Thursday, December 17, 2009

How can I Pray and be Heard by God?

Would you like to Know the Truth (part 4)

How can we possibly not be? God is everywhere. God created all things. God is in all things. If God is in ‘all’ things, so then God is in, and within, us. Since God created ‘all’ things, s/he created atheists and people with other belief systems. Since God created all things, then God created other belief systems and other ways of coming ‘Home’ to the source energy that is in ‘all’ of us .. in other words, God.

So why is there separation? Separation begins with us, with our lack of belief, or faith (which are two different things). When we doubt we put a barrier between us and God. That barrier is our free will. Because we were granted it back at our creation, and because it was restored to us by Christ at the Crucifixion, (after we had so foolishly given it away to the ‘devil’ .. see the story of Adam and Eve as a metaphor for our choices ...) we have the power to stop God from helping us, to remove his/her ability to give to us what we most want – Love.

Sometimes our prayers are not answered, or seem not to be. There is a saying “be careful what you ask for, you might get it”. God in his/her infinite wisdom does not always give us what we want, because s/he knows that spiritually most of us are like small children demanding sweets. We try to bargain (if you do this, I will do that) and what we bargain for may well not be what is for our greatest good, and so we are not given what we seek. And God knows that we don’t always understand, at the time, why this is so, nor do we all understand about free will, but s/he doesn’t punish us when we become angry and despondent ... no, s/he loves us anyway, whole heartedly, unconditionally, knowing that we will understand one day – and that day might be the last of this lifetime, or it might be tomorrow.

So praying to God is important because it takes down the barrier between us and him/her, and tells God what we want, and, if we get it right, gives God permission to help us. It also tells God that we are listening when s/he speaks, and that we are grateful for all the good that comes our way each day, and accepting of the challenges that also are part of our lives.

The brochure says that for God to listen to us we have to pray in ways that s/he approves of. That seems a bit of a conundrum, given that first we have to learn God’s will, and then pray accordingly. How do we first learn God’s will? We can find lessons throughout the New Testament in the words of Jesus Christ. Love one another, be honest, truthful and kind. And the Watchtower quotes 1 John 5:14, which says “And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us”. So be bold, be truthful, be trusting, be loving .. and just Be .. a daughter or son of God, a spiritual being in the material world.

Do you remember to say thank you when you pray? Gratitude is incredibly important. Or do you mouth rituals without thought for what the words mean? I agree with the Watchtower brochure here – do not just mouth prayers that you know without putting your heart and soul into the words. (Matthew 6:7-8) Keep it simple. Make it obvious. The Lord ’s Prayer in Matthew is lovely, to begin with –

Our Father who is in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive our debts
As we also have forgiven our debtors
And do not bring us to the time of trial
But rescue us from the evil one.
Begin with this and move on.
Sometimes I do feel unworthy of being the crumbs beneath his/her table, but most of the time I know that God seems me as s/he created me ... a perfect ‘likeness’. The imperfections are my own beliefs and attitudes that put the barrier up between what I want from God and what s/he wants from me. Just how thick is your barrier?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Would you like to know the Truth? (Part 3)

The next question in our journey is about what happens to us when we die. I’m going to tie the 4th question into this (Is there any hope for the dead?), because they are part of each other, in my opinion. Here again we touch on the subject that we cannot truly know the mind of God. Some people might think they do, and we might seem to get glimpses, but given what is written in the Old and New Testaments, and the contrast between them, I’d be very cautious in stating anything irrevocably. You don’t want to condemn yourself to hell by your beliefs, that’s if you believe in hell to start with. :-)

What happens when we die? The Watchtower writers believe that people cease to exist. They quote Ecclesiastes 9:5. I can only go by my memories. I was born with past life and between life memories. It made for a confusing childhood for a long while, until, as an adult, I learned that other people also have memories like mine. So saying to me that we cease to exist, that the dead know nothing, have no more reward, and even the memory of them is lost .. well, it’s simply not true. Let me break it down a little.

