual delight. Take the Garden of Eden, for example… all the foods available there, all the grains, grasses, fruits, vegetables. The delight and companionship of animals of every description. The mist of the morning, the clarity of the stars, the cool of the evening, the wonder of the sun and moon. Or Psalm 23, being led beside the still waters, sitting at a prepared table, being comforted.

This is to be free of need, and free of greed.

Could it be that the very first requirement of true “Happiness”… of “Wholeness”… is to be free of need?

S2 = “Safety”

The Second “S” is “safety”, the protection from or absence of anything that could threaten or cause harm. Was there anything unknown in Eden to be afraid of at the start? It has never ceased to amaze me that God set man to nurture and tend the Garden (often super-interpreted to mean “God sent man off to WORK, first of all!”… but… what was the “work”? He was assigned to do two things… tend/serve/nurture… and protect/hedge about. But, what did Adam need to DO? Mist rose in the morning to water all, the soil was rich with the vibrancy of pure primal life, there were as yet no “weeds” or “bad plants”, nor any pests or predator bugs or animals. A Garden initially arranged and landscaped by God wouldn’t require a lot of transplanting and corrective design. All that “sweat of brow” and “thorns and thistles” thing came AFTER the fall.

This is to be free of threat, and free of fear.

Could it be that the second requirement of true “Happiness”… of “Wholeness”… is to be utterly safe and free of fear?

S3 = “Significance”

The third “S” is “significance”, the sense that one is meaningful, important, and treasured to at least one other person. In the Garden, there was first… Adam. Adam and God, there they were. Made in God’s image, male and female, Adam and Eve created in God’s own image. Given free reign of the Garden. Able to eat of all but one tree. Naming each animal as presented by God. Called forth to walk with Him in the cool of the evening. Important to God, you think? Significant? Treasured? Or as in Psalm 23, sitting down at a table prepared for man by the Lord in the presence of enemies? Head anointed with oil? Cup running over? To dwell in God’s house forever?

This is to be acknowledged, important, treasured. This is to be free of the all too common fear that we and our lives are meaningless, that we are but cattle in a herd, a nameless cipher among a crowd of equally insignificant parts.

Could it be that the third requirement of true “Happiness”… of “Wholeness”… is to be utterly significant and treasured?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As I pondered these potential “Answers”, and began to focus on the “Question”, I realized that this is a bigger answer than I can even define. This seems to hold true on every scale, in every application. Countries, races, kingdoms, empires go to war over a lack in one or another of these. Wars and genocides happen when a people gathers strength in order to meet what they consider a “need”, or a “threat”, or the hunger for “prestige”. States go to civil war for what seem to be the same reasons. Families feud, political parties wrangle, and individuals fight, maneuver, argue over these same perceived places of emptiness.

What to do? How do we promote joy, happiness, peace… “Wholeness” and Love?

Each of us have our own piece of Kingdom, our own relationships, our own sphere of influence. Whether this is community, home, workplace, church, or even one relationship at a time…

We know we are to “Love”, but that often breaks down at the “How do we do that?”

What if we try these three…

That every encounter be nurturing, meeting what need stands before us in the moment? Often the need is just some time and attention. Perhaps it is a meal, or a cool drink of water, or a gentle touch, or hug. (Obvious professional cautions apply, depending on the nature of the relationship.) Sometimes, the need is just silent presence.

That every encounter be safe, free of fear? Not just fear of physical harm or danger, but fear of being made to feel bad. Fear of being judged. Fear of being shamed or made to feel small or wrong. What if in each moment, someone felt their burdens lightened in your presence, rather than made heavier?

That every encounter be important and significant? That in the moments of interaction, the other person, group, party, were treasured as relationship to you? As if they were treasured by God Almighty? What if no one were an “interruption” or an “annoyance” or a “burden”, but rather they were a blessing to you as you are meant to be to them?

What’s the question, then?

What if the question is, “How has God always intended us to relate to one another?” What does it take to live a blessed joyful life? The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything…

And, how do we bring this about in our homes, our days, and our churches?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

3 x S = 42?

Maybe so. I just ponder these things now and again…

Grace to you, Gentle Reader! Bless! — The Little Monk

Free Christmas Gifts for You

branch-and-bird

I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. (John 15:5, The Message)

In the U.S., the Thanksgiving holiday is over. Yet my thankfulness exceeds a five-day weekend feast.

I am incredibly thankful for the peace-filled place I am in, joined with Christ who led me into my Father’s embrace. God’s arms are full of unconditional love, extravagant compassion and outrageous grace and mercy.

My mission as a follower of Jesus is

to bring others back to Him. It is central to our good news that God was in Christ making things right between Himself and the world. This means He does not hold their sins against them. But it also means He charges us to proclaim the message that heals and restores our broken relationships with God and each other. (2 Corinthians 5:19:20)

I subscribe to this mission and to Christ’s directive, from our Father, to love each other, love our neighbors, and yes, love our enemies. I believe this is the only effective and provable way to lead people to our faithful and loving God.

