Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What is the Commandment Regarding Marriage and Divorce?

Great multitudes of people continued to follow after Jesus as he departed from Galilee and came into the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan. As the multitudes gathered with Jesus, he healed them of all their sicknesses. Then came the Pharisees tempting Jesus again and said to him: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

Jesus answered saying have you not read that he that made them at the beginning made them male and female and for this cause a man will leave his father and mother and will cling to his wife making them the two as one flesh? What God joins together no man or woman should pull apart.

The Pharisees (this group of people must have been extremely devious) then said Moses commanded us to draw up a writing of divorcement and just put her away. Why did Moses say this?

Jesus answered the Pharisees and said Moses told you that because of the hardness of your hearts, but from the beginning this was not the case. Whoever puts away his wife, except it be for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery and whoever marries her that is put away commits adultery.

The disciples spoke to Jesus saying if the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. I read this line to mean it is not a good thing to divorce a wife and marry another woman, and it is not a good thing to marry the woman who has been divorced by her husband, and visa versa.

There is an exception to this rule, which is in the case of fornication. I read this to mean for these people and all generations after these people there is a way out of marriage if a partner commits fornication. The innocent person who has been made free of the marriage has the right to remarry without committing sin. The fornicator of this marriage is not eligible to remarry. This exception only frees the innocent partner. The guilty partner, as to what these sayings mean, is now destined for life to remain alone or to re-marry the original woman (if she desires this). The same applies if the woman is the fornicator against her husband. This is the case if these people desire greater the prize of eternal life.

The book of laws and rules is just that – a book of instructions. Men and women always have the free will and a mind able to decide how they want to proceed in their lives.

Chances are there will be no great lightning bolts or a sudden boom of thunder if men and women choose the bliss for a season in this present life over bliss forevermore in heaven.

However, a stern “depart from me, I never knew you, you that worked iniquity,” will be the reply from Jesus on the great judgment day. From there, I believe is a separation from all those who decided to work toward an eternal bliss forevermore in heaven. The book of instruction I read says that place is in outer darkness, where the fire is quenched not, and where there will be gnashing upon each others teeth, wailing, screaming, and crying as the flames roll on and on forevermore.

Hell has enlarged itself and continues to do so because there are so many destined to go there. Remember the straight and narrow road I spoke of in another article. This road is one that will be traveled by very few people. There will be no long lines and crowds in heaven. And if this be the case for what seems to be a minor infraction to many people, where in this world will the true ungodly people be? In this same place!

I suppose readers know by now, I believe in a hell fire to be as real as heaven.

What if both partners commit fornication? In that case, I think they are both at liberty to divorce each other, but neither is at liberty to get married again. They must stay alone if they desire to receive an eternal life, because to marry another would cause the sin of adultery.

In the case where a woman marries a man who has been divorced because of an act or acts of fornication commits the sin of adultery or the other way around with a man marrying a woman who committed fornication and was divorced because of this, the spouse of that type of person now is guilty of adultery. I truly believe there is no sin in these cases if intimacy never takes place, however, that is not likely to be. It just would only make sense to speculate a man and woman in these situations could genuinely love each other and be the best of friends, and live together in the same household without intimacy and still be able to work out a salvation of eternal life. However, as Jesus spoke in those days, very few people will be able to accept these sayings.

These sayings are very difficult for most men and women to accept. Jesus said he knew this would be difficult for most men and women, but save those who can abide by these sayings. I take this to mean……this is how it is. If you desire to earn an eternal life, this is how it is. If you don’t care, and you cannot contain yourself, meaning you must have a woman or you must have a man intimately, then tough luck, you won’t be seeing God the Father in heaven after while. But for a season while you are alive, you will have your choice of living in bliss and intimacy. So really, it is just a matter of what is most important to each person. We cannot have it both ways. It is totally each person’s decision. Jesus does not make anyone do anything! If you will listen to him, and now the Holy Ghost he sent for our comfort and teaching, the Holy Ghost will gently guide men and women into all the truths of God, and even the deep, deep things of God the Holy Ghost can reveal. That is only though if you “desire” it to be so.

Jesus finishes this talk by saying there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, who were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it let him receive it. So again, here, Jesus is saying, if you are able to do as I have commanded you to do, press onward toward the greater prize and the higher calling, which is eternal life and eternal bliss that will last for much longer than a season of “so-called” bliss. As the ages roll on in heaven so will you be there also in perfect “bliss” forevermore.

At this point you might be thinking…..do you really believe all that? And I have to answer you saying: Yes, I do believe it. Without faith you cannot make even the first step toward knowing the things of God much less learning the deep, deep things of God and on into eternal life.

This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

© 2007 Connie Limon. All Rights Reserved

Written by: Connie Limon, Spiritual Teacher. Visit us at The Spiritual Guide, http://www.thespiritualguide.info for spiritual teachings and guidance based upon the King James Version Bible. Visit Camelot Articles at http://www.camelotarticles.com to submit your original articles for website promotion and back links.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Abundant River Of Life

A light bulb moment for me this week, was the recognition that “universal law” is completely dependable and completely unchangeable – in much the same way that we “know” this about laws of gravity, electricity and aerodynamics. ("Advanced Formula For Total Success" www.total-success-4u.com).

We can cry at the banks of this energy stream or we can be happy at the edges of this ebb and flow; we can take a teaspoon, a bucket or a barrel to collect its abundant treasures – it doesn’t care - this “river” is neutral and continues along its natural, dependable, unchangeable course.

This "a-ha" drew a line in the sand for me regarding my “inner work” and its value. It clearly is the ONLY work that is more than worthy of my time. My daily busy-ness will not produce anything close to the results that I’m after. Not while my personal "transformer" is set to severely reduce the incoming energy current. “Desired results” are and will remain mere wishes until my mind truly expands - way beyond its comfort zone - my current capacity for Accepting, Seeing, Savoring, Expecting, Receiving and giving Thanks (A.S.S.E.R.T. www.sizzlingedge.com).

Many times a day I still relate to aspects of my life as a child would. Waiting to jump in while two other (not very friendly looking) kids keep turning a long, thin skipping rope – they speed it up the more I rock back and forth in hesitation. To me that is a “red flag”, indicating that I still set the responsibility for my results firmly outside of myself.

We can only experience freedom in direct proportion to the amount of truth that we are willing to accept without running way. I might believe that I’d progressed well with my work in the area of personal responsibility and “growing up”. That’s a bit of an egotistical, arrogant trap after you've accomplished a decent set of courageous, personal victories!

I recognise now, that although I rarely (if ever) consciously blame any tangible thing or any person outside of myself for a given circumstance, I do subconsciously still place responsibility firmly at the feet of “intangible forces at work – somewhere out there”. The question is, which idea/s and belief/s am I willing to shed so that I now courageously leap into my game? When that mind shift (point of "metanoia"; in ancient Greece, metanoia meant "the shifting of minds") is reached only a quantum leap is possible for the kinds of results that I will produce. This need only take as much time as I choose!

“Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

© 2007 Thea Westra is an international life coach who resides in Perth, Western Australia. She is editor and publisher of a free, monthly newsletter at http://www.forwardsteps.com.au Thea also recommends http://www.lightisreal.com and http://freemoneyebook.com/dlthea.html

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Real Secret of the Law of Vibration

Since ancient times the human race has known that there is a power that humans can use to exert control. This power is said to be able to control everything from the minds of other people to circumstances and even physical things. This weird and uncanny power was often mislabeled as evil; called by many opponents as witchcraft.

In those days one major religion was taking over the world, and force was used to convert any who did not readily express their belief and fidelity to that religion. Those superstitious people were afraid of anything that could not be explained. More often than not those who knew how to use this power were wrongfully accused by the religious people and were badly mistreated as well as executed. Oh what a wonderful place this world would be now if those people had become teachers instead of bonfires.

The trouble lies with those that stick to their dogmatic belief that only religious leaders know the truth. They believe that the mind is only a confusing theory, an improbable fairy tale that is sinful. These religious types also believe that to use your mind for anything other than worship is some sort of unforgivable sin that will result in eternal punishment.

So what is this power that has been so mislabeled, abused, and maligned? It is now known by modern science as the Law of Vibration, and is the foundation of the Law of Attraction. This natural law exists right alongside of other better known laws such as; magnetism, cohesion, heat, electricity, and gravity. It is not newly discovered it has been known for all time. The only problem is that it was suppressed by those who sought to control the human race. Only the upper class of societies was allowed to learn this great knowledge, and they kept it closely guarded; not only to have a better life, but also to avoid being burned at the stake.