Cease to exist. I agree totally that after dead the human body will cease to exist, eventually. If you are buried it takes many years, even longer if the body is embalmed; if you are cremated your ashes will dissolve away more quickly, unless someone places them on the mantelpiece in an urn. So they still exist. The spirit, the eternal part of ourselves, continues. I can remember dying and going to a place of healing, a hall of Light and Learning where I was able to review my lifetime, understand my mistakes, and then move on. I can also remember spending many years as a lost soul, a trapped spirit, in a place and time that seemed safe and familiar, where it was comfortable to live in my pain and my shame – until someone loving and kind came and reminded me of a better ‘place’, and then I returned to the place of Light and Learning and repeated the cycle of review and release. Now, some people might say I have these memories because they were bestowed on me by demonic forces to confuse me and turn me away from God. To be released from such a possibility I have been exorcised by one earnest Bishop, and just recently went and had a Ministry Session with the VMTC (you can find that story here, and yet my memories are intact, and in fact, have always led me back to God, rather than away.

The dead know nothing. I would not raise a dead prophet, as Saul chose to do, just for advice (1 Sam 28:3-25). Even though Samuel was aware of the times he lived in, after dying he would have been totally focused on his own journey, or should have been. When you are dead you are not so connected to the world, and worldly things, you have a wider focus. And strangely enough, doesn’t the fact that the witch of Endor could raise him defeat the whole last question. Samuel had not ceased to exist. He was a disembodied spirit, not non-existent. The same man in a different form, with different priorities.

After years of being a medium and talking to spirits and lost souls (ghosts), I know they know quite a lot, but that their understanding of human lives is very much broader than our own over-focused tunnel vision that we have in each lifetime. And yes it is tunnel-vision, or you can call it ‘ego-centric’. Living humans are sensory beings and can be totally overwhelmed by their day to day lives. It is not until we have died and gone through healing that we can, even to some small degree, understand the totality and complexity of all we have learned in each lifetime. We need the break between lives to sort it all through, learn from it .. and then repeat the experiences in new and varied ways.

No more reward? What is the reward for living but love and trust and truth and freedom? We can have it all when we choose to walk the path laid down for us by Jesus when he came. Even when dead we still walk this path. And the greatest reward of all is to know God and to stand at his/her feet and be Loved – and we do that at the end of every lifetime, and sometimes we do it during our lifetimes, when the Holy Spirit reaches out to each of us and touches our hearts. That touch flares the divine spark within each of us, and for a moment we see Glory.

And even the memory of them is lost? And yet I have a book that is 2000 years old beside me. It is called the Bible and it reminds us of our ancestors .. Saul, Paul, Isaiah, Martha, Ruth, Mary .. are they lost to our memories? Oh right, I never met Mary, but they are close to my heart, and so are their messages. And I remember my grandfather, both of them. They are dead, buried and gone through healing. They are not forgotten. Nor is the great, great, grandmother who blessed my daughter with frizzy hair. She is not forgotten. Genetically she has shown herself, and her ancestors, through my daughter. But yes, some people are forgotten by living people, but no one is ever forgotten by God. S/he who sees into the hearts and minds of all people, knows every one of us intimately, whether we are in living bodies at the moment, or not.

The brochure goes on to say that the dead cannot know, feel, or experience anything, they cannot harm – or help – the living. And then they quote Psalm 146:3, 4. “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish”. Very true. When you die your plans can perish – unless you have trusted someone to carry on the legacy for you. And then they can continue. A good example is Dr Fred Hollows, who developed the cataract operations that have saved the sight of so many people. He is dead, but his legacy remains, and so many people in third world countries are benefiting from his gift to humanity. In that way he is still ‘helping the living’. And lost souls still experience the pain and fear that traps them, until they are returned to healing, and then they ‘experience’ everything all over again, learn from it and move on. Ask to stay aware of it next time around. There is so much to learn from a wider world view.

And on the last point, a word of caution. The dead can hurt the living. Some lost souls are just so nasty that it carries over into death and they try to continue to do what they did when they were alive. Some are so lost to drugs and alcohol that they try to continue these habits although they are deceased. They will attach themselves to living humans and feed off their energy, encouraging them to take up, continue, or make worse, the same destructive habits they had themselves. This is one reason why people like me exist – to help clear those lost beings into a place of healing. To save both the living, and the dead. And some are so intensely angry and negative that they develop telekinesis and can actually physically hurt the living. Another reason for ending their ‘between life’ existence and getting them sent Home.

