Prepare Ye The Way!

For the Love of the Spirit

Listen

Listen carefully to that which is calling.

Allow your spirit to receive the goodness and the desire for itself.

Listen

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February 2, 2012 Posted by | Spirit | , , , | Leave a comment

Avoiding Avoiding Suffering

No.  I didn’t stutter.

You could hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, this is something you are free to do and is in accord with your nature, but perhaps precisely this ‘holding back’ is the only suffering that you might be able to avoid. (Franz Kafka)

It is human nature to recoil and try to protect our sensibilities from sufferings all around us;

  • War
  • Hunger
  • Disease
  • Sexual Violence
  • Domestic Violence
  • Homelessness
  • Poverty
  • Crime
  • Addiction

Did I miss anything?  I am sure I did.  The world is full of suffering of all sorts and these are just off the top of my head.  Feel free to add to this list.

Is it enough?  Sure, it is.  It is more than enough.

Do you avoid thinking about it?  I do it more often than I wish.

It’s human nature.  We are constantly bombarded by magnitudes of suffering in the world.  We are pelted by it from the street corners and the television news.  We have 24-hour news channels devoted to bringing it directly into our living rooms and right into our faces.  During the commercials we see children with cancer, in foreign countries without clean water or adequate nutrition, and animals neglected and abused.

We avert our eyes.  We try to shut out the sounds.

Why?  It’s simple enough.  It hurts to see it.  Seeing it forces us to face it.

Facing it forces us to acknowledge the suffering that surrounds us the entire world around.

Acknowledging it takes us out of our comfort zone and makes us wonder why a loving God would permit it.

Why does God permit it?

God doesn’t permit it!

We do!

We permit it — by avoiding it.  By turning our backs and shielding our eyes and stopping our ears, we permit it.  God has us as his human agents here on earth.  He gave us his Son who in turn gave us his Holy Spirit and filled us with the love of that Spirit to do unto others as we ourselves would have done unto us.

If we love our brothers and sisters then we will cloth them when they are naked.  We will feed them when they are are hungry.  We will shelter them when they are homeless.  We will care for them when they are sick, and we will visit them when they are imprisoned.

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did for me.’  (Matthew 25:40 )

It has been said that all evil needs to prosper is for good people to do nothing.  I am not fooling myself or trying to fool you into thinking that we will eliminate human suffering.  I am not fooling myself or trying to fool you into thinking that human action can ever bring an end to all the ills, evils, and sufferings of the world.  That will come only when the end of time comes.  May it come soon!

But I am telling you, as Kafka said, that in spite all your trying to avoid the gross tragedies and sufferings you will still be confronted by them.  If you insulate yourself so completely that they are totally out of sight, then your spirit will still be so convicted by the horrors that this world throws up at you that you will be unable to avoid personal suffering because of your “holding back.”  Sooner or later you will suffer —guaranteed.

So look at the suffering of the world.  Turn on the news.  Look into the eyes of a homeless person.  Pray!  Dear God, pray!

Then when you are finished watching and listening and praying, get up off your couch and get out and involve yourself in doing something to relieve the suffering in whatever small or large way you can.  Get up off your wallet and donate to individuals who are dedicating their time and efforts to ease the pain that is all around them.

You don’t have to give money or material.  You just have to care enough to reach out to those less fortunate and suffering.  You need to suffer with them.  Listen please!  If you suffer with those suffering you reduce the suffering of all.

Cook a meal.  Sit and listen while someone tells you of their sufferings.  Be there for someone.

Carry the word of love.  Love someone who thinks they are unlovable.

That is what this ministry and this blog is doing.

I am reaching out to my readers with the love of God and exhorting you to reach out to others.  I  go out into the streets and carry the love of God to the People of the Streets.  I volunteer my time to a local organization that provides Peer Support for those who are mentally ill.

