Posts Tagged ‘Faith’


 What follows below is my speaking notes from this morning, the pdf is just below for the power point slides noted in the bolded brackets throughout.

Men’s Prayer Breakfast, Centennial Presbyterian Church January 26, 2019 

mens prayer breakfast january 2019

Good Morning. We are exploring some aspects this morning of mental health and belonging, as was advertised it is a personal and professional faith journey. In our time this morning we are by no means going to touch upon the entire spectrum of mental health concerns, diagnosis, disorders and spectrums out there. I am going to share a bit about my journey, and the ones that have touched upon me the most. Now I am sure you are probably asking well who is this guy? 

That’s a good question, short answer in my name is Ty, and I have lived in Rundle my whole life, my goal in life is simple to make my own corner of the world a better place. I am currently travelling through the echoes of a life spent fighting back the darkness of our world, and creating safe courageous space for all to belong, but more on that piece later. I am a pilgrim, the ad described me as a monastic-psychologist. It is true, I hold a Doctor of Psychology, I sought it out because I needed to skills to aid folks in healing. I have a Bachelor of Arts from Alberta Bible College, and my Master or Arts is from Canadian Theological Seminary now Ambrose Seminary. Each degree earned with classes that aided me in my goal of making the world a bit better, not for any other reason. I am monastic, because at the core of my journey is a formation in the Franciscan Charism. St. Francis of Assisi founded an order about 800 years ago of the open hand, those that embraced justice, simplicity, and living out the gospel message of love. Many believe it is an anti-educational-intellectual order because of a teaching of Francis that you first must learn the first scripture before going to the next. He was not counselling us to be the frozen chosen, but rather to so live into the scripture that we are living it without even thinking about it, it simply becomes part of our DNA. 

For me, the journey of learning has been centered on the scripture that brought me into organized church and ministry, at 19 years old I was contemplating my 6th attempt at suicide. I had gone through a horrendous time for that time of my life where my then fiancée had decided to abort our child, and re-enter the sex trade to feed her addiction. I was at home, quietly putting things in order, giving/selling things. When I stumbled across the little red Gideon’s New Testament they used to give out in grade 5. It was in the bottom of my closet and the spine was broken open, and these little red letters spoke to me: 

(slide of Great Commandment) 

Something shifted in my depression, and I decided to go see my Nan that weekend, and try out this church thing, and the tumultuous seasons of my ministerial life would begin, as I started to be like the lawyer. 

(slide of Good Samaritan). 

This led me to a life journey involved in many aspects of church ministry, continuing an active writing and activism career that was already in place, building ministries, writing curriculums, entering into service in the homeless sector during the darkest times of our province, as austerity measures created a humanitarian crisis in Calgary where threat to human life was imminent each winter. I would also serve during my time as a chaplain to those with dementia, childrens and youth pastors, pulpit supply, college and university instructor from bachelor to post-graduate courses in a variety of topics, practicum supervisors, mentor for at risk youth and re-integration mentor for youth re-entering society from the young offender’s centre. I would do outreach in many of the cities in Canada for those in need, aiding those camping rough to find safety, and if they could not the next morning aiding authorities in identifying the bodies. Publish a few books. Oh and in the midst, I would find time to run for office and shape many policies for parties at both the Federal and Provincial level, but hey a man needs a hobby. 

Throughout this I began to shape a concept of belonging. That it is about aiding folks in understanding who they truly are, how the experience the world, and how we as community can aid them in achieving wholeness. 

(slide on mental health) 

In my teens and early 20’s like many Albertans I struggled with alcohol. It would not be until later that I would find out about my family’s predilection to alcoholism. But I made a hard decision at that time, after my one birthday where I woke up sore and alone at home, alcohol was not a good thing for me, it made me violent, it needed to end: 

(slide of Dix) 

Addiction comes in many forms.  

(addiction slide)  

It is a form of self-medicating, a numbing agent, a replacement for authentic belonging and authentic self. The challenge in our world, is that so many things that become addictive can be seen as societally acceptable: gambling we use to fundraise for our schools and hospitals and other non-profits, alcohol you are seen as abnormal if you do not drink in social settings- try being politically active and sober? Or a writer; work or fitness or religion- all things that are acceptable, but can also so overtake our lives that we can no longer function. 

(Opioid crisis slide) 

Today we are in a crisis in Canada as a result of our triage and siloed method of dealing with people in health care. We are in what the media and health care have termed an opioid crisis, it is due to the prevalence of Fentanyl. A drug originally designed for end of life pain allevement. Now opioids, when used for pain relief within medicine are not bad, that is the all or nothing view of our world. What is wrong, is those using them to self-medicate their own personal pain. Pain caused by our own inhumanity towards one another. What would change with the crisis if we moved out of isolation and fear mongering, into authentic community? A courageous safe space where we understand pain, we understand the journey of healing, and we are willing to believe and help at a deeper level. We are willing to allow belonging, knowing that the greatest fear in belonging is that when the person is no longer there, we shall mourn.  

That is why we avoid belonging. Whether it is belonging in our own skin (Love yourself) or opening space for belonging for neighbour (love your neighbour as yourself). 

(won’t you be my neighbour slide) 

I have already touched on a bit of my own struggle with depression. Depression is a normal reaction in the grief process of loss, it can also be more than short term however, and that is okay. It is how some experience life 

(Depression Slides) 

It is ironic, as a child I had convulsions, they were so severe in my toddler years I am told there was multiple times I stopped breathing and was blue. In the late 70’s early 80’s the treatment for such a thing was an anti-psychotic- Phenobarbitrol. It is a harsh long-term treatment, but it saved my life and my brain. Many children who were put on it, lost their lives to suicide or addiction in adolescence, or dropped out of life. It is still used in short term cases for stabilization before another anti-epileptic or anti-convulsant will be prescribed. I was on it from roughly age 2 to 9 years old, my convulsions left my brain scarred, and unbeknownst to us at the time, the medication had rewired things significantly. 

As my Mum entered into the journey of Breast Cancer that would eventually take her life; I was the Director of Youth and Children’s Ministries at a church; teaching and writing; working as a vocational coach for persons with disabilities; working on my Master’s oh and just for fun running for office while editing a political journal provincially, and a spiritual journal internationally is when the repercussions of what saved my life would hit. 

(I don’t wanna slide) 

Panic attacks. Tears or anger for no reason. Medication as my brain chemistry was out of balance. 

I was always and still am open about my own journey, if those who seek to facilitate healing cannot be open, how do we expect those seeking help to be open. There was a backlash, churches skittered away from me, as I transitioned back into a leadership role in the homeless sector I was abruptly informed that I was a weak leader for sharing my mental health with my team. That self-care and mental health care were not up to leaders to mentor staff in, it was their job to deal with the challenges of the job. 

Stigma. 

But through medication, self-care, what I termed soul work through spiritual direction and life coaching I emerged through that time on medication for a few years and things had improved.  It was also during this time that I lost my ordination by taking a stand that yes children with disabilities belong in God’s kingdom (but our journey of that is a tale for another time). 

As Shawna, my wife, is always proud to say, I taught many how to care for themselves, while caring for neighbour. Soul care, ensuring you can love yourself and are being the true you, while helping others become the true them. We did not expect what was to begin in 2016, but there are 4 scary letters out there that we need to remove the fear from: 

(PTSD Slides) 

Whether personally or professionally we as a family had created safe spaces for belonging, whether they found me through work, or showed up on our door step. Literally meals can be added to, coffee or tea can go on, kids can play, and life can happen as we just are: 

(Quote slide) 

I am going to share with you an article I wrote about what is happening in the now, it is the outcome of years of journeying in the darkness as the light, and taking a beating for views of belonging. A lifetime, as we spoke of before in a Franciscan way of learning how to live out the Great Commandments, and answer the question, Who is my neighbour? 

(PTSD-PNES Slide) 

613 is my number, what is yours? 

It is amazing the conversations one has as a parent, and then the journey it causes you to reflect upon. Before May 2016 sitting in an ER I never thought I would be here. See, growing up and throughout my life I admit to being socially awkward (to be kind), but there was something that always was wonderful, my mind. When it came to numbers it was something like Charlie on Numbers that the solution would come to me, but has no real idea what took me from problem to solution. My everyday mind would be able to focus on 3 or 4 tasks in front of me, while crunching solutions and dreams/plans for multitudes of other things (one of the main reasons I never took up this thing called driving). 

It is the blessing of this mind, with my heart for changing the world that allowed the drive in school (and the multiple degrees earned and given honourary); building programs; running for office; editing and writing; book publishing; teaching; outreach work; mentoring; life coaching; spiritual direction; public speaking; pulpit supply; and the list can go on in my short life I had packed in multiple life times. Standing in the darkness and walking with those in the midst so they could come into their light. Discover who they truly were; teaching and facilitating others in discovering their passions and ways to make a living at it. I believe my life showed that you can chase dreams, and still hold true to your core values, not having to surrender who you are to make a difference in this world. At one point I looked back on my time in ministry and realized I had the opportunity to speak into nearly 1,000 young lives for the better. 

But it started to shift in May and then October 2016 in the ER with weird brain activity, memory loss, chest pains and left-hand tremors. But I was told I was normal and fine, so carry on at discharge, after a day or two at home back at it. Back at the work of walking with folks to create home and community. 

In the later part of 2017 as summer approached, professional and personal griefs/stressors were there. Waying on one’s spirit. I felt tired, and my brain was foggy. Like I had taught so many though, back to the daily practice, self-care, seeking out those who can aid you in debrief and carry forward, keep yourself healthy. And why wouldn’t I be tired? It was a phase, been there done that. My vocabulary, and understanding of some basic concepts began to fail me. Again, I looked back on what was happening with those in personal and professional life passing away, assumed it was a grief cycle (my son’s friends were passing away, always hard). 

But then my birthday hit and the game changed. 

Seizures (Grand Mal and absent), multiple in rapid succession. Lost memory and time. Not only in the now, but lost memories, I could not recall things. It kept happening, I became the ER’s daily flier if you will…and oh so cold, my body had gone hypothermic, in retrospect to protect my heart. Medical science couldn’t answer the question. Weird things being vomited out. Tests were toss ups. 

But when the seizures hit, and I would come back so would the pain. The life of being a light in the darkness, but only the darkness would come back. Decades of being in the pain, looking back and having my mind lie to me saying that I was a failure, had not made a difference. My memories that would reboot, it was like an old DOS computer with dust on the floppy, the self-care wouldn’t come with it. My healing and growing of scar tissue were gone, it was rapid succession of the pain that cut to the very core of who I was. I tried to work through, my agency was wonderful in their support. 

But I was not me. My beautiful gift, my mind, was failing. Things that I knew by rote, and was simple neurological muscle memory were gone, fog was constant, stabbing pains, tremoring arm, in ability to sleep, hypothermic and I won’t share how when I went down finally for health reasons the days of weird chemicals I had been exposed to expelling from my body (oh and the constant daily seizures, at one point almost 40 a day). Tests of the blood, body and brain, but the flashbacks persisted. 

It wasn’t something that was expected. I had learned to take care of myself, to rely on supports, to keep healthy, to use vacation time and to chase passions. This was against the narrative. But it persisted. Advancing from basic neurology to complex, in hospital observational stays, and all the epileptoligists/neurologists looking at my brain scans and medical files to reach a decision on what was happening. Finally, in the last month or two having confirmed diagnosis, PTSD-PNES, and now due to the Third Way boondoggle that was Klein’s legacy, I wait for the aid to cure and move forward. In the mean time the seizures are not epileptic but bring all the fears of those types of seizures with them everything from falls to sudden death, with no medications that can be prescribed to control them. 

With each seizure my number reminds me of where I have walked. 613 that is 613 in my life of family, friends, children, parishners, and clients I was unable to do more than journey with to the final transition to the next life. Most I was present for last rites or the passing or performed the celebration of life, if not all of it. In the travels I continue to use that which some may say is fruitless. Yet I persist. I pay the price for the persistence to keep going, I am not as good as I used to be, not even close…but I keep trying, working on myself while I wait. 

This time I feel like Alice having stepped through the looking glass, or Kirk into the Mirror Universe. I have seen what the darkness unchecked has done to my soul. I know what the light is. I struggle to believe in myself once more for with each reboot I still have to work through the lies my heart tells me that I am a failure, for even if it is a simple spark I need to hold to it…that I make a difference simply by being. 

What is your number? 

 (Authentic you slide) 

The Great Commandment lays out a challenge for us. It is about realizing that we are created in God’s image. As such we cannot say we love God with our everything, if we do not love ourselves. To love ourselves speaks of belonging in our own skin, having our purpose, it is not about jobs, it is about knowing why we are here and having a means to live it out. It is also understanding we need to love our neighbour who is also the image of God. Creating the courageous safe space for belonging so they can discover themselves. Within that space journeying with one another in the same vein. 

People constantly ask me what’s next? I honestly do not know, step one is to get the healing work done, then look at a return to work. What will that look like? I do not know. In the mean time I have purpose, I write, I teach when I can, I do some research and writing for my Dad and his wife’s project, Countess Country Musuem. I am beginning to work on a family memoir on the topic of mental health and belonging to remove the stigma. Most importantly though in this time of healing, I am a husband and a Dad in an amazing loving family. 

I leave you with a question to mull, 

What’s next for you? 

(Christian Counsellors slide) 

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Much of the conversion drive is using points of Romans to prove that it is necessary to convert as noted previously. What is missed though is Paul’s beautiful discourse that echoes in many ways the wisdom teacher of Ecclesiastes. He is writing to the gathering of Rome, a diverse community struggling to understand a way forward in unity. Each has their own understanding of culture, norms, law, prophets and yet here they all are together. What is one to do?

Paul moves into the second chapter (Romans 2) presenting a very young type of God with creation. That is one that is wrathful, but proxies the wrath though and the mercy dependent on how the individual carries their whole being. Do they carry these judgments, hatreds and doubts? If so what is being done to help them move forward healthily, and be complete. Paul points out that it is how we live our life is what we will reap, will we need to be purged completely to enter the afterlife, or sail seamlessly from this to the next?

Works grow out of faith. Many try to create the false dichotomy between Paul and James, but as Paul had pointed out in Corinth he was involved in Jerusalem. He was aware of the teachings and the living of the life. It is the life lived that had transformed Paul that allowed Paul into the leadership circle of the Way. It was not position, but character transfigured that shone through. This is a very Franciscan principle. Many view the Franciscans as anti-learning as it is not the major pursuit as say with the Jesuits. But what Francis of Assisi had stated was simple, once you are living the first lesson then move to the next.

It is as Paul was laying out, faith becomes second nature, there is times when we are first entering and growing into our new life where we may need to pause and practice but eventually it becomes second nature. Like remembering to take your medications or practicing mindfulness (or DBT/CBT) or other forms of Soul Work. It takes practice, but eventually they become a part of who you are (Romans 3). That is that you have awoke the holy love that created you, you are becoming and have become whole, this is where you are living out of now. Not out of fear, or out of desire to be acknowledged, but simply because it is the right heart to be in (Romans 4). Like Abraham and Sarah learned, the means justify the ends, and the ends need to be achieved through a moral way, not through things that tear down, but that build up.

In the darkness we knew hope. Think about that. Anyone that has ever stepped out of themselves and sought aid, whether a spiritual director, a mentor, a life coach, a therapist, a doctor, a friend…in that moment we acknowledge we cannot do it alone (Romans 5). In that moment a courageous safe space is created. We know the cycle we are on is destroying us. It can be literal or we just know we are in the wrong groove and need to shift paths. We may need to stop a destructive behaviour, or end a toxic relationship or employment. Perhaps it is something good dangling before us but our inner quiet voice is a saboteur, or as the ancients would say a demon? That voice that keeps us frozen to keep us in what we believe is safe. But safety also has a price to pay for we are truly not who we are meant to be.

This is the step of faith. The step of opening ourselves up in hope to connect with another’s love to carry us through into our own soul-self actualized. That is right, a true whole person. It is what Jesus spoke of in the Great Commandments, the Love Commandment, connecting self-neighbour-Holy Mystery.

The bedrock of true community.

Living out of faith,

In love.

 

 


Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

-Epistle of 1 Corinthians 11:1 (English Standard Version)

Mentorship is a hard path to walk. It is hard for the mentor and the protégé, for the mentor should not give easy answers, but use powerful questions to aid the protégé in critical thinking and holistic growth. This is where Paul takes the discourse on head coverings (1 Corinthians 11:2-16). He writers of the misogynistic tradition and beliefs surrounding who came from who (man from God, woman from man) and the dishonouring being covered or uncovered brings, but then he moves to the brilliant bridge portion for this is not the life and teachings of Brother Jesus who welcomed all as equals.

Verse 12 puts out that all things are from God, and verse 13 places the judging within ourselves. Too often passages like this have been used to continue religious misogyny and oppression, by pointing out legalism. When in fact it is a philosophical tool of reflection that is reflect back the question, add some power questions and see what emerges from your own reason. As you walk through this part of the discourse, you see that the argument is missing the point for it does not matter about appearance, or rules. It is about the community being together in unity. An earth shattering norm; where each member has their own decision making autonomy.  Yes it is becoming a catch phrase of these reflections, inherent worth just because that is how they are created.

This was the first walk through, for Paul uncovers the head covering discourse as the false flag question sent to him by the gathering. It is the reports of how they celebrate together that he dives into:

 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,[e] 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f]you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.[h] 31 But if we judged[i]ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined[j] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brothers,[k] when you come together to eat, wait for[l] one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

-Epistle of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (English Standard Version)

It is not a communion meal, that is a shared meal within the community to ensure all are cared for spiritually and physically. What has it become? A divisive practice where cliques have emerged (think the Junior High Lunch room, where there are just some tables that are no gos). To add to the strife, there are people in the community starving, and no one cares they are letting it happen. This is a meal given to be done in mystical remembrance of Jesus of Nazareth. Communion is the highlight of worship and study together as a community, as the Body.

What it has become is a grudge match. Instead of mysticism Communion has become a tool of exclusion for those that some view as unworthy.  A meal of holiness now used for the people to continue the old ways of meal time; binge drinking and gluttony (remember it was Romans that invented the Vomitorium so they could continue gluttonous feasting). It is about honouring one another, for each is the imageo dei. It is caring for one another, loving of self and neighbour. Not allowing for a backsliding into the old comfortable ways, but living out loud the new path.

Why is it so important to be a healthy community? To not be divided? Paul works into the realm of spiritual gifts, and how each gift works within the community like different aspects of the party. That is right; the community is a living breathing organism because it is made up of living breathing organisms.

Now concerning[a] spiritual gifts,[b] brothers,[c] I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

-1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (English Standard Version)

Some will look upon the lists of spiritual gifts as the be all and end all for gifts. That is bullocks (1 Corinthians 12:12-34). These are but a few examples, for thinking of the multitude of things that are necessary for a society to bloom. Think and reflect on your skills and talents, what passions in you manifest as the best of you. You can tell when you have tapped into the spiritual gifts on your intrinsic being for they energize you to use, even if there may be weariness after use. They are also gifts seen by others, it can be the arts, medicine, science, philosophy, teaching, compassion, social work, child care, elder care, the list can go on and on. What are your gifts?

What are the passions that the Holy Mystery has laid on your being?

And it may shock some to read this, but I firmly believe your gifts can shift throughout your lifespan as new situations and experiences shape your being. New gifts and wonders emerge for we are not a static creation like a story on a flannel board. Our life is a dynamic story that encompasses all the genres at any given moment. The ultimate outcome is a beautiful discourse Paul shares in chapter 13. It has been used at weddings, and celebrations of life (just think of these words summing up your life lived). It is how we live that matters, and use the gifts given us in love, shared in love:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

-Epistle of 1 Corinthians 13 (English Standard Version)

Will you live into and out of the greatest gift?

 


Want to know why faith matters?

Because life and death aren’t fair.

Is it really that bold of a statement? No. We as a species have tried many caste systems under many different names to hide this fact. The cultural norms of us and them, or this and that or whataboutism, what is all comes down to though is not willing to accept that life is life, death is death, and there is no reason or logic behind.

What matters is what we do with the time we have. We can either be jerks or saints. That is focus on accumulating the meaningless, or living into the meaningful (Hebrews 11:1-4).

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

-Epistle of Hebrews 11:5-6 (New International Version)

Enoch’s deutero-canonical-apocryphal texts have created a basis for belief in Ancient Alien Theology. The concept of his ascension into the space ship to the Elohim. Enoch was a Jesus like figure who presided over 300 years of peace (Haze, 2018, p.143). Think of that? 300 years of peace in the history of humanity? How is that even possible? The writer of Hebrews points to faith, and that is understandable, for in faith you may not worry about retribution, but simply justice. You may look to only right and wrong, and be open to guidance from sources that are looking out for the best of us. Faith, also leads one as a ruler to understand that you cannot worry about fairness in life, or death, what matters is what you do with it.

The rest of the faithful written of in Hebrews 11:7-40 is a journey through the patriarchs and matriarchs of the old Covenant. The agreement of blessing, protection and growth and survival that brought the people into Egypt, then out of Egypt to the Promised Land that saw even more alien technology used to bring walls down, to protect the household of Rahab who hid the spies. It is an ancient style of writing seen in the Torah and other points of the Hebrew Bible to commemorate a new beginning whether it was in the Wilderness, The Promised Land, return from Exile in Babylon or Assyria (Ezra-Nehemiah, Deuteronomy) the story and covenant are retold to remind the people of the Elohim with them.

This is the practice the writer is reminding those in Jerusalem of. The new Covenant is a new beginning, it replaces the old. Let us honour the old, acknowledge what has been, what has been good, what has been hard, what will be lost.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

-Epistle of Hebrews 12:1-3 (New International Version)

The new Covenant is scary. It changes everything. It shatters the earthly patriarchal order and rebuilds it on the Covenant of Love. It is a scary time, but do not lose faith in the journey. Remember Jesus who went for broke, and risked it all as he believed in the new Covenant. Will you do the same?

Are you willing to be like Enoch and reign in peace (Hebrews 12:4-17)?  Faith is like Enoch, who accepted guidance, discipleship and discipline from the Elohim . What happened? Flourishment of peace. Reflect on that, what needs to be stripped from your life in positive or negative ways so that you can rest in contented peace? Do not be like Esau, who was the first born and was to be the path through which the kingdom was built. He surrendered to bitterness, materialism, and short term gratification:

16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 

-Epistle of Hebrews 12:16 (New International Version)

Warning against succumbing to the old ways or for those in recovery, turning back to the addiction that is the symptom that masked the cause of the illness. Esau blamed his hunger on surrendering his birth right, but really what was at play was the thought of only the now. The moment of gratification, of pain to end and not to think longer term from that split second. For it comes down to deciding to embrace fear or joy?

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”[c] 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”[d]

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”[e] 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

-Epistle of Hebrews 12:18-28 (New International Version)

Change is scary. One can succumb to the fear of the unknown. The writer knew this, and was pointing out that even Moses was lost with fear in the presence of the Elohim. Yet, the Elohim, with the life of Jesus have shown that fear is a barrier we create for ourselves. We let fear lead us into destruction as we succumb to interior gremlins-saboteurs and demons. Unable to silence them then fear wins.

Joy can become the intoxicant of life, realizing that if the change is good, like the new Covenant laid out, it takes us out of the comfortable but into a new blessing.

Joy abounds when rooted in…

Love

(Hebrews 13)

Live Love in 2019

And

Joy will reign.

 

 

 


It is interesting to take a different perspective to ancient stories and writings. Those who have read my fiction now I have dabbled in the concepts of Ancient Alien Theology and the idea of alien possession or hiding in human form. It is a concept that is not foreign to many religions and spiritualities. That is the concept of ghosts, demons and other supernatural beings, I myself have been involved in a few clearings of places and at least four remembered exorcisms. It is intriguing to reflect upon this, and wonder what if… what if these forces were not extra-natural, but extra-terrestrial?

It is what happens as we move into the fifth discourse of Hebrews in the superiority of Jesus of Nazareth. The writer challenges the notion that the High Priest of the temple systems is the most powerful, and most holy (Hebrews 5:1-4) as appointed by others. A line of succession if the Torah is to be followed through the line of Aaron or the Tribes of Levites, and to be in the presence of the Elohim, there is ritual of protections taken. Just take a read through the texts around priestly attire and you have to wonder what these ancient materials were designed to protect against, the metals used, perhaps it was not a Glory of God, but a protection from cosmic radiation? The idea of tying a rope to pull a protected body out if they dropped dead as a means to protect the others from what killed.

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,

“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;

as he says also in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus[a] offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

-Epistle of Hebrews 5:5-10 (English Standard Version)

A super high priest selected by the Elohim, not bound by the customs of protection and rites of priestly duties. Is it because he was half-Elohim? That is a half-breed, half human/half-alien (a Mr. Spock of the ancient world?). Drawing close to show this, the writer brings us back to the blessing of Abram by the Highest earthly priest, Melchizedek, who was the King of Salem (Hebrews 7), and how did he bless? Wine and bread. Sound familiar? The blessing for Abram to come into full relationship with the Elohim was through wine and bread, the full new community of equality being brought about on Earth, an attempt of transfiguration by the Elohim is through a Halfling that uses bread and wine to remember.

Remember what?

 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

-Epistle of Hebrews 5:11-14 (English Standard Version)

Remember that you have been on this journey awhile. It is not meant to continue at the level of pablum and breast milk like an unweaned babe, rather you are to move onto solid foods. Connect with the tough questions, the roots. Remember what the story is. Move forward in a way that challenges the norm, that shakes the foundations of oppression. Challenge what the usual is.

Be not ususal (Hebrews 6). Live the journey that is strange, can be hard, but in the end do what is right, just. Seek justice. Seek equity and equality. Love freely. Spread hope. Embrace joy. Know peace. Deep dive into faith.

Become one with the new high priest, of the new covenant. Know that you are loved, you are unique and you are special.

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent[a] that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ[b] has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

For he finds fault with them when he says:[c]

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”

-Epistle of Hebrews 8:1-12 (English Standard Version)

A Gospel is a political declaration; in the Commonwealth nation such as Canada think of it as a speech from the Throne that opens our Parliament or Legislature, laying out the course ahead for the nation. Jesus of Nazareth’s followers had a gospel that was completely contrary to the Roman Emperor’s, in fact it was an act of treason to share and speak it.

Now, the writer was pointing to the promise of a new Covenant of equality between Most High and the people. Covenant is a bond, promise, indenturing if you will between two parties. The Most High is pledging a new way in the life span development of the genetic experiment if you will. No longer an authoritarian parent was attempting to beat submission, or through parlour tricks winning approval. Rather, one of equity, justice and equality bonded in the transcendent love that Jesus of Nazareth’s birth, life, teachings, death, and return as a hologram guide (if we follow Ancient Alien Theology on this one- think the Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager).

No longer a parent-child relationship that exists into late adolescence, but a more maturing of lifespan development where the parent becomes mentor-friend to the adult child in a health loving family unit.

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

-Epistle of Hebrews 8:13 (English Standard Version)

What is the new Covenant you are hearing in your heart?

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit Loops 3

Posted: December 16, 2018 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
Tags: , , ,

There are many ways to view holy texts. Some take a very literal-fundamentalist lens in which the black and white on the page is what was literally transmuted by the Holy Mystery. The human behind it being nothing more than a possessed teletype. It can also be looked as all allegory. It can be viewed as history, or anthropological-sociological texts. Fine literature is another way. No matter where we fall on the spectrum when it comes to reading sacred texts, what sets apart the skeptic with agenda, and the critical soul is the value they place in the stories. For that is what sacred texts are, humanity’s stories of wrestling with, experiencing, living and journeying with the Holy Mystery.

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh? Did you suffer[b] so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

-Epistle of Galatians 3:1-9 (English Standard Version)

It is one of the things many who have encountered me in ministry struggle with. Due to my progressive ways, and reads/explorations of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament many would want to class me as a heretic. Yet, one of the greatest gifts I have ever gotten at different points in my life is these stories. For, like any sacred text or story you hold as holy, each time you come back to it something new is enlightened. Much like Galatians. It is a writing of growth. For a psychologist, holistic, social or otherwise, Paul is writing to the gathering in Galatia about lifespan development.

The moment when black and white laws fade more into the background as we grow and change in life. The laws (or rules) we have grown up with have shaped our internal moral compass. It has given us core values. Those values are what guide. Yes there are times when the laws and rules come into play. Usually when we succumb to the shadow, or let our gremlins-saboteur literally sabotage us as the old urban legends from the RAF went. Yet it is these values, the core Cosmic Christ that Paul reminds the following of. The values that were instilled at the beginning when the cosmic dust and holy breath crafted us.

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”[d]12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit[e] through faith.

-Epistle of Galatians 3:10-14 (English Standard Version)

In our growth as people, beliefs change. Sometimes they are shattered completely as Paul lays out here. The only way to move out of our identity politics, and ideological entrenchments is to be jarred. The life and death of Brother Jesus did that, as it turned on its head what was understood about being cursed and blessed.

When has this happened in your life? That moment when what you believed to be true, was revealed to be a gremlin in your head?

To give a human example, brothers:[f] even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

-Epistle of Galatians 3:15-29 (English Standard Version)

There comes the point in life when you realize, and it is wisdom that brings you to this- not knowledge or age, that we are all part of the human family. There is inherent value just in the life. In that life is the promise of discovery of joys, loves, hopes, happiness, contentment, vocational purpose and the ability to positively impact our world through the simple acts of the Love Commandment. Loving the Divine that connects us, loving ourselves as our true self is, and loving our neighbour.

Paul is writing about the growth of life. The journey from infancy to becoming a toddler to school age to adolescence to entering young adulthood and into adulthood.

For that is what wrestling with the pilgrimage story is. That is the beauty and love within and for these writings I have.

For that is what sacred texts are, humanity’s stories of wrestling with, experiencing, living and journeying with the Holy Mystery.

 

 


The North Star is said to have guided the Magi (Wisemen) from the East to the Creche (hence the 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany) of a gift of light into the darkness of the world. This advent we hitch ourselves to a wagon train the to the stars as Gene Rodenberry pitched it in the 1960’s to CBS. This advent trek will be a different look at the five gifts that birth of a baby brought at the solstice: Hope, Faith, Peace, Joy and Love through the lens of the original Star Trek (thanks to the beauty of Netflix, DVD/Blu-Rays and Public Libraries you can watch along and reflect as well. Welcome to the Advent train to the stars…a different style of pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred in the season of waiting:

Space, the final frontier
These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise
Its five years mission
To explore strange new worlds
To seek out new life
And new civilizations
To boldly go where no man has gone before

-Captain James Tiberius Kirk, USS Enterprise NCC-1701

Image result for star trek city on the edge of foreverStar Trek: Gateways was a great book series that extrapolated and explored the portals first glimpsed on Season 1 28th episode, The City on the Edge of Forever. The Guardian of Forever is a time portal, and on an away mission a manic Dr. McCoy travels back to 1930’s New York. In true Star Trek fashion, he violates the Prime Directive and interferes by saving a woman’s life thus altering the course of history.

People wonder why the Department of Temporal Investigation was needed? Too many Starfleet officers intentionally or unintentionally messing with time. Yet as they locate the right moment to find Dr. McCoy, Kirk and Spock enter into the socio-economics of 1930’s New York. The world of the Great Depression- soup kitchens, men hostels, work hard to come by (some may note it looks like the Catholic Worker’s Movement, or other such social gospel movements). Sadly, we have not moved much behind this reality. As we have many plans to reduce poverty, eliminate poverty that never seem to catch the Image result for star trek city on the edge of foreverright traction in our world.

It is this prophetic voice that holds into the episode. As Edith Keller, the social worker making positive change in her community. This was the life saved the irrevocably altered history for nefarious purposes.

To correct the timeline, the selfless angel needed to die.

What do you do? Do you let the accident happen and a life making a difference be lost on the faith that it will re-set history? Or do you still allow Dr. McCoy to save her for the short term care?

That is the crux of the faith argument, within the world, and within ourselves.

A choice is made. In that choice, something is lost and something is gained.

Authentic grief. Loss. Change. Care for neighbour. Advent is a time of waiting. Part of waiting is reflection and contemplation on the past year, as the new year started last Sunday. What choices of faith have you made? Which did you not choose?

The question of faith, as Kirk, do you save Keller or let her be hit?

Light or darkness this solstice season, sometimes it is not always clear which choice is which.