It is one way as a branch of Christ I live out my faith. It is one way I can reach out and offer my gifts, received through God’s Spirit, to you.

After an 8-year journey of writing, editing and re-writing, today I offer to you free, my Branches Devotional Workbooks.

All five. All free. All year.

As a favor, would you please reblog so this gift reaches as many brothers and sisters as possible?

Thank you.

To receive one or all, and read more detail about these devotionals, visit Branches Devotionals.

Voting

Theology2I live in the U.S. in the State of California and I voted this morning.

Did my Christian world view influence the way I voted? Sure. How could it not. I’m also a 65-year-old woman. That also influenced the way I voted. So did the sum total of my life experience.

So now I await the results, along with the residents of this state, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota. The final primary is next week when the District of Columbia votes.

 

Of course, these are only the primaries. The general election date is November 8th.

And every presidential election year I pray. I began praying back in April last year.

“This prayer is also for all the believers who will follow [these disciples] and hear them speak. Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me.

“All the glory You have given to Me, I pass on to them. May that glory unify them and make them one as We are one,  I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)

Why do we allow The Enemy to throw us into disunion over anger or litmus tests?

How many give The Enemy a foothold by ranting on Facebook, “liking” or retweeting a negative comment, telling or passing along a sarcastic political joke, or refusing or forgetting to pray for those in office?

How many choose to protest with fists and angry words? Applaud the arrogant and proud rather than humble and courteous? How many prefer those who can shout the loudest rather than those who listen and work for peace and unity? (Matthew 5:3-9)

How many, if the person you vote for is not elected, are already determined to pass along your anger to others, to become bitter and cynical, to refuse any attempt at peacemaking or unity?

“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (Matthew 5:21-22 The Message)

Why is unity so difficult for those of us who call ourselves Christians? Why do we make life difficult for each other, disown each other and tell each other we’re going to hell if we disagree doctrinallyTheology3 with each other? Do you know how many different theological doctrines exist? The images shown are from the table of contents from only one book* – 323 pages of seventeen different doctrines and 2-4 different sides of each of those doctrines. Doctrine is merely man-made and though it may be based on Scripture, it is still widely interpreted.

Jesus did not pray for us to be one with doctrine. He prayed for us to be one with Him and with the Father.

The Holy Spirit is in us in order to accomplish this oneness. If we ignore the Spirit of God and instead worship doctrine or agendas or a person running for office, aren’t we guilty of idolatry? Haven’t we walked away from our First Love? If we have, we must turn back, and remember what the Gospel is truly about. (Revelation 2:4-5)

Dear Lord,

May You hear again this faithful refrain of the words Jesus prayed: may we be as one as You and Your Son and the Spirit are as one; may we all be as one in You as You are in us. In that oneness, may be treat each other with love, grace and dignity, and in that unity show the world who You are in us.

May we remember this today and every day throughout the rest of this year. May we pray for all our leaders, whoever they are, that they would seek to lead justly and compassionately, and that they would seek to be peacemakers and unifiers. Amen

 

*Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology by Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, © 2009, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI

Love is…

©susanirenefox
©susanirenefox

The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (I Timothy 1:5)

Love is patient and kind.

Love understands we all learn in different ways and at different rates. We all have different levels of education. And while we may have a strong desire to learn and understand Scripture, we cannot all understand the King James Version, or the New American Standard Version or the English Standard Version. As beginners, some of us may need to cut our teeth on The Message or The Voice or the Easy to Read Version first. Please be kind and compassionate while we learn and grow in our faith. These versions are not heretical; they simply provide added explanation while we are in transition from milk to meat.

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

We all fall short of the glory of God. Please don’t hold yourself higher than we are because you’ve had more education. The Pharisee had more education than the tax collector, yet the tax collector humbled himself before God (Luke 18:9-14). Please allow us to develop our own, unique relationship with our Lord.

Love is not self-absorbed, nor does it demand its own way.

Please don’t demand that I worship as you do, pray as you do, or subscribe to your religious laws or doctrine. Please don’t tell me I’m not a Christian if… Please do as He asks and teach me to be His disciple, not yours.

“We have made ourselves content not with seeking the face of God, but with studying the facts of God. We are satisfied with a religion about Christ, without the reality of Christ… There is a place that transcends the boundaries of knowledge and dogma; it is a simple yet eternally profound place where we actually abide in Christ’s love.” Br. Francis Frangipane

Love is not irritable or easily provoked.

Luke recorded Jesus saying, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) If you have fully surrendered yourself to Jesus, then you have accepted His love and grace. Once you have accepted His gift, there is nothing left to irritate, annoy or provoke you. You have an unquenchable desire to give away the love and grace that overflows from Him.

Love keeps no record of being wronged, tallies up no offenses nor keeps score of the sins of others.

In relationship, do you think the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit choose to be offended by each other? Keep score against each other? Decide one was more healing than the other? One saved more souls than the other? When we point out each others’ faults and keep track of wrongs done, over the years we become bitter and resentful. Bitterness and resentment is grist for the enemy; they can easily be turned to hate, and hate locks out love.

Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out.

Love and truth build bridges; hate and fear build walls. Bridges help form relationships; walls prevent relationships. Relationships advance understanding and create true justice. The absence of relationships advances terror and exclusion for everyone. Which would you rather build?

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

When decisions are made from soil of love, faith and hope are harvested. Circumstances are seen from a different point of view. Individual lives are given value instead of being seen as a commodity. Differences become less important than finding connections and common ground which lead to peace.

Love never fails.

God is love. When we allow His love to shine through us, in God’s timing others will desire His unconditional love. They will thirst for His radical grace. They will hunger for His tender mercy. But love must come first.

May [you] have power to comprehend… how wide, how long, how high, and how deep God’s love is, and therefore to know the love of Christ even though it is too great to understand fully, so that your heart may be completely filled up and flooded with God. (Ephesians 3:18-19)

How Big is Your Elephant?

This is posted because Paulfg made me think of it this morning, even though it was originally posted in The Postmodern Mystic on New Year’s Eve… 2012! Lol. Enjoy, Paul… and all others!

ELEPHANT AND THE BLIND MEN

Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the village today.”
They had no idea what an elephant was. They said, “What’s an elephant?” and decided, “Even though we will not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Every one of them touched the elephant.
“Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.
“Oh, no! it is a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.
“Oh, no! it is a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
“It is a big hand fan” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
“It is a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
“It is a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
They began to argue about the elephant and everyone of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated.
A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree on what an elephant is.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched only part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said, but is yet much more.”
“Oh!” everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.
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12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. [1 Corinthians 13]
My little perspective and experience of my Infinite Elephant is far too small and limited to argue with anyone else’s. How’s yours?
Grace to you, Gentle Reader.
Little Monk

Be our guest, Be our guest, be our guest!

“Believe and keep believing the original promise of Jesus that got you hooked to Him.”- From Our Daily Bible verse 101 . This site is also featured on my favorite and free app, Laudate (for apple) and Laudate for android. 

(P.S. there is no endorsement or payment I am receiving for this. I love sharing bits and pieces of what I find and love and makes me tick, especially when they are free).

Reading that quote really started my day off right! I mean, typically when I begin to do my reading for the day, I have to spark the thinking which is not always such a blast at 5 a.m. when coffee still has not taken my body over. But this really struck me, the author offering this answer for himself: “For me,  it is this:  “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”   (Matthew 6: 33  KJV).

I felt another invitation from God, a playful one. I have been down and out as the days wane before Monday when I have to go back to the life I have grown to hate. Some of us are not so blunt about things, but that’s o.k.  I am. So many of us feel this way but don’t talk about it or use poetic words that nobody may understand but us. I do that sometimes, but not this time. I am learning and growing and have really been able to move through my feelings and be honest. It is what has helped me move and thrive and be refined in the Holy Spirit’s fire. It helps me to recognize what’s wrong, seek God, pray and be myself. And over my shoulder, I see the Blessed Mother watching me, sometimes just smiling, shuffling me along like a little child.

So when this invitation came to recall the original promise of Jesus that got me “hooked,” I had to step back in my mind. But for me, it wasn’t what God promised to me, my journey didn’t start out that way. For me it was a promise I made to God the night I got down on my knees. I didn’t say it quite this way, but later found out it was part of a psalm. For me its: Psalm 116:16-18:

LORD, I am your servant,

your servant, the child of your maidservant;

you have loosed my bonds.

I will offer a sacrifice of praise

and call on the name of the LORD.

I will pay my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people,

So what was His original promise to me? He said yes to the vow I took. He said yes I will save you, and you will serve me for the rest of your life. He took me up on my offer. I can’t say that every “yes” to Him has been easy. But every “yes” has led me to the fulfillment, peace and the right path for my life that I have been so desperately searching for. I know I can’t mess up, as long as I say “yes.” And drawing me back to that moment was so powerful for me.

Sometimes we have to go back to move forward. Not go back there, but remember, to stimulate us. Sometimes we read rote prayer, or just “read” our bibles, or have the same routine day in and day out. Meditations, devotionals become boring and drab. We need the excitement, the spark the “I remember!” And this did it for me. I remembered, I smiled, I was there. I thought, what a great idea! This is what I have been missing, questions, lots of questions! I love questions! Another invitation to draw me in further.

So here’s the thing, I’m inviting you to do the same. Take a few moments and answer the question in the comment section or write your own post. It’s an invitation from Jesus!

“Believe and keep believing the original promise of Jesus that got you hooked to Him.”

Do you see the invitation? What is it? Go back there? Share with all of us in the comment section or on your own blogs. I can’t wait to hear from all of you!!!!!!!!!!!

-M

Theressomethingaboutmary