Help Love of the Spirit in its ministry to carry out its missions and goals.  Go to the CONTACT page and donate through the address you find there.  The ministry will use all donations to relieve suffering and feelings of Lovelessness and Loneliness.  It will use all donations to carry the love of God, and, God willing, will one day grow to reach more.

Be a Torchbearer of the Light

In Christ’s Love, Michael

January 29, 2012 Posted by | Social Justice | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prepare Ye The Way!

Greetings!

This is partly in the way of announcements and partly in the way of a little sharing of my calling.  Thanks for peeking in!

I have been doing a little tweaking on this blog’s appearance.  I changed the background color a couple of times to get it tuned just the way I like it.  I hope it suits you too.  🙂

I was also looking for a tag line at the top of the page.  previously it just said “For the Love of the Spirit” twice.  That just wouldn’t do.  So I contemplated it for a while with what exactly I am trying to accomplish here in mind.  In a small way I was thinking of what I could do to improve blog traffic.

Blog traffic is nice in a couple of ways.  It is an ego boost.  It lets me know that what I am putting out here is actually being viewed at least long enough for someone to say “YUCK!”  At most it means that people are saying “BOY!  This is someone who I have to read more!”  The latter definitely doesn’t seem to be the case though as I have been going at this for a season now and a path has yet to be beaten to my door.

I thought to make it more visually and thematically appealing, so that  once someone walked in the door they might stick around long enough to get past the appetizers.

The biggest reason though, that bog traffic is important to me, is that it lets me know that the calling I have received to carry the Good News (Gospel) of God’s Love through the salvation we receive from his sacrifice of Jesus is being served.

I want to do more for God in expanding my calling to reach more of his children.  That is what I am doing in my life outside this blog in my ministry.

It is slow going as I have no financial resources of my own to further the ministry, but slowly and surely I am making steps to serve God’s Children in any spiritual way that is at my disposal.  I continually chip away at the obstacles that are in my path and I have faith that one day I will break through if it is in the will of my Father.

As a side note, if you, Dear Reader, are interested and moved by the Spirit, you may help in this ministry by sending donations to the address given on the Contact page here.  If you have questions or concerns before you take such a step, you may also email me from the email link provided on the Contact page or from this link here.

Bottom Line:

Preparing a Way for the Lord

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:    “A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation. (Luke 3:4-6, Isaiah:40:3-5)

I am following a calling from God to prepare a way for the end of days when we have the opportunity to be in reunion with our Creator through the sacrifice of the First Born from the dead, Jesus the Christ.

If this is a “wilderness” then I strive to be a voice (among many) who cries from it.

MARANATHA!

In Christ’s Love, Michael

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Announcements, Blog Traffic | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Free Agent

Free Will?

Absolutely.

Free Agent?

Nope!

I have been signed to an Eternal Contract purchased by the

Blood of Jesus!

GLORY!

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  (I Peter 1:18-20 NIV)

January 20, 2012 Posted by | Redemption | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Mighty Way

In response to an email from me on current happenings in my life and how God is using me for service and guiding me in my calling, one of my spiritual and religious mentors, Pastor Elizabeth Emrey, wrote me saying,

“You are in my prayers. I am glad that God is using you in a mighty way.” (emphasis added)

Everything God does is mighty!

By definition of his omnipotence, God cannot help but act in mighty ways.  I had not thought about what God was doing in my life quite in those words, but once it was “out there” I meditated on it.

Every act of God, no matter how small it may seem, or how it may be compared in magnitude to other acts of his Divine Grace and Mercy, is exactly equal to any act that flows from the godhead of our Holy Father.  Everything that comes from God comes from an absolute source and exists in perfection and power.

Can there be ANY limitation to the acts or results that are initiated by God?

Technically, the answer is no, but practically the answer is Yes!

How can this be?  How is it possible for the will of God to be limited by ANYTHING?