So, in this case the Watchtower people are wrong. We don’t cease to exist, we continue our spiritual journeys whether we are in a living or body or simply in Spirit, and there is always hope for the dead – because God loves all of his/her creations, and wants us to be as loving, kind and generous as s/he is. To that end s/he provides some people with the gift of ‘discernment of spirits’ so that they can help lost souls find healing, both the living and the dead.

To be continued

Would you like to know the Truth (Part 2)

What is the Truth? In my opinion, God is big enough to encompass all our Truths without feeling we are not satisfying some integral part of his/her whole being, otherwise why does s/he not act to stop us. Oh yes, free will. That is a subject I have spoken of many times before. God gave us the right to choose the path we follow to him/her. That thought helps to negate the one before. If there is only one path back to God then why did God give us so many other options, paths and belief systems to follow? Or was it the devil? And who is the devil? The one who inspires human nastiness.

Truthfully, I think we are more than capable of being appalling, if not horrific, without any help from an outside entity – but then, I do know demons exist, and are not working for our greater good. But that is another subject.

So where were we in the Truth document?

Will War and Suffering Ever End? The brochure tells us that under His Kingdom, a heavenly government, people will not “learn war anymore”. Instead they will beat their swords into ploughshares ... (Isaiah 2:4), “because the Lord will judge between the nations and shall arbitrate for many people”. Looks like they are still arguing. What is an argument anyway? A difference of opinion. What is a war? A huge difference of opinion. What gives us the right to have opinions different from one another? Will these ‘nations’ (separated by what exactly under God’s one government??) have different opinions? I thought that once we all come together in the end times, those of us good enough to go to wherever Zion is, nothing would separate us from one another, for we are all one people under God? Oh, now I remember, we have free will. Is that taken away when God comes and collects us all? And which God? Do I get to go if I don’t like Jehovah? Why Jehovah? According to 1 Samuel ‘the Lord’ is Jehovah. This part of Isaiah speaks only of the Lord. I am siding with El.

Free will gives us the right to say no to war, if we don’t hand our power over to our governments. Just look at the world today? Does one word you say make any difference to your government’s decision to send troupes to Afghanistan, for example? I don’t think mine does. I have been saying NO since the twin towers catastrophe. No one blamed God for that, no, we blamed the terrorists .. an amphorous mass that the American Government said was Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda – and it well might be him and them. Funny name ‘bin laden’ .. been laden .. with a huge weight on his back if it isn’t him. And is he dead, or really in Pakistan as our Australian news said the other night? (A good reason to invade perhaps?) And how does that relate to God and no war?

God’s children, those of us who believe in him/her, have the right to say ‘no more’. We might only be able to say it in our hearts, and hopefully act from that choice in our everyday lives, but it can be enough to change world energy. So why don’t we? Why do you still argue with your brother, mother, sister, neighbour, Telstra, the guy you owe money to, the one who owes you money, your best friend? Why do you, we, me, still harbour grudges? Why do we still hate ourselves, or even dislike ourselves, without some understanding of the causes and a desire to change? Why do people war with themselves? Because it is that war that creates other wars. For in God’s kingdom, and this is God’s kingdom, regardless of whether you think S/He is here now or not, energy follows thought. If we can learn to love ourselves, and our neighbours, as God, and Jesus, Loves us, then yes, there will be no more war. And we don’t need a second coming for that, nor do we need God to step in and whip the ‘good guys’ (all 144,000 of them? What happens to the other 6+ billion) away to somewhere safe. We can do it now, today. Here. NOW. Not tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes.

And the brochure continues: The bible promises: “God will wipe out (away NOAB) every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry (crying NOAB) nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away”. (Rev 21:3-4) Although they quote only from 21:4 I think 21:3 is interesting as well . “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them.” It raises one question .. are we not already His/her people? Why do we have to wait until the end times to be His/her people? The Watchtower people sincerely believe they are one of God’s people. I believe I am. Why does Revelation seem to separate us from God? I must research that one.

To be Continued

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Would you like to know the Truth?

That is a very good title. Yes, I would like to know the ‘truth’ about a whole lot of things that have puzzled me in my life. I won’t bore you with my list, I am sure you have your own. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t wonder about the ‘truth’ of God and the Bible. I knew at 17 that I wanted to be a theologian, even if only an informal one, and I did complete a year and a half of a Bachelor of Theology Degree at St Marks Anglican College in Canberra Australia before financial reasons made me give it up (I couldn’t drive a taxi for 16 hours a day and sleep and study with any intelligence). I regret stopping studying, although at the time it was just another load off my back. Now, when life is simpler I know I don’t have the academic ability to go back, but I am still fascinated by it all, still own all the books and study guides and weblinks I found over the time, and I still dip into the wonder and mystery of it all, and the daftness and nonsense.

Daftness and nonsense are not the subjects for today, although mistranslation does sometimes come under that subject heading. It is amazing what we can make the Bible do with just a touch of a twist, or play on words, and presto! it can say whatever you want.

Why do we do that? How does that help with the search on the subject of God? Why does God put up with the mistranslations? He (and she) must have tremendous faith in us to let us get away with the type of rubbish we can come up with when we try. S/he knows we all return to the same source eventually. I am working at not making too many detours. :-)

Back to the title.

While I was out one day the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania dropped a brochure through our dog door. You guessed it. “Would you like to know the Truth?” Since I am fascinated by all peoples’, and groups’, belief systems, I don’t automatically put them in the bin. Instead I sit down and read them through, and look up all the bible quotes they suggest, and really think about what they believe. The ‘how?’ comes later. So this brochure had me questioning their questions – does God really care about us? Will war and suffering ever end? What happens to us when we die? Is there any hope for the dead? (Given the last question I am not sure I want to know what they think is the answer. :-) ) How can I pray and be heard by God? How can I find happiness in this life? Very good questions. Then they go on – “Where would you look for answer to these questions? If you went to libraries or bookstores, you might find thousands of books claiming to provide the answers. Often, though, one book contradicts another” .. etc. Very true. To them there is only one book that contains reliable answers – their Holy Bible.

Now I say ‘their’ because their book is a different translation to mine. I know this, because I have looked their quotes up.

One of the benefits of going to university is that they tried very hard to give us accurate information, including the most up-to-date translation of the Bible, from the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Mine includes the Apocrypha. (In this case (2007) The New Oxford Annotated Bible (3rd edition), copyright 2001, Oxford University Press, Inc). And then there are the 11 other bibles, all Christian, that I own that I use to check quotes, including the Interlinear Bible which has the Old and New Testament in Hebrew and Greek words, as well as the English translation, so you can check sentence structure, etc. I guess you can see I am serious on the subject. And so I dipped into the Watchtower brochure looking for their answers to their questions and found these:

Does God Really Care about Us?

The brochure said - God never causes what is wicked. “Far be it from the true God to act wickedly, and the Almighty to act unjustly!” (Job 34:10) I don’t think Saul would agree though, having been tormented by an evil spirit from the Lord .. the Lord being Jehovah. He chose to punish Saul because Saul did not obey Samael, his prophet, totally and completely. Saul killed all the Amalekites but kept the best of the sheep, cattle, fatlings and lambs alive. At the time he also spared Agag, the King, but later killed him. Was wanting to feed his people an act against God? God wanted the Amalekites killed because they had opposed the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. (1 Sam 15:2) Just how bad was the opposition that S/He commanded all the people, including children killed? What sort of God does that? Is that a just act? Why aren’t we all condemned now because the Israelites still suffer .. oh, I forgot, they are no longer God’s chosen people.

Given this example from the Old Testament I would have to say that the ‘Lord’, aka Jehovah, doesn’t really seem to care about us, certainly not if we defy Him/Her and go our own way. But wait .. how come we aren’t all dead, or in hell (and that’s another subject), because people defy God constantly in our society? Maybe the answer is back in the brochure. Let’s look at their quote.

“Far be it from the true God to act wickedly, and the Almighty to act unjustly!” (Job 34:10) The Oxford Bible says “far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong”.

True God? Which is the true God? If you dip into the Interlinear you will find that God has any number of names. The one dealing with Saul is called YHWH, Jehovah is a bad translation of those consonants, the other is simply called El. When Jesus prayed to God he prayed to El. So the Watchtower people called our attention to the true God and said he never caused wickedness, but killing your own people, in our society’s estimation is definitely wicked. What was the name of that God .. oh yes, Jehovah. And as one of the lady’s told me in person a few weeks ago, their true God is Jehovah. Given His actions with Saul, and on other occasions, I think I would rather go with El.

To be continued