Somewhere inside your body just below the heart is an area known as the Solar Plexus. This area is a great junction of nerves as well as arteries. This is your center, your home of the soul. Think of it this way; the old saying of “rely on your gut feelings” is a true teaching. Yes your mind is an integral part of the whole vibration process, but it is your center, some call it your heart, which holds the power. Many people make the error of trying to use only their mind to create their reality, but until you have integrated with your heart, you will experience limited, if any success.

Science has discovered that underlying all forms of matter there is an underlying energy of vibration. This is not metaphysical theory but is scientific verifiable fact. Everything in the universe is vibrating, from the atom, the molecule, to mountains, and every living thing; there is a vibration. It is the difference in the rate of vibration that determines its form. Slow vibration manifests as a rock, fast vibration registers as wind, very high vibrations register as sound, and all the layers and spectrums in between. In short all things are manifestations of the eternal energy from which all things precede.

Now here is the piece of information that will cause you to shift your paradigm; thoughts and feelings are vibrations. Through the use of your own rhythmic output you attract similar vibrating things into your reality. This is a skill that once learned and mastered will greatly enhance your life and all those around you.

The mind produces thought, the heart produces emotions. When the two parts are working together they create an energy that is transmitted into the universe just a surely as a sound wave. This thought wave will travel for infinite distances and will attract things that are of similar vibrating frequency. These things that are attracted to this thought wave will move towards the source of the thought vibration and grow stronger in the process. This results in the apparent manifestation of things into ones own reality.

Without getting into too long of a discussion, as there is not room here, the things that are attracted to you are the things you have generated thought energy for. Often times we have many things that we do not really want or desire in our life. It is because we worried that something might happen and did not want it to happen, but because we kept worrying, to be exact; generating a thought wave, we attracted the very thing we worried about as that is the way the Law of Vibration works. So learn how to worry about what you do desire and not what you do not desire.

There is an exact and reproducible method of generating thought waves that bring about the desired results. There is many a recipe, of sorts, if you will but learn them and use them for your own improvement. There is also a certain skill to using these recipes. These can be easily learned, and as long as you follow the proper process you will get the desired results. Like all things in life the more you practice the better you become. This knowledge brings strength to the user of it, giving you the ability to do as you will.

Be Blessed

Ralston Heath recently retired from 25+ years of active duty. Now that his life is his own again, he is working to share with the world all he knows. Check him out on his blog

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Be Solution Oriented With The Law of Attraction

I was talking to my friend Dru of Tahitian Noni International today. She has always been an inspiration to me, and is a real role model of a woman who has been through tough times and recovered beautifully. She is a top salesperson, and her success is a result of skill and a persistently positive attitude.

We were discussing how that, despite our intentions, because of the way we were educated, that we, (our culture in general), were taught to be able to predict problems, and then solve them. So while the intention was to learn to be solution oriented, the general emotional climate (pick any decade), and the "Lord of the Flies" climate at many public schools, produced exactly the opposite reality for many.

Why do I say that? Well look around and what do I see? Millions of internet searches a day for anything related to riches, inner peace, and The Law of Attraction. Best-sellers related to a zillion aspects of fulfillment. So something sure went wrong somewhere for a few generations of people who mostly grew up without their neighborhoods blowing up, without having to forage for food in a garbage dump, or sleep in the snow. How could we lack anything?

Well, any tv ad will tell you what you lack, right now. It is a form of hypnosis.

Aside from that, if we have attracted what we got, and it isn't what we want.....we all know now, we have to change our focus.

So it seems like we have done the opposite for a long time - did we become problem focused so we could excel in solving problems? We didn't separate the academic side of this with the "real life" version. We were rewarded in many ways for being problem solvers. That kind of includes perpetuating problems. We did the opposite of what we needed to do to fulfill our dreams.

Not everyone, of course. But there are those million searches, million best-sellers. To get our solution-focus from someone else. JUST the people I do business with, at Earn While Shopping, and at Brad Yates' "Money Beyond Belief", 2 out of so many, were, once, reading an article like this.

And then they flipped over to the other side of the coin.

We don't need to be perfect. We just need to be solution oriented, appreciate ourselves for doing so, and engage with the Law of Attraction as much as we can.

All the best!

Manifesting What You Want4 Simple Steps to Manifesting What You Want Be mindful of the things in your mind for your thoughts can work for you or against you

Recipe for Manifesting Your DesiresA Recipe for Manifesting Your Desires Think You must think about what it is you desire. Visualize your desire in detail and feel the emotions you would have by accomplishing your desire.

Dianne M. Buxton is a ballet teacher, and a writer. If you find these ideas useful, you can find out more about them here.

Commit to Do!

How many times have you made an attempt to do something only to fail? Have you ever attempted to start a project, quit smoking, or loose weight, only to wind up either worse off than when you originally began or with a half-completed project?

What about that business you swore you would promote this year? That book you were going to write? Did you get it done? After numerous attempts at initiating an activity do you conclude you just can't adequately motivate yourself to accomplish the task? Do you allow ‘things’ to get in your way?

Perhaps the challenge is not that you haven't formally set your ultimate goal, but rather that you have decisively committed to failure. Think back, did you say I am going to ‘try'? The word try in itself is the beginning of the end. ‘Try' is simply not as motivating as ‘DO'!

Webster's definition of try is 1 a : to examine or investigate judicially b (1) : to conduct the trial of (2) : to participate as counsel in the judicial examination of 2 a : to put to test or trial -- often used with out 3 : to make an attempt at – It is clear that even Mr. Webster fundamentally realized that to try was a pledge ONLY to try.

When you try to accomplish something you often fail simply because you have released yourself from the guilt of failure; you never said you were going to do, just that you would try. Therefore, when you do fail you can say “been there, done that” without feeling like you failed. However, the reality is; you did fail!

I have found that when I commit to DO, things get done! That one simple word purposely produces a mindset for success! I recall when I began my business, 30+ years ago, I simply decided to DO! I didn't say, I am going to TRY, I said I AM GOING TO…! No option for potential failure there.

Another effective illustration I recall is when I decided to stop smoking. I had TRIED several times before, but the day I said ‘I QUIT!’; that is the day I REALLY did quit!

How do you purposely produce decisive success? Yes, do start with a clearly defined goal in mind. Yes, do successfully create a plan, write it down, and make it a reality. But most importantly decide ultimately to succeed! Commit to DO!

To be truly successful and to remain committed to your ultimate goal, ‘Commit to DO’ today!

© Copyright 2005 Ginger Marks This is the second in the ‘Commit to’ series. Commit to Excellence – Nov. 2005.

Ginger Marks is the founder of DocUmeant, Your writing assistant. For more information, visit her website at http://www.documeant.net. She is also the Copy Editor for Ladies First Magazine. Ladies First Magazine online is your first stop for business articles, profiles and resources for and by female entrepreneurs, http://www.ladiesfirstmag.biz. Dui

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Great Reading

ArticlesBooks Win Over Books On CD - Audio Books - Why Recorded Books On Tape And MP3 Books Win Over Books On CDFrom Books on Tape - Audio Books: From Books on Tape to Downloadable Audio BooksHard-To-Find Books - Rare Books vs Hard-To-Find BooksReligious Intolerance - Religious IntoleranceDating & Religious Beliefs - Dating & Religious BeliefsReligious Apparitions - Well Known Religious ApparitionsReligious Tolerance - The Ideal of Religious ToleranceWhat is Religion - What is ReligionReligion For Non Believers - Religion For Non BelieversSpirituality Enemies Or Friends - Spirituality And Religion - Enemies Or Friends?The Algonquin Bible - The Algonquin BibleHow Bible Study Differs From Bible Reading - How Bible Study Differs From Bible ReadingCan God Change - The Bible story states we are captured with false ideals pertain to its account message. These false ideals of human/adam we contain are about the Bible account. God states in

A Healthy Spiritual Heart

As we become educated in the ways we can live healthier lives by consciously caring for our physical heart, it is equally important to be educated about taking care of our Spiritual Heart. The physical and the spiritual heart are linked together as one in mind, body and spirit. Many believe humans are the connection between heaven and earth. We are the only warm-blooded mammals with our heart exposed because we walk upright on two legs, while all others walk on four legs protecting their hearts. Caring for our spiritual heart can in turn make our physical heart healthier.
What is the Spiritual heart? Some say the spiritual heart is the link to our soul. As a healthy physical heart keeps our body alive, a healthy spiritual heart keeps our spirit alive. The spiritual heart has wisdom, an intelligence that knows the broader perspective of our life’s purpose. The spiritual heart feels the emotions. It connects us to our passions, our heart’s desires. The spiritual heart gives our lives purpose a nd meaning.
The spiritual heart operates much the same way as the physical heart. Both beat on their own, without us having to think about it. The electrical impulses of the physical heart constantly manage the heartbeat, exercising the heart muscles so life giving blood is cleansed and pumped through our bodies. The electrical impulses of the spiritual heart are constantly opening us up to the wisdom of our spirit, circulating the energy of our emotions and guiding us to live life with a deeper, richer purpose. When the physical heart becomes out of sync or when there are blocks in the passage ways, a heart attack occurs.
What do we do to prevent physical heart attacks? We strengthen the heart muscle by exercising to increase the pulse rate and follow this with relaxation. We eat foods that keep the passages open and flowing. The same is true for preventing a spiritual heart attack. We can strengthen the heart muscle by practicing meditation, prayer or quiet time, making the mind, body sp irit connection. The “food” that keeps the spiritual heart channels open is the feelings and sensations we feel as these emotions surface. If we block our feelings and don’t allow them to surface, it will cause a “blockage” in our spiritual heart, much the way blockages occur in our physical heart when we don’t properly care for it. Asking the spiritual heart to cleanse the judgment, anger and resentment helps us feel more compassionate and loving.
Most importantly, when our channels are open, we are able to stay conscious and open to follow the wisdom and guidance of the spiritual heart. This in turn gives us the courage to take the steps necessary to express the True Nature of our Divine Self. Practicing these physical and mental exercises on a daily basis will lead to a healthier, happier life physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Sharon Marquart is a gifted Certified Personal Coach, inspirationa l speaker and author. For more than 13 years she has share with audiences large and small. http://www.Livingatyes.com She is the author of "Working For God," "Living With Soulful Purpose," and "Creating A Wedding Ministry." Her latest e-book, "9 Steps to a Happier Healthier You" is now available at http://www.livingatyes.com. Her coaching practice is Living at YES!(You Embracing Spirit) where she passionately supports clients in identifying mistaken beliefs and self-limiting thoughts. She coaches them in getting unstuck, setting intentions and living possibilities! Sharon teaches via tele-classes and facilitates tele-groups and e-courses. Her coaching clients are nationwide. Sharon is committed to bringing Metaphysical and Spiritual Truths into everyday language and applying them to everyday life experiences. Sharon is the Director of Spiritual Coaching at the Coaching Academy of North America http://www.spiritualcoachingtraining.com.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Famous Synagogues

In Israel and regions of the Jewish diaspora archaeologists have uncovered many ruins of synagogues from thousands of years ago. The small ruined synagogue at Masada is one of the most well-documented; it dates from the time of the Second Temple. Synagogues have also been discovered in Egypt and on the island of Delos which predate the synagogue at Masada.
The Dura-Europos synagogue (in today's Syria) is considered to be the world's oldest preserved Jewish synagogue.

The oldest active synagogue in Europe is the Alteneushul (Old-New Synagogue) in Prague, Czech Republic, which dates from the 13th century. During Kristallnacht on November 9-10, 1938, the Nazis in Germany and Austria destroyed or significantly damaged 1,574 synagogues, which included many of the greatest synagogues of Europe. Many were also destroyed or fell into disrepair during the Nazis' conquest of Europe, during which many Jewish communities were wiped out.

The Hurva Synagogue, located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, was the main synagogue in the holiest Jewish city from the 16th century to 1948 when it was destroyed by the Arab Legion. The Hurva is currently undergoing reconstruction that, according to architect Nahum Meltzer's plans, should see the building restored to its previous glory. The Ramban Synagogue, founded by Nahmanides in 1267, is the oldest active synagogue in the Old City. See also Synagogues in Jerusalem.

intention statement

I have had doors opening all over the place in my life since I wrote this intention statement.
Below is my intention statement. I am sharing it in hopes that it may be of benefit to others.
I now live a balanced life, full of love, abundance, and miracles, that is flowing and smooth.
I am centered and full of energy and love.
I radiate pure love to everyone around me and it is contagious.
My presence on this planet will positively impact the lives of billions of people.
I now have positive loving relationships with everyone I see and meet.
My very presence shifts people's energy into a positive state.
I attract people into my life that can help me achieve more love, peace, and abundance and for whom I can reciprocate the same.
I am healthy, in great physical shape, and beautiful inside and out.
I am in constant connection with God and I experience almost constant cosmic inner giggles at all the amazing miracles I am experiencing everyday.
I am filled with overflowing gratitude for all the abundance and miracles in my life.
Everything I need comes into my life automatically, without effort.

Southern Buddhism

TheravadaIn addition to the Edicts of Aśoka, Buddhist annals compiled at a later date offer a history of the Aśokan and post-Aśokan period. Among these annals are the Dīpavaṃsa, the Mahāvaṃsa, and the Samantapāsādika of the south Indian Vibhajjavāda (Sanskrit: Vibhajyavāda) saṅgha, beside the Divyāvadāna and the Avadānaśataka from the northern Sarvāstivāda (Pāli: Sabbatthivāda) saṅgha. According to the accounts of the Vibhajjavāda, Aśoka convened a third Buddhist council (c. 250 BCE), whose purpose was to produce a definitive text of the Buddha's words. [citation needed] According to the Theravada account, given in the Dipavamsa and elsewhere, Asoka called this council to sort out doctrinal disputes within the sangha, which these sources say were caused by the infiltration of the sangha by non-buddhists, apparently not actually ordained.

The account goes on to say that the council approved the Kathavatthu, compiled by its president Moggaliputta Tissa, as part of the scriptures. As this text consists of doctrinal debates, apparently with other schools, the account seems to imply the other schools were not proper Buddhists or proper monks. The council also saw the formation of the saṅgha of the Vibhajjavāda ("school of analytical discourse") out of various schools of the Sthaviravāda lineage. [citation needed] Vibhajjavādins claim that the first step to insight has to be achieved by the aspirant's experience, critical investigation, and reasoning instead of by blind faith. [14] This school gradually declined on the Indian subcontinent, but its branch in Sri Lanka and South East Asia continues to survive; this branch of the school is now known as Theravada. The Theravāda school claims that the Sarvāstivada and the Dharmaguptaka schools were rejected by the council, although according to other sources the Dharmaguptaka school is classified as one of the Vibhajyavādin schools. However, these schools became influential in northwestern India and Central Asia and, since their teaching is found among the scriptures preserved by the Mahāyāna schools, they may have had some formative influence on the Mahāyāna.

The Sarvāstivadins have not preserved an independent tradition about the Third Council. it has been argued by some scholars that the council was part of a series of debates and/or disputes resulting in the formation of three main doctrinal schools, Vibhajjavada, Sarvastivada, and Puggalavada, which later were subject to further subdivisions. One such subdivision of the Vibhajjavada was established in Ceylon, and in course of time came to resume the name Theravada (given above in its Sanskrit form Sthaviravada). Its scriptures, the Pali Canon, were written down there in the last century BCE, at what the Theravada usually reckons as the fourth council.It was long believed in Theravāda tradition that the Pāli language is equivalent to Māgadhī, the eastern dialect of the kingdom of Magadha spoken by the Buddha. However, linguistic comparisons of the Edicts of Aśoka and the language of the Pāli canon show strong differences between the Māgadhī of the Edicts (characterized by such changes as r → l, masculine nominative singular of a-stems in -e, etc.) and Pāli.

The greatest similarity to Pāli is found in a dialectal variant of the Edicts written on a rock near Girnar in Gujarat.Theravāda is Pāli for "the Doctrine of the Elders" or "the Ancient Doctrine". Theravāda teaches one to encourage wholesome states of mind, avoid unwholesome states of mind, and to train the mind in meditation. The aim of practice, according to Theravāda Buddhism, is the attainment of freedom from suffering, which is linked with Nirvana, the highest spiritual goal. Theravāda teaches that the experience of suffering is caused by mental defilements like greed, aversion and delusion, while freedom can be attained though putting into practice teachings like the Four Noble Truths and especially the fourth one, the Noble Eightfold Path.The Theravāda school bases its practice and doctrine exclusively on the Pāli Canon and its commentaries. The Sutta collections and Vinaya texts of the Pāli Canon (and the corresponding texts in other versions of the Tripitaka), are generally considered by modern scholars to be the earliest Buddhist literature, and they are accepted as authentic in every branch of Buddhism.Theravāda is the only surviving representative of the historical early Buddhist schools. Theravāda is primarily practiced today in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia as well as small portions of China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bangladesh. It has a growing presence in Europe and America.

Spiritual Thoughts

Spiritual Substance, the Fundamental Basis of the Universe DIVINE MIND is the one and only reality. When we incorporate the ideas that form this Mind into our mind and persevere in those ideas, a mighty strength wells up within us. Then we have a foundation for the spiritual body, the body not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. When the spiritual body is established in consciousness, its strength and power is transmitted to the visible body and to all the things that we touch in the world about us.

Spiritual Consciousness Spiritual approaches to consciousness involve the idea of altered states of consciousness or religious experience. Changes in the state of consciousness or a religious experience can occur spontaneously or as a result of religious observance. It is also maintained by some religions and religious factions that the universe itself is consciousness.

Functions of consciousness We generally agree that our fellow human beings are conscious, and that much simpler life forms, such as bacteria, are not. Many of us attribute consciousness to higher-order animals such as dolphins and primates; academic research is investigating the extent to which animals are conscious. This suggests the hypothesis that consciousness has co-evolved with life, which would require it to have some sort of added value, especially survival value.


Surrounded by Signs and Landmarks

By: Donna Doyon
Take a right. Bear left. Turn left. Straight. Left. Right. Left into the parking lot. I drive to the grocery store without even thinking about it. There are many places I drive to each day or week without giving it a second thought. Sometimes I don't even give it a first thought! But when someone asks me for directions, I have to stop and think. How do I get to the grocery store, my hair salon, or a Toastmasters meeting? What signs and landmarks should someone be looking for if they want to travel to those destinations? When someone asks me for directions I realize how many signs and landmarks are available to guide me. Last summer I was meeting a friend at a nearby bank. Although she was familiar with the road it was on, she didn’t remember seeing this particular bank branch before. So I told her it was located between the Friendly’s and Wendy’s restaurants. She didn’t know where either of these were! I was shocked. I couldn’t think of any other landmarks so I told her to look for the restaurants and she’d find the bank, or find the bank and she’d also find the restaurants. This example reminds me that not everyone sees the same things as they travel down life’s roadways. Some people see the restaurants, others the car dealerships, and still others the public buildings. But just because we don’t see something, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Over the past year I have been contemplating the direction I want my life to travel. While my husband and children will forever be a top priority, I feel a restlessness to do something more—something that fulfills a higher calling from my Creator. But I worry that a new direction might upset the balance of my family and my life. I worry that I may be making a mistake. I worry that I may go in the wrong direction. Yet, all my worry does is remind me that I am suffering from an extreme breakdown in faith. After all, if I am searching for the path my Creator has mapped out for me, why should I worry that He’d lead me away from the things He indicates are important? If He is leading me, why should I worry that I am lost when surely He placed signs and landmarks along the path to show me the way? It is only when I quiet my thoughts and open my heart and mind that I notice the signs and landmarks that appear before me: offhand comments, invitations, new friends. As I begin to look at the world around me, this same world I’ve been living in for so many years, I suddenly see things I’d never noticed in the past: opportunities, relationships, achievements. But just like that bank, these opportunities haven’t gone out of business or moved to a new location.

The signs are there, the doors are open and I must decide if I am ready to become a customer. The choice is always mine. If, like me, you are looking for signs to indicate the direction your life should take, if you are feeling a bit unsettled or too settled into your daily routine, or you want to try something new, exciting, or fulfilling I encourage you to start paying attention to the signs and landmarks you encounter everyday as you travel through life. These signs can tell you where you are, where you are headed, and if you look back, they can even tell you where you’ve been. Then you can decide whether you need to change lanes and head in a new direction or turn into an unfamiliar parking lot. If, like me, you aren’t quite sure what direction you should go in take time to ask for directions. For me, prayerful reflection helps me keep the fears, worry, and lack of faith to a minimum. If you don’t know how to get started or what the next step is, ask for directions or look for signs and landmarks. Signs and landmarks will tell you when you need to change directions or take an exit, when you are nearing your destination, and can even indicate if you are going in the wrong direction. But you need to keep your eyes open and your mind focused. You need to pay attention to the signs and landmarks along your journey.

About The AuthorDonna Doyon helps entrepreneurial-wannabes and starting-to-bes say “goodbye” to self-defeating attitudes and behaviors and “Hello!” to greater success, healthier relationships, and more balanced living. Visit her web site at http://www.donnadoyon.com/ if you want to move forward with your entrepreneurial vision. donna@donnadoyon.com

Adversity Prescription...Inhale Faith Regularly

By: Charlene M. Proctor, Ph.D. Being a social scientist, I have been trained to find comfort in numbers, although I am equally dependent upon faith. In research, if we set a certain standard and can measure whether an idea or a result exists, then we have a construct for at least a theory. In fact, we just might have the basis for a belief. Just last week, I gained further insight on this concept, when I took both my sons out to dinner at our favorite local sushi restaurant. At thirteen and eleven years of age, I was amazed at their worldview, probably as a result of some coursework they’ve been exposed to on the subject of world religions. Jason, a critical thinker at thirteen, told me that society feels the need to construct belief systems – and there is not necessarily any proof behind such beliefs. He argued that humans have a natural need to do this in order to explain what cannot be explained. Without proof, he said, why should he subscribe to anything he can’t see, especially God? I was further alarmed when Vaughn chimed in, putting in his two cents about why he’s just not sure there is a God, Goddess, or a higher power for that matter. I have never forced them to believe anything because beliefs are something we construct as a result of our own life experiences. Their life experience will be totally different than mine. Although I can offer a foundation and continually teach them how spirit infiltrates our every move, I can’t fill in the blanks for them.

That, they must do on their own. Not to be rattled off my wise, mother-track, I realized the boys are just beginning to question the world at large. They also have a limited view because they have experienced minimal adversity, failure, loss and grief in life – some, but not enough to know how important it is to believe there is a reason for it. By the time we are 40, our adversity resumé is quite long – we’ve got a vast inventory under our belts in multiple categories. We need to believe and depend upon reasons we can’t fully explain – life seems to lead us that way in order to cope.

As we continued to have a spontaneous discussion about belief systems, I realized that, at their tender ages, they have already been indoctrinated into the comfort level a Cartesian viewpoint provides – if we don’t see it, it doesn’t exist. How did this happen, I wondered? Do our children have so much difficulty in believing and having faith because somehow physical evidence must confirm the constructs of parental belief systems? Or do they simply feel unblemished by life’s circumstances and secure enough not to feel the need to rely on faith? I spent the rest of my wakame salad and miso soup time explaining that just because we don’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. We know love exists, even though we cannot see it. What would the world be like without love? Well then, they replied, then let’s conduct some focus groups and find out what percentage of people believe in love and see if it’s statistically significant.

Finding love, or proving the existence of love, by taking a poll first? We’ve done a very good job, I silently thought, of indoctrinating our kids into a world replete with an over-estimated value of proof. Overall, I think we need a little less science and a lot more faith, especially when it comes to the subject of life’s adversity. Granted, faith sometimes does not give us the level of certainty we want to accept bad circumstances. It’d be awfully nice if we’d get a progress report at the day’s end that explained just what the heck was going on. Some days we get an unusually large dose of the nasties. But the last I checked, nobody was getting any statistical feedback in terms our soul journey g.p.a. Our scores, in terms of our progress, are greatly determined by our own self-evaluations. The ‘knowing why’ of life’s circumstances can’t necessarily be part of the formula because if we knew everything, the reason for everything, there would be no point in the dance. We all agree - there doesn’t seem to be any consolation in not knowing. And as a researcher, it does go against my nature to come up empty handed in the knowing category - not knowing, after a really good analysis, just doesn’t seem acceptable.

Seems like we missed something along the way or left our part of the equation. Is it a lack of insight? It’s because we don’t always cast our net wide enough about our spiritual development. Perhaps we evolve into faith because we can’t make meaning without it after enough living has gone by. Proof soothes mainly because most of us are limited to our five senses –which serve as our conceptual parameters. Although some are gifted to extend past those limitations in distant realms, or have had extraordinary psychic experiences that defy current logic, the rest of us need pure faith to keep us on track. Never diminish the value of faith. You’ll find less energy spent on asking ‘why’ and surrender to the ‘not knowing’ more readily.

Find a way to develop unshakable faith in the Divine – it’s a participative partnership based upon trust you’ll need.
About The AuthorCharlene M. Proctor, Ph.D., author of Let Your Goddess Grow! 7 Spiritual Lessons on Female Power and Positive Thinking and The Women’s Book of Empowerment: 323 Affirmations that Change Everyday Problems into Moments of Potential (2005) provides guidance through everyday complexity with female imagery and positive thinking. Focusing on the Divine Self, and setting a mental equivalent to institute positive change on earth, has always provided the infrastructure to Charlene’s work as a researcher and simulation architect. She is deeply committed to helping others along their soul journey. Please visit www.thegoddessnetwork.net and register for her many self-help and inspirational programs, which include The Divine Woman, a free monthly newsletter! tgn@thegoddessnetwork.net

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Fate of theThree Children, Lúcia Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto

Lúcia Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto in 1917Lúcia reported seeing the Virgin again in 1925 at the Dorothean convent at Pontevedra, Galicia (Spain). This time, she said she was asked to convey the message of the First Saturday Devotions. A subsequent vision of the Christ Child Himself reiterated this request, by her account.

Lúcia was transferred to another convent in Tui or Tuy, Galicia in 1928. In 1929, Lúcia reported that Mary returned and repeated her request for the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.

Sister Lúcia reportedly saw Mary in private visions periodically throughout her life. Most significant was the apparition in Rianjo, Galicia in 1931, in which Sister Lúcia said that Jesus visited her, taught her two prayers, and delivered a message to give to the hierarchy of the Church.

In 1947, Sister Lúcia left the Dorothean order and joined the Carmelite order in a convent in Coimbra, Portugal. Lúcia died on February 13, 2005, at the age of 97. After her death, the Vatican, specifically Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (at that time, still head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) ordered her cell sealed off. It is believed this was because Sister Lúcia had continued to receive more revelations, and they wished to censor them, or perhaps simply to examine them in the course of proceedings for Lúcia's canonization.

Prophecy in Religion

In many religions, gods or other supernatural agents are thought to sometimes provide prophecies to certain individuals, sometimes known as prophets, by dreams or visions. The Tanakh, the Old Testament of the Bible, contains prophecies from various Hebrew prophets who spoke judgement upon the Israelites, foretold of their impending trials, tribulations, and then promised divine blessings if the Hebrews repented from their evil ways. The Book of Revelation in the New Testament is accepted by many Christians as a prophecy that includes divine promises of an anointed messiah or Christ that would lead the people in war and personally issue judgement at the end times and Armageddon (see Eschatology, Bible prophecy and "End of the World").

Christians believe that Jesus fulfilled many of the promises spoken in Old Testament prophecy, including that he would be called 'son of God', and that he will return in the future and fulfill other prophecies such as those in the Book of Revelation. In the New Testament, many Christians see most of Jesus' life as God speaking through Jesus' words and deeds.

More on Prophecy In Religion


The Rosary (from Latin rosarium, "Rose Garden"), is a traditional popular devotion in the Roman Catholic Church. The term denotes both a set of prayer beads and a system of set prayers to be said as the beads are told. The Rosary combines vocal (or silent) prayer and meditation centered around sequences of reciting the Lord's Prayer followed by ten recitations of the "Hail Mary" prayer and a single recitation of "Glory Be to the Father"; each of these sequences is known as a decade.

Until the recent addition of five additional Mysteries by Pope John Paul II, the Rosary had been prayed in three parts of five Mysteries assigned throughout the week. Today the Rosary can be prayed in four parts, one part each day, with the "Mysteries" (which are meditated or contemplated on during the prayers) being rotated daily.

What distinguishes the Rosary from other forms of prayer is that, along with the vocal prayers, it includes a series of meditations. Each decade of the Rosary is said while meditating on one of the "Mysteries" of redemption. These mysteries originated in the 15th century, and while there has been some disagreement on them (the final mystery is sometimes the Last Judgment) the earliest sets bear a remarkable resemblance to those still used.

Christian Prayer

Prayer in Abrahamic Religions
Prayer in the Bible
In the common Bible of the Abrahamic religions, various forms of prayer appear; the most common forms being petition, thanksgiving and worship. In many ways petition is the simplest form of prayer. Some have termed this the "social approach" to prayer. In this view, a person appeals to God in prayer, and asks for his or her needs to be fulfilled; God listens to prayer, and chooses to answer directly, indirectly or not at all. This is one of the primary approaches to prayer, but by no means the only one, found in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, most of the Church writings, and in rabbinic literature such as the Talmud.
See also: Tanakh, New Testament, Prayer in the Hebrew Bible & Prayer in the New Testament
Jewish Prayer
Jews pray three times a day, or more on special days, such as the Shabbat and Jewish holidays. The siddur is the prayerbook used by Jews the world over, containing a set order of daily prayers. Jewish prayer is usually described as having two aspects: kavanah (intention) and keva (the ritualistic, structured elements).
The most important Jewish prayers are the Shema Yisrael ("Hear O Israel") and the Amidah ("the standing prayer").
Jews consider the best form of prayer is to pray together, for example you would need 10 people (minyan) to pray in synagogue. They believe the more people, the stronger the connection.

18th c. Byzantine-style bronze panagia from Jerusalem, showing the Virgin Mary in the orans prayer posture.Christian prayers are very varied. They can be completely spontaneous, or read entirely from a text, like the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. Probably the most common and universal prayer among Christians is the Lord's Prayer which is how Jesus told his disciples to pray.

Christians pray to God (without specifying a person of the Trinity); or to the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit (or some combination of them). Some Christians (e.g., Catholics, Orthodox) will also ask the righteous in heaven and "in Christ," such as Virgin Mary or other saints to intercede by praying on their behalf. (Intercession of saints)
It is customary among Protestants the world over to end prayers with "In Jesus' Name, Amen" or "In the name of Christ, Amen". Other formulaic closures include "through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever", and "in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit". However, the most commonly used closure in Christianity is simply "Amen" (from a Hebrew adverb used as a statement of affirmation or agreement).
There is also the form of prayer called hesychast which is a repetitious type of prayer for the purpose of meditation. In the Western or Latin Rite of Catholic Church, probably the most common is the Rosary; In the Eastern Church (the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church), the Jesus Prayer.
Prayers said by Christians are described in the article on Prayer in Christianity.
Some modalities of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) employ prayer. A survey released in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, found that in 2002, 43% of Americans pray for their own health, 24% pray for others health, and 10% participate in a prayer group for their own health.

Christian Science Prayer
Christian Science teaches that prayer is a spiritualization of thought or an understanding of God and of the nature of the underlying spiritual creation. Adherents believe that this can result in healing, by bringing spiritual reality (the "Kingdom of Heaven" in Biblical terms) into clearer focus in the human scene. The world as it appears to the senses is regarded as a distorted version of the world of spiritual ideas: the latter is the only true reality. Prayer can heal the distortion. Christian Scientists believe that prayer does not change the spiritual creation but gives a clearer view of it, and the result appears in the human scene as healing: the human picture adjusts to coincide more nearly with the divine reality. Prayer works through love: the recognition of God's creation as spiritual, intact and inherently lovable.

Islamic Prayer
Muslims praying at the Hajj, Mecca.Main article: Salat
Muslims pray a brief ritualistic prayer called salat or salah in Arabic, facing the Kaaba in Mecca, five times a day. The "call for prayer" (adhan or azaan), where the muezzin calls for all the followers to stand together for the prayer . There are also many standard duas or supplications, also in Arabic, to be recited at various times, e.g. for one's parents, after salah, before eating. Muslims may also say dua in their own words and languages for any issue they wish to communicate with God in the hope that God will answer their prayers.

Bahá'í Prayer
Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, and `Abdu'l-Bahá have revealed many prayers for general use, and some for specific occasions, including for unity, detachment, spiritual upliftment, and healing among others. Bahá'ís are also required to recite each day one of three obligatory prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. The believers have been enjoined to face in the direction of the Qiblih when reciting their Obligatory Prayer. The longest obligatory prayer may be recited at any time during the day; another, of medium length, is recited once in the morning, once at midday, and once in the evening; and the shortest can be recited anytime between noon and sunset. This is the text of the short prayer: I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Bahá'ís also read from and meditate on the scriptures every morning and evening.

Neopagan Prayers
Many modern Neopagans pray to various gods. The most commonly worshiped and prayed to gods are those of Pre-Christian Europe, such as Celtic, Norse or Graeco-Roman gods. Prayer can vary from sect to sect, and with some (such as Wicca) prayer may also be associated with ritual magick.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rejection or limitation of omnipotence

Some monotheists reject the view that God is or could be omnipotent, or take the view that, by choosing to create creatures with freewill, God has chosen to limit divine omnipotence. In Conservative and Reform Judaism, and some movements within Protestant Christianity, including process theology and open theism, God is said to act in the world through persuasion, and not by coercion (for open theism, this is a matter of choice--God could act miraculously, and perhaps on occasion does so--while for process theism it is a matter of necessity--creatures have inherent powers that God cannot, even in principle, override). God is manifest in the world through inspiration and the creation of possibility, not necessarily by miracles or violations of the laws of nature.

The rejection of omnipotence often follows from either philosophical or scriptural considerations, discussed below.

Philosophical groundsProcess theology rejects unlimited omnipotence on a philosophical basis, arguing that omnipotence as classically understood would be less than perfect, and is therefore incompatible with the idea of a perfect God.
The idea is grounded in Plato's oft-overlooked statement that "Being is power."
My notion would be, that anything which possesses any sort of power to affect another, or to be affected by another, if only for a single moment, however trifling the cause and however slight the effect, has real existence; and I hold that the definition of being is simply power
– Plato, 247E

From this premise, Charles Hartshorne argues further that:
Power is influence, and perfect power is perfect influence ... power must be exercised upon something, at least if by power we mean influence, control; but the something controlled cannot be absolutely inert, since the merely passive, that which has no active tendency of its own, is nothing; yet if the something acted upon is itself partly active, then there must be some resistance, however slight, to the "absolute" power, and how can power which is resisted be absolute?

– Hartshorne, 89
The argument can be stated as follows:
1) If a being exists, then it must have some active tendency 2) If beings have some active tendency, then they have some power to resist God 3) If beings have the power to resist God, then God does not have absolute power Thus, if God does not have absolute power, God must therefore embody some of the characteristics of power, and some of the characteristics of persuasion. This view is known as dipolar theism.

The most popular works espousing this point are from Harold Kushner (in Judaism). The need for a modified view of omnipotence was also articulated by Alfred North Whitehead in the early 20th century and expanded upon by the aforementioned philosopher Charles Hartshorne. Hartshorne proceeded within the context of the theological system known as process theology.


On some crucifixes a skull and crossbones are shown below the corpus, referring to Golgotha (Calvary), the site at which Jesus was crucified--"the place of the skull." It was probably called "Golgotha" because it was a burial-place, or possibly because of a legend that the place of Jesus' crucifixion was also the burial place of Adam.

The standard, four-pointed Latin crucifix consists of an upright stand and a crosspiece to which the sufferer's arms were nailed. The Eastern Orthodox crucifix includes two additional crossbars: the shorter nameplate, to which INRI was affixed; and the shorter stipes, to which the feet were nailed, which is angled upward toward penitent thief St. Dismas (to the viewer's left) and downward toward impenitent thief Gestas (to the viewer's right). It is thus eight-pointed. The corpora of Eastern Orthodox crucifixes tend to be two-dimensional icons that show Jesus as already dead, as opposed to the depictions of the still-suffering Jesus that can be found in some other Churches.

Some denominations of Christianity prefer to depict the cross without the corpus. This may be to emphasize the resurrection, or because the image of Christ's death is too intense, or because they believe that its inclusion would constitute idolatry. Some portray the body of Jesus on the cross to illustrate that Jesus has not yet risen.

A third type of depiction of the body on the cross is what might be called a "resurrection cross" or "resifix" depicting a triumphant risen Christ (clothed in robes, rather than stripped as for his execution) with arms raised, appearing to rise up from the cross, sometimes accompanied by "rays of light."

Contrasting views of the Godhead

The nature of the Godhead is defined differently among different Christian denominations. In most branches of Christianity, including Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism, trinitarianism prevails and the Godhead is viewed as the Holy Trinity, and so the word Godhead is often used interchangeably with Trinity.

Contrasting views of the Godhead include the version of tritheism accepted by some denominations of Mormonism, the unitarianism of the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Monotheistic Modalism of the Oneness Pentecostals, the Binitarianism of some Seventh day Church of God groups, the Dualism of Gnosticism, and various other nontrinitarian views of denominations such as the Church of Christ, Scientist, the Unification Church, and Unitarian Universalism.

Israelite Father God

In the monotheistic Israelite religion, God is called the "Father" with a unique sense of familiarity. God is considered "Father" because he created (and in a sense "fathered") the world. He also stands as the patriarchal law-giver, and the one who through covenant maintains a special father-child relationship with the people, giving them the Shabbat, stewardship of his oracles, and a unique heritage in the things of God, calling Israel "his first-born son". The Jewish God is also attributed the fatherly role of protector: he is called the Father of the poor, of the orphan and the widow, as their protector and guarantor of justice. He is also called the Father of the king, as a teacher and helper over the judge of Israel.

Trinitarianism and other Christian conceptions

To trinitarian Christians (which since post-apostolic times has represented the vast Christian majority), God the Father is not at all a separate god from the Son (of whom Jesus is the incarnation) and the Holy Spirit, the other members of the Christian Godhead. Trinitarian Christians describe these three persons as a Trinity. This means that they always exist as three distinct "persons" (Greek hypostases), but they are one God, each having full identity as God himself (a single "substance"), a single "divine nature" and power, and a single "divine will". Theologian Alex Nicholson alluded Trinitarianism to how water can be a liquid, a solid (ice) and a gas, but maintain the same elemental properties.

Similar to the way that the Tritarian God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (different in context) and essentially the same being.
Other Christians, nonetheless, held alternative ideas about the Trinity. A handful have described the Father, Son and Spirit as each a distinct, eternally existent being (tritheism), or as a different "manifestation" of a single being (modalism). Some have theorized that the relationship of Father and Son began at some point probably outside of normal "history" (Arianism); and others have believed that God became a Father when he uttered his creating Λογος ("logos" or "word"), who is both a principle of order and a living being to whom God bears the relationship as Father (some gnostics). Others found strong affinity with traditional pagan ideas of a savior or hero who is begotten by deity, an idea of the Father similar to Mithraism or the cult of the Roman emperor.

For many Christians, the person of God the Father is the ultimate, and on occasion the exclusive addressee of prayer, often in the name of Jesus Christ. The Lord's Prayer, for example, begins, "Our Father who art in Heaven...."
In the New Testament, God the Father has a special role in his relationship with the person of the Son, where Jesus is believed to be his Son and his heir (Hebrews 1:2-5). According to the Nicene Creed, the Son (Jesus Christ) is "eternally begotten of the Father", indicating that their divine Father-Son relationship is not tied to an event within time or human history. See Christology. The Bible refers to Christ as the beginning of God's creation, and hence as God's "firstborn."
In Eastern Orthodox theology, God the Father is the "source" or "origin" of both the Son and the Holy Spirit; in Western theology, all three hypostases or persons have their origin in the divine nature instead. The Cappadocian Fathers used this Eastern Orthodox monarchian understanding to explain why trinitarianism is not tritheism: "God is one because the Father is one," said Basil the Great in the fourth century. In the eighth century, John of Damascus wrote at greater length about the Father's role:

Whatsoever the Son has from the Father, the Spirit also has, including His very being. And if the Father does not exist, then neither does the Son and the Spirit; and if the Father does not have something, then neither has the Son or the Spirit. Furthermore, because of the Father, that is, because the Father is, the Son and the Spirit are; and because of the Father, the Son and the Spirit have everything that they have.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Synoptic Gospels of Jesus

According to the list occurring in each of the Synoptic Gospels (Mark 3:13-19, Matthew 10:1-4, Luke 6:12-16), the Twelve chosen by Jesus near the beginning of his ministry, those whom also He named Apostles, were:
Simon: called Peter (Grk. petros, petra; Aram. kef; Engl. rock) by Jesus, also known as Simon bar Jonah and Simon bar Jochanan (Aram.) and earlier (Pauline Epistles were written first) Cephas (Aram.) by Paul of Tarsus and Simon Peter, a fisherman from Bethsaida "of Galilee" (John 1:44; cf. 12:21)
Andrew: brother of Peter, a Bethsaida fisherman and disciple of John the Baptist, and also the First-Called Apostle
James and John: sons of Zebedee, called by Jesus Boanerges (an Aramaic name explained in Mk 3:17 as "Sons of Thunder")
Philip: from Bethsaida "of Galilee" (John 1:44, 12:21)
Bartholomew: in Aramaic "bar-Talemai?", "son of Talemai" or from Ptolemais, some identify with Nathanael
Thomas: also known as Judas Thomas Didymus - Aramaic T'oma' = twin, and Greek Didymous = twin
James: commonly identified with James the Less and sometimes with James, brother of Jesus
Matthew: the tax collector, some identify with Levi son of Alphaeus
Simon the Canaanite: called in Luke and Acts "Simon the Zealot", some identify with Simeon of Jerusalem
Judas Iscariot: the name Iscariot may refer to the Judaean towns of Kerioth or to the sicarii (Jewish nationalist insurrectionists), or to Issachar;
He was replaced as an apostle in Acts by Matthias
The identity of the other apostle of the twelve, traditionally called St. Jude, varies between the Synoptic Gospels and also between ancient manuscripts of each gospel:
Mark names him as Thaddaeus
Some manuscripts of Matthew also identify him as Thaddeus
Some manuscripts of Matthew name him as Lebbaeus
Some manuscripts of Matthew name him as Judas the Zealot
Luke names him as Judas, son of James or in the KJV: "Judas the brother of James" Luke 6:16
The Gospel of John, unlike the Synoptic Gospels, does not offer a formal list of apostles, but does refer to the Twelve in 6:67, 6:70, and 6:71. The following nine apostles are identified by name:
Andrew (identified as Peter's brother)
the sons of Zebedee (plural form implies at least two apostles)
Thomas (also called Didymus (11:16, 20:24, 21:2))
Judas Iscariot
Judas (not Iscariot) (14:22)

Baptism of Jesus

In the synoptic gospels, Jesus is baptised by John the Baptist. This event is the basis[citation needed] of the Christian rite of baptism. In these accounts, John the Baptist preached repentence and baptism for the forgivness of sins. Jesus comes to the Jordan River and is baptised there by John. After the baptism occurs the heavens open, the holy spirit formed as a dove a dove descends from heaven, and God pronounces that Jesus is his son god says 'this is my son whom i am well pleased!'. Jesus then goes into the wilderness where the devil tempts him, and when he returns he begins his ministry. In the gospel of John, John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the Son of God but doesn't baptize him.

Most Christian groups view the baptism of Jesus as an important event, and historically it has caused much debate on the issue of Christology. In Roman Catholicism, the baptism of Jesus is one of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

Jesus' baptism is commemorated on a day between 7 and 13 January in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and some other western denominations


There was a certain King who gave a great feast upon the occasion of his son's wedding. And he sent out his servants to bring in those that had been invited, but they would not come. Then he sent forth other servants, saying, "Tell them which were bidden, 'Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come unto the feast.'" But they made light of the message and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his warehouse; others took the servants and slew them.

When the King heard what had been done, he was very angry, and sent out his army to destroy the murderers, and burn up their city. Then said he to the servants, "The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and all ye shall find, bid them come to the marriage." So they gathered together as many as they could find. And upon each one, as he entered the house, was put a beautiful marriage garment, which the King had prepared. But when the people were all seated, and the King had entered the house, he saw there a man that had not on a wedding garment, and he said unto him, "Friend, how camest thou in hither without a wedding garment?"

And the man was speechless, for the garment had been offered to him at first, but he had refused it. Then said the King to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away and cast him into outer darkness."

In this parable, the King means God, who gave the feast for His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who were first asked were the Jews, who refused to believe in Christ. Those who were afterwards brought in, signify the people who have since listened to His Word, and believed in Him. The one without the wedding garment is any one that pretends to accept the invitation to be one of God's people, but in his heart does not believe in Christ.

Back To Stories from the New Testament

The Rich Man and the Beggar Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31 19There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

20And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

21And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

23And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

6And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

27Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:

28For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

29Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

30And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

31And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Parable of the Growing Seed

Mark 4: 26-29And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. The Parable of the Growing Seed is a parable found in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 4:26-29) and partly in that of Thomas (Thomas 21d).

Its fragmentary presence in Thomas makes it plausible for it to have ultimately derived from the Q Gospel, though it is unusual for it not to also be present in either the Gospel of Matthew or that of Luke.In the parable, Jesus is described as arguing that one scatters seeds on the ground, they sprout and grow, but, before the science of botany developed, it was unknown how they did so. Yet, although no heed is paid to their actual growth, unless modern scientific farming is involved, as soon as the grain ripen it is cut down, because the harvest has come.

The Gospel of Thomas only contains the last part of this - the cutting down - the initial part is only implied. .The examples and perspective in this article or section may not include all significant viewpoints.Please improve the article or discuss the issue on the talk page.Most scholars interpret the parable as meaning that one cannot, and should not try to, understand the process of spiritual growth, any more than other obscure and complex processes, though the end results themselves are rewarding. Most Evangelical Christians have similar opinions, but additionally interpret the parable in a similar manner to Dr R.A. Cole (in New Bible Commentary) - that one need not understand spiritual growth in order to share it

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ministry of Jesus, Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Plain, Twelve Apostles, and Transfiguration of JesusSermon on the Mount, Carl Heinrich Bloch, 19th c.The Gospels state that Jesus, as Messiah, was sent to "give his life as a ransom for many" and "preach the good news of the Kingdom of God." Over the course of his ministry, Jesus is said to have performed various miracles, including healings, exorcisms, walking on water, turning water into wine, and raising several people, such as Lazarus, from the dead (John 11:1–44).Judæa and Galilee at the time of JesusThe Gospel of John describes three different passover feasts over the course of Jesus' ministry.

This implies that Jesus preached for a period of three years, although some interpretations of the Synoptic Gospels suggest a span of only one year. The focus of his ministry was toward his closest adherents, the Twelve Apostles, though many of his followers were considered disciples. Jesus led what many believe to have been an apocalyptic following. He preached that the end of the current world would come unexpectedly; as such, he called on his followers to be ever alert and faithful. Jesus also taught the necessity of repentance and the danger of damnation (Luke 13:1-5, Luke 12:1-5).At the height of his ministry, Jesus attracted huge crowds numbering in the thousands, primarily in the areas of Galilee and Perea (in modern-day Israel and Jordan respectively). Some of Jesus' most famous teachings come from the Sermon on the Mount, which contained the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer. Jesus often employed parables, such as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and the Parable of the Sower. His teachings centered around unconditional self-sacrificing God-like love for God and for all people.

During his sermons, he preached about service and humility, the forgiveness of sin, faith, turning the other cheek, love for one's enemies as well as friends, and the need to follow the spirit of the law in addition to the letter.Jesus often met with society's outcasts, such as the publican (Imperial tax collectors who were despised for extorting money), including the apostle Matthew; when the Pharisees objected to Jesus' meeting with sinners rather than the righteous, Jesus replied that it was the sick who need a physician, not the healthy (Matthew 9:9–13). According to Luke and John, Jesus also made efforts to extend his ministry to the Samaritans, who followed a different form of the Israelite religion.

This is reflected in his preaching to the Samaritans of Sychar, resulting in their conversion (John 4:1–42).According to the synoptic gospels, Jesus led three of his apostles - Peter, John, and James - to the top of a mountain to pray. While there, he was transfigured before them, his face shining like the sun and his clothes brilliant white; Elijah and Moses appeared adjacent to him. A bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the sky said, "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased." The gospels also state that toward the end of his ministry, Jesus began to warn his disciples of his future death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21-28).

Genealogy of Jesus Jesus and Mary

: Black Madonna of CzęstochowaOf the four gospels, only Matthew and Luke give accounts of Jesus' genealogy. The accounts in the two gospels are substantially different, and various theories have been proposed to explain the discrepancies (see Genealogy of Jesus). Both accounts, however, trace his line back to King David and from there to Abraham. These lists are identical between Abraham and David, but they differ between David and Joseph. Matthew starts with Solomon and proceeds through the kings of Judah to the last king, Jeconiah. After Jeconiah, the line of kings terminated when Babylon conquered Judah.

Thus, Matthew shows that Jesus is the legal heir to the throne of Israel. Luke's genealogy is longer than Matthew's; it goes back to Adam and provides more names between David and Jesus.Joseph appears only in descriptions of Jesus' childhood. John's account of Jesus commending Mary into the care of the beloved disciple during his crucifixion (John 19:25–27) suggests that Joseph had died by the time of Jesus' ministry. The New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, and Galatians tell of Jesus' relatives, including possible brothers and sisters. The Greek word adelphos in these verses, often translated as brother, can refer to any familial relation, and most Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians translate the word as kinsman or cousin in this context (see Perpetual virginity of Mary).

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spiritual ministry ideals

Religion of Rationality Ordains Ministers for Free

by: Crash Winfield
The Temple of Earth has recently announced that it will ordain anyone online (at www.templeofearth.com ) for free. Of course, this is nothing new. Many online religious organizations offer free ordination. But the Temple of Earth aims to provide something qualitatively different from the others. "The TOE," as it is affectionately referred to by its adherents, is "The World's First Religion of Reason." That is, it aims to promote rationality and a type of humanist philosophy which embraces spiritual notions but stops short at offering pat explanations about life, the universe and everything. "This is not atheism," asserts the Deacon of the Temple, "We are not saying that there is no God. But the idea of God is so abstract and means so many things to so many people that questions about it are meaningless. Many people say God is nature. In that case, studying the laws of nature would be the same as trying to understand God. And this is what we do. But why call it God?

We just call it nature." According to the website, religious organizations have received untold benefits from their status as religions while rationalists have had no effective way to band together to offer support, camaraderie and spiritual inspiration. Which begs the question: can one be both rational and spiritual? The TOE says yes. "The great renaissance philosophers and scholars were equal parts scientist and artist," points out the Deacon, "They saw the spirituality inherent in systems. By which I mean the mystery of patterns beyond our present reckoning. The difference between a rationalist and a religionist is that the rationalist is actively trying to explore and make sense of those patterns. The religionist claims to have it pretty much figured out already. For this our society gives them special dispensation. We think that's unfair." To become ordained, one must merely visit the website, provide essential details: name, date and the desired religious title. Seconds later a colorful certificate appears announcing the ordination. From there it's up to the newly-ordained minister to decide what he or she wants to do with it. Many states will allow ministers of any religion to officiate wedding ceremonies. Resources on the TOE website provide suggestions on how to form a "TOE ring" - essentially a private congregation of like-minded ministers. Other certificates with the Temple seal are available for download - certificates of friendship, love, baby-naming and even pet-naming among them. They are all free. "We're not doing this for financial gain but to promote a rationality in the world," says the Deacon, "One could argue that every single atrocity that occurs among human beings is a direct result of the exaltation of irrationality. If we can encourage people to venerate rational thinking in the same way others do with religion, it could have a real, lasting and positive effect on the world." When questioned about atrocities resulting from the excesses of science, the Deacon replies, "Science is not to blame for the bad things people do.

Science provides pure information. It is up to us how we interpret and what we do with that information. The more rational we are, the better our choices will be." And what about feeling and intuition? According to the Temple of Earth these are crucial for human creativity, but reason must always be the final arbiter of truth. "Intuition without reason is the genesis of genocide," The Deacon insists. And love? Surely there's no place for love in a religion of rationality. But the Deacon replies, "On the contrary. Love is the most rational thing in the world. Without each other we are nothing. Love, affinity, friendship - this is the essence of humanity. Love is arguably what gave rise to language and the intellect and culture in the first place. The TOE is a religion of love as much as it is a religion of reason. And we avow that reason can help us love and embrace more of humanity than any ideology or traditional religion ever could." According to the Deacon a great deal of interest has been expressed and although he won't divulge how many ministers have already been ordained, he replies with a smile, "The response has been phenomenal."

About The AuthorCrash Winfield is a frequent contributor to many international magazines and journals.

What is a negro spiritual

Spirituals were often expressions of religious faith, although they may also have served as socio-political protests veiled as assimilation to white, American culture. They were originated by enslaved Africans in the United States. Slavery was introduced to the European colonies in 1619, and enslaved people largely replaced indentured servants as an economic labor force during the 17th century. This labor force would remain in bondage for the entire 18th century and much of the 19th century. They were released with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by United States Secretary of State William Henry Seward on December 18, 1865. The Amendment was passed by Congress January 31, 1865, and was ratified by 27 of the then 36 states.

During slavery in the United States, there were negro spiritual efforts to de-Africanize the captive Black workforce. Enslaved people were forbidden to speak their native languages, to play drums, or practice their mostly Animist and Muslim faiths. They were urged to become Christians and often forced to identify as Christians by slavemasters, who used Christianity as a tool of control.

What is a Negro Spiritual Mean

Scholars debate the degree to which Christianity among enslaved Africans in the U.S. was a syncretic faith, but there is no doubt Blacks suffused their practice of religion with African religious beliefs and customs. The imprint of Africa was evident in the oral and musical traditions in the style and cadence of liturgical delivery, and in call and response in song and sermon; in the use of blue notes and syncopation in musical expression and dance styles; in the sometimes exuberant, but always very personal and democratic, self-expression through testifying, possession and speaking in tongues; and in full-immersion baptism. In comparison with the worship style of whites, Africanized Christianity was often lively, loud and spontaneous.

It was not long before further restrictions were placed on the religious expression of slaves. Rows of benches in places of worship discouraged congregants from spontaneously jumping to their feet and dancing. The use of musical instruments of any kind often was forbidden, and slaves were ordered to desist from the "paganism" of the practice of spiritual possession. Nonetheless, the Christian principles that teach those who suffer on earth hold a special place with God in heaven undoubtedly spoke to the enslaved who saw this as hope and could certainly relate to the suffering of Jesus. For this reason many slaves genuinely embraced Christianity.
Because they were unable to express themselves freely in ways that were spiritually meaningful to them, enslaved Africans often held secret religious services. During these “camp meetings” and “bush meetings,” worshippers were free to engage in African religious rituals such as spiritual possession, speaking in tongues and shuffling in counterclockwise ring shouts to communal shouts and chants. It was there also that enslaved Africans further crafted the impromptu musical expression of field songs into the so-called "line signing" and intricate, multi-part harmonies of struggle and overcoming, faith, forbearance and hope that have come to be known as "Negro Spirituals."

While slaveowners used Christianity to teach enslaved Africans to be long-suffering, forgiving and obedient to their masters, as practiced by the enslaved, it became a kind of liberation theology. The story of Moses and The Exodus of the "children of Israel" and the idea of an Old Testament God who struck down the enemies of His "chosen people" resonated deeply with the enslaved ("He's a battleaxe in time of war and a shelter in a time of storm"). In Black hands and hearts, Christian theology became an instrument of negro spirituality.

So, too, in many instances did the spirituals themselves. Spirituals sometimes provided comfort and eased the boredom of daily tasks, but above all, they were an expression of spiritual devotion and a yearning for freedom from bondage. In song, lyrics about the Exodus were a metaphor for freedom from enslavement. Songs like "Steal Away (to Jesus)", or "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" raised unexpectedly in a dusty field, or sung softly in the dark of night, signalled that the coast was clear and the time to escape had come. The River Jordan became the Ohio River, or the Mississippi, or another body of water that had to be crossed on the journey to freedom. “Wade in the Water” contained explicit instructions to fugitive slaves on how to avoid capture and the route to take to successfully make their way to freedom. Leaving dry land and taking to the water was a common strategy to throw pursuing bloodhounds off one's trail. “The Gospel Train”, and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” all contained veiled references to the Underground Railroad, and Follow the Drinking Gourd contained a coded map to the Underground Railroad. The title itself was an Africanized reference to the Big Dipper, which pointed the way to the North Star and freedom.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is one of the best known spirituals:
(Refrain) Swing low, sweet chariot, Coming for to carry me home, Swing low, sweet chariot, Coming for to carry me home. I looked over Jordan, and what did I see? Coming for to carry me home, A band of angels coming after me, Coming for to carry me home. (Refrain) If you get there before I do, Coming for to carry me home, Tell all my friends I’m coming, too. Coming for to carry me home. (Refrain) I’m sometimes up and sometimes down, Coming for to carry me home, But still my soul feels heavenly bound, Coming for to carry me home. (Refrain) The brightest day that I can say, Coming for to carry me home, When Jesus washed my sins away, Coming for to carry me home. (Refrain) - Traditional In the 1850s, Reverend Alexander Reid, superintendent of the Spencer Academy in the old Choctaw Nation, hired some enslaved Africans from the Indians for some work around the school. He heard two of them, "Uncle Wallace" and "Aunt Minerva" Willis, singing religious songs they had composed. Among these songs were Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Steal Away to Jesus, The Angels are Coming, I'm a Rolling, and Roll Jordan Roll. Later, Reid, who left Indian Territory at the beginning of the Civil War, attended a musical program put on by a group of Negro singers from Fisk University. Although they were singing mostly popular music of the day, Reid thought the songs he remembered from his time in the Choctaw Nation would be appropriate. He and his wife transcribed the songs of the Willises as they remembered them and sent them to Fisk University. The Jubilee Singers put on their first performance singing the old captive's songs at a religious conference in 1871. The songs were first published in 1872 in a book titled Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University, by Thomas F. Steward. Later these religious songs became known as "Negro spirituals" to distinguish this music from the spiritual music of other peoples. Wallace Willis died in 1883 or 84.