When humans are the tools employed by God then there are, in human terms, imperfect results.  Men and women are subject to all the imperfect traits in any human.  We are subject to sickness, temptation, pride, and, in the end, especially death.  We are subject to Sin.

The virtue of a tool is judged by its ability to perform the job required of it.

So, why would God use an imperfect tool to carry out his perfect will?

Why would he not just go ahead and bring into reality his will just by the absolute force of his power without relying on human agency?

Part of the answer is achieved by first realizing what his will is.  The will of God is to bring his children into reunification with him.  That is the whole story of the Bible.  The first humans embodied as they were in the genesis story of Adam and Eve were created in perfect union.  Nothing else needed doing.

God even instructed them what NOT to do (eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil), and gave them an alternate recourse to perpetuate the perfect union of humanity and God (eat of the Tree of Life).  I think you know the outcome of that enterprise.  That is where the lesson of the less than perfect tool comes in.

The story of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and humanity’s eating of it is a metaphor of the Free Will that humans possess.  In that (among other ways), we are in the spiritual Image of God.  Humans alone of all animals possess the quality of God’s Free Will.  God didn’t create man and woman to be automatons.  He created children.  Someone he could love as beings like himself — and who could love him in return without being forced.

By exercising free will we may chose to follow his will or our own.  When we chose our will over his, then the nature of our humanity causes us to act in contradiction to his will.  We are told in the bible that merely to THINK in contradiction is as bad as the act.  First the thought comes, brothers and sister, then the act — cause and effect.  Effect never precedes cause.

The nature of our humanity causes us to want to be god in ourselves.  When God speaks to us and tells us his will and it is not what we want to do, then rebellion arises — always and without fail.

If we are called by God into service of his will and follow that will then we will perform as best we are able, given all the limitations of body and spirit.  The stronger our faith in his will and in his love for us then the greater our virtue to be able to carry out that will as it is spoken to us.  The greater our virtue the more we will grow in faith and love.  In this life and in our bodies (flesh) we cannot be perfect in faith.  Faith does not become perfect until we are face to face with our creator and then faith ceases to exist and becomes absolute knowledge.

We will know as we have been known.  Glory!

So, rolling around back to the beginning of this post, is God truly using me in a mighty way?

I believe he is.  The goal he has in mind is that of which I am unsure!

Is it to serve his children by bringing and leading them to the love he has for them?

That must be part of it.  But, I am left looking at my efforts and wondering if this tool — this body, mind and spirit that I possess — is adequate for the job.

If not, then why use me for the task?  Why not use someone better suited — stronger in all three aspects?

I am full of pride, though less than previously.  Most (I hope) of that stupid pride has been burned and beaten out of me by previous failures to completely follow his will and my failure to have complete faith that nothing of my will is adequate for the completion of divine will.

So maybe that is a part of it.  Maybe part of the mighty way I am being used is for MY benefit!  As I practice following his will, I get better at it.  As I put my faith into action, the greater my faith becomes.  As I share God’s love, the greater that his love becomes in me.

And maybe, just maybe, he is is using this imperfect, error prone, tool because that is the way it works best.  Maybe, just maybe, it is by viewing others just like me as they grow in love and virtue in God, that others see solid examples of the possible!  As his might is seen in me in imperfect representation as a frail human, the more to the Glory of his Love that he should choose such a weak vessel to be the object of Divine Grace.

In the end I am left with more questions than answers.  The closer I get to following his will, the more my faith grows and the more that is revealed to me.  And each step along the way, the questions get the less.  It is not that the more I know the more I realize that I do not know.  That is indeed just the case.  The more knowledge given to me the more I realize just how much there is to be learned.

No.  The questions get less, because I don’t need the answers as much.  All will be revealed, if I just wait on the Lord.  His love is sufficient.

merciful and mighty!

