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peace through reliance upon the Lord

Thus says YHWH:

"Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from YHWH.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed is the man who trusts in YHWH,
whose trust is YHWH.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit."

-- Jeremiah 17:5-8

Self-reliance or reliance upon others is drawing from a dry well; no good comes from it and it is ultimately representative of turning away from God. But daily trust and dependence upon the Lord removes fear and anxiety, even when trouble (here represented by drought) comes.

A short article summarizing scriptures that prove that Jesus is the savior of all men and the whole world, and that at the end of the lesson all humans will be saved!

the gift of God

And you, being dead in the trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--among whom also we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, doing the desires of the body and the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved.

And he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

--Ephesians 2:1-9

December 24th, 2016 - New picture hanging inside church building..."God With Us" written about San Francisco skyline with Golden Gate Bridge.

December 24th, 2016 - New picture hanging inside church building..."God With Us" written about San Francisco skyline with Golden Gate Bridge.

a sacred bond between God and his people

Then God spoke all these words, saying, "I am YHWH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, YHWH your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."
-- Exodus 20:1-6

In English (and because of familiarity) we can miss some important aspects of this text, so I offer a few brief comments.

First, the Lord purposely (and repeatedly) characterizes himself as "your God" to his people; the second person singular suffix in the Hebrew indicates that each individual is being addressed, and not simply the corporate body of God-fearers. He reminds his people that he is their deliverer out of slavery: God's righteousness meant salvation for his people and judgment against unbelieving Egypt. His love resulted in their freedom and his heart was for their welfare.

Second, the Hebrew behind "you shall have no" is the same language used for marriage, it is covenant language bonding God and his people. And, as with marriage, God demands faithfulness. To be his bride, his people need to understand the exclusive fidelity that God requires. He does not tolerate worship of other gods, he does not want idolatry to become an obstacle to his relationship.

Third, there is a great contrast between the Lord's punishment of infidelity (visited upon four generations) and his pouring out of lovingkindness (ḥesed, a frequent and important term) upon thousands, possibly meaning "thousands of generations", depending on how you interpret the Hebrew.

Shared consciousness and awareness

I practice contemplation in the Carmelite tradition.

This is a kind of meditation where you sit, and wait, and gaze towards God.

Often you may feel calm and peaceful, but nothing particular happens. You struggle with distracting thoughts, you wait, you trust. At the end of your own assertions, it's like gazing into what the medieval writer described as 'the cloud of unknowing'. The surrender of assertion, and awaiting for reception.

Then sometimes, just sometimes, you suddenly find yourself on a different plane... like a vast plain of consciousness. And that consciousness is not simply out there: you're in it. You conscious and aware in that great consciousness.

It's like a sharing. A gift of love and awareness: of God's own love and awareness.

Afterwards, what it teaches me is: sharing is a spiritual principle. Sharing of life and sharing of love. Living alongside and with people. Being receptive to what they may give you. Relinquishing tense mental control and just opening to the love that flows.

From the perspective of a Christian pathway, I suppose you could say that it's like the shared life and consciousness of the Holy Trinity. You could call it a glimpse of eternity. But it's also a call and invitation to the way you live your life, and share, and hopefully grow through the opening up to love.

If you are interested in exploring the contemplative life I recommend Thomas Merton's 'Seven Storey Mountain', Therese de Liseux's 'Story of a Soul', and Rowan William's book 'Teresa of Avila' and her book 'The Interior Castle'.

Or consider staying in a convent or monastery and asking if you could explore contemplation with one of the people there.

The Book of Ruth

I love the Book of Ruth. It is such a tender-hearted narrative. And I love the way a lot of its perspectives involve two women, walking with God, and the solidarity between them, and their faithfulness.

A lot of the Bible seems quite masculine-slanted in its voice (which is not to imply that God cares any the less about women). In the Book of Ruth though, there is a refreshing account of two women's fidelity in adversity, their feelings, their perspective.

Of course, I also love the good, decent, strong and masculine role of Boaz in the narrative. He demonstrates how a good estate should be run, he shows care, he shows respect for a woman's dignity, he shows faith.

In the way Boaz runs his household and estate, I like to think it reflects the eternal household and good estate of God, to which each of us is invited and called.

The Book resonates with mercy, love and grace.


the one true and living God

For they report concerning us what sort of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to await for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, the one delivering us from the coming wrath.

-- 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 (Paul, regarding the testimony of the Macedonians, the Achaians, and others)


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