God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

January 19, 2012 Posted by | God, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Thing Leads to Another

In On Our Own I discussed an organization here in Charlottesville that provides a recovery model for mental illness based on self-help, or what is colloquially called the Consumer Movement.  It is also called the Psychiatric-Survivors Movement and the Consumer-Survivor Movement.

I discussed beginning to volunteer as a Mentor at the local center and gave details from their website and links to their site.

Since the article here was published on January 5, I have put in my first day as a volunteer at the center and have been designated Webmaster for the center’s site.  There are difficulties at present establishing administrative and editorial of the site but the issue is being resolved by Executive Director J. Rose Farber, and I expect that the difficulties will be resolved by the middle of next week.

It is difficult to describe how fulfilling it is to me to volunteer at the site.  In addition to being of service of others, I am also served by the Peer Support paradigm.  All members (which I count myself blessed to be one) of On Our Own of Charlottesville, Inc., are Consumers of mental health services in a peer support environment.  I myself have been a survivor of alcoholism and depression and am greatly benefited by being able to share my difficulties, past and present, with others who are able to emphasize and understand from a first hand perspective.  No individual is above another in importance or position.  We are all equals, and our participation is intended to benefit all including ourselves.

As I continue to grow in this system in general and at this center in particular, I will continue to give my readers here updates.

I have started an ambitious project of writing an academic paper on the recovery model and will publish it in one form or another when it is complete.  I will give updates on the progress of that project here as well.

I will soon be adding links in the sidebar relative to the Consumer Movement as my work researching the subject proceeds.

Stay Tuned.

In Christ’s Love, Michael

January 11, 2012 Posted by | Social Justice | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Actualizing Salvation

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that was he has done has been done through God. (John 3:21)

In order for truth to be real — actual — you have to practice it.  “In Theory . . . ” means nothing in the real world.  “Reality” is what is measurable and open to examination and example.

We are hired for jobs based on prior experience and references from others who can attest to our proven ability.  We are fired if we cannot show by concrete example that what we say we can do, we can actually do.

“Well, she TALKS a good game . . .,” is a common expression and highlights the point here.

The same is true in religion as it is in the secular world.  It is true in the eye of God, as it is in the eye of humans.  Another common expression is, “They who cannot do, teach.” Despite its extreme cynicism, it holds a very large kernel of truth.  In religion it might be expressed as, “Practice what you preach.”

If I say that I am saved, but do not act as though I am saved, then I am sending a VERY strong message that I am NOT saved!  Is that who I am trying to impress — people who might happen to think that my state of salvation is of some personal importance to them ?  NO!  It’s not about trying to impress ANYONE, not even and especially God.

It will show itself.

If you live in the truth, you will act truthfully.  If you live in love, you will act lovingly.  If you have faith, you will behave faithfully.  If you are saved, you will act as though you are saved.  You may not do any of these things as well as you would like or as well as others think you should, but none of it is easy.  And, until you reach paradise, its all a matter of degree anyway!

We are given plenty of opportunities to express any of these qualities in daily life.  When we do act on these divine qualities and are slapped down by the world as a result we have two options.  We may stay down and avoid the risk and consequent pain that accompanies a failed risk, OR we may pick ourselves back up and continue to do that which actualizes the thought.  Doing that — actualizing the thought — is a sign of the faith that we profess.  The more we act on our faith the stronger our faith becomes and NOT by practice.  It is because acting on our faith brings it more and more into actuality by its presence in the real world as well in the spirit.  The glorious part is that the stronger our faith is the greater our received rewards for practicing it and actualizing.

There may even come a point where your faith is so great that all fear of putting it into practice will disappear.  This is a definite sign that you are becoming perfected in love.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  (I John 4:18)

How do you act like you’re saved?  If you are already saved, then you already know.  If you are not already saved, then get saved.  In the meantime, whether you are already saved or not, get into the Word of God and pray for revelation and understanding.  Meditate on the messages streaming back from God.  Open your ears and listen for a change.

January 8, 2012 Posted by | Faith | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment