The Spiritual Journey
I was five years old when my Grandmother Hattie died of cancer. After the funeral we all went back to our house to mend our broken hearts sharing stories, and partaking in the food and drink. After a while all the company had left for home, and it was time for us children to retire for the night.
I went to my room confused about the days events. My Dad followed me into my bedroom . He was concerned as to how I was handling all that had transpired throughout the ordeal, and tried his best to comfort me with a pat on the head. We sat silent on my bed for several minutes with his big hand rubbing my back, and looking at the night through the window in my room. The sky was dark and clear with millions of stars shining brightly.
My Dad was not a religious man, but did have a sense of a higher being…God?
My Dad stated,” pick a star in the sky and say a prayer to it, then Grammy will hear you and will know that you loved her.” He also said that I should ask God to” let her into heaven,” because she had been a fine mother and grandmother. With his paternal part completed, he left the room to leave me to do what was instructed.
The first thing I did was recall an exercise that the Sunday school teacher had taught us about Jesus on the cross. She had us hold our hands out to our sides for as long as we could to show how much pain that Jesus may have gone through for us. For some reason I held my arms out like she had instructed us in school, and closed my eyes. I’m not sure how much time had passed, but my arms were tired. I then picked out the star, and got on my knees and said, ” God, please take care of my Grammy, because I love her. Will you please take her to heaven with you. Amen!”
A feeling of great peace fell over me, and I knew that my prayers would be answered.
The classes on spiritualism has enlighten my perception in the spiritual concept, explaining the patterns of spirituality played out in different times, for different people, and the evolution individuals and cultures have experienced. The spiritual life is not a theory, but has to be lived to become a valid and functional benefit of the believer. An abstract concept that creates possibilities through faith, love, and an open mind.
Some individuals become spiritual through forbidden avenues, learning lessons the hard way. Spirituality may not get you to heaven alone, but will let you out of hell. Thank you for the enlightenment.
Rev. Mark England
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John Ozanich D.D.
“And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a and flowing with milk and honey. (Exodus 3:17)
From the Old Testament, God describes to Moses the world into which He will deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. Dating the Exodus event has proven to be one of the most elusive mysteries of mankind. Current mainstream archaeology has surrendered to the notion that Exodus is a mythical story enamoring Jewish idealism and providing a creation mythos for the nation of Israel. Like all branches of science, however, opinion is in perpetual flux due to continuously incoming data and refinement in understanding. Two sliding scales particularly exacerbate the dating of Exodus with their continuous re-adjustment to newly discovered facts. One scale being the timeline associated with Egypt and the other being all timeline adjustments made regarding other cultures in the surrounding area. The Bible itself gives us no solid date reference on which we can rely in regards to the events of Exodus though some minor clues are given which have a bearing on dating. God’s description of the Canaanite area in which He promised to bring the freed Israelites in Exodus (3:17) describes a land in which Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites simultaneously occupied the region of present day Israel. This may be noteworthy due to the fact that the Amorite Dynasty is believed to have fallen by 1550 B.C. Numbers (21:13-27) tells of the Israelites putting the Amorites to the sword and overtaking several of their cities. This would seem to imply a continued strong dynastic presence and thus make the 15th century date relevant. Placing Exodus at or before the 15th century puts Exodus at the start of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt or before it.
Genesis 37:28 tells us, “Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And hey took Joseph to Egypt.”
Historical review of the going prices of slaves in and around Egypt at the time tells us that twenty pieces of silver for a slave would be the going rate around the 1500 BCE era. The price increased to 30 shekels around the last quarter of the second millennium BCE. This again places biblical reference any time during or prior to the 18th Egyptian Dynasty.
“And these are the names of he sons of Israel, who to Egypt.” (Exodus 1:1).
The Hebrew name for Egypt is Mitzrayim. The name is unusual because the –yim suffix is plural. Mitzar would be the singular form of the name. Around the 18th Dynasty of Egypt and the Hyksos occupation of Lower Egypt, the Egyptians themselves referred to Egypt as a plural, Tawy, due to the divided kingdom.
“And the Egyptians made the people of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard slavery, in mortar, and in brick, and in all kinds of service in the field; all their service, which they made them serve, was with rigor.” (Exodus 1;13-14)
Consensus among scholars is that there was no slave conscription before the 18th Egyptian Dynasty. No records exist of any such action. Prior to the 18th Dynasty, slaves were captured or purchased for domestic use. Forcing Israelites to serve as brick makers appears to have occurred uniquely around the 18th Dynasty.
The primary biblical clue cited for the dating of Exodus comes from Kings 6:1, “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.” Archaeological evidence places the construction of the Temple of Solomon at around 960 BCE. Back dating this by 480 years gives us an approximate year of Exodus around 1440 BCE – still within Egypt’s 18th Dynasty.
The most solid archaeological evidence we have in respect to dating is the discovery of the Merneptah Stele. It contains the earliest known Egyptian reference to the people of a place called Israel. The stele commemorates the victory of Pharaoh Merneptah (1213 – 1203 BC) over Libu and Meshwesh Libyans and their sea allies. The last two lines of the stele make comment that prior to defeating the Libyans, Merneptah also defeated Ashkelon, Gezer, Yanoam and Israel. The stele itself has been dated to around 1209 BCE. Thus, the nation of Israel was presumably firmly established by that time.
Frustratingly, Egyptian records offer no help. Thus far, no record found offers a comparative storyline to the Israelite claims of Exodus though it is believed that this is not surprising since it would be highly unusual for Egypt to record the defeat of a pharaoh as potentially embarrassing as Exodus claims. Additionally, Egyptian records are vague and difficult to correlate to what might have been descriptions of the ten plagues of the Bible, which God inflicted on Egypt for refusing to release His people. Natural events, which may correlate to the plagues have been identified and attempts made to correlate them to the plagues but none have been broadly accepted.
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Essay by Mara Fonseca
Essay by Mara Fonseca
‘Love is the Answer’
As I have meditated deeply on what captured my soul’s and heart’s interest in the twenty lessons in a Course in Metaphysics – Everyday Miracles, I recall one particular question and response that I asked and received from Dr. Loretta Siani:
In a weekly sermon from Brother Daniel on Beliefs, he says:
“…I really don’t want to deal with you or your situation because unfortunately like many thousands of instant ministers they labor under the delusion that miracles happen…”
I found the above statement to be a quite thought-provoking quagmire, especially after reading (and enjoying I might add) your various lessons on the medium of miracles.
His comment made me reflect deeply on who I am and what my belief system is. I am the vessel of ‘change to prosperity’ through acquiring inner peace and understanding of the laws of the universe. I also believe in the power of prayer, for it focuses me on the concept of ‘Prosperity Programming.’ (Prosperity Programming – a term used in Shakti Gawain’s book ‘Creative Visualization’ that means having the understanding, or consciously taking the point of view, that the universe is totally abundant. Everything you need or want is here for the asking; you only need to believe that it is so, to truly desire it, and to be willing to accept it, in order to have whatever you wish.
My question to you is thus:
Is it our belief in miracles that makes them happen, or is it our shift in perception when ‘miracles’ happen that changes our belief system?”
Dr. Siani’s response to my question was:
“It isn’t our belief in miracles that makes them happen. It’s our belief in Love and our ongoing faith that Love will prevail…”
Dr. Siani’s response not only answered my question, it also provided me with the tool for continued inner reflection, transformation, and confirmed resolution:
~ Love is the Answer.
~ When we believe in Love, anything is possible.
I have also experienced in my life that the greatest miracles occur when there has been a change in heart. When I love unconditionally and pray for that which will change my perception and bring more compassion, understanding and patience into my heart, a ‘miracle’ happens.
The ‘miracle’ that occurs is that when I open up my heart and believe that Love will prevail a true healing occurs. I no longer carry fear in my heart, for I know that I am a vessel of ‘prosperity’. I am a child of God. I no longer ask for circumstances to be changed in my life, but rather to ask that my perception of my circumstances change. I look at each challenge as a blessing in disguise, and to pray that I will become a better person in the end. I pray for forgiveness and that others may forgive any trespasses I have committed against them. I do not look behind me at what has happened or before me at what has yet to happen. I live in the moment, trusting that Love will prevail.
In summation, this to me is at the core of how miracles happen: When we believe in Love, anything is possible. Love is the Answer. All we need to do is BELIEVE. Ask in LOVE and thou Shall Receive in LOVE. This has been the greatest challenge, lesson, and teaching that I have received in this course and the course of my life. For this, I am eternally grateful.
In closing, I would like to share a poem that expresses my essay ‘in a nutshell’. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I do:
You have come here to remember love,
and as you heal,
you come to be a light that
others see and follow.
They see, reflected in you,
the light of their own forgotten self,
and in seeing this,
they too can heal and be healed.
When you join with the universe.
you see yourself in all things
and all things in yourself.
This is love in its highest form –
pure and unconditional.
It has no motive,
and it seeks nothing.
This is the Essential Love,
awaiting eternally for you to
embrace it so that
you might be embraced.
Love is the guiding light,
Love is You.
–Patricia Easton Graves
Universal Life Church
Universal Life Church
From the virtual edge of the area in north east Egypt that is designated as Avaris, there is viewed a green expanse of land as far as the eye can see. This area would make an excellent grazing pasture,albeit that probably noones intention. Breaking up the beautiful landscape in the foreground one can see a rather conspicuous hole in the ground. This hole is alleged to be the remains of this ostensible Avaris of Hyksos fame. Although the Avaris excavation is relatively small according to the “powers that be” it must be covered over with the soil extracted from the dig every year.
As the result of some sort of rule the remains thus far excavated are subject to a prejudice, I believe, concerning discovery of evidence the Hebrews occupied the area BCE. Evidently the “powers” want such a prospect kept hush, hush. The dig, however, as I recall, is limited to only a three month period each year. Following the annual dig all of the area must be returned to its pristine appearance. Then again, the annual flooding of the Nile river may be as plausible.I suppose, because of the area of the Hyksos conclave consisted of many acres and the limited time span when excavation transpires, one can not expect the unveiling any time soon.
Brother Joseph, Fr.
Final Essay for Masters, Christian History
One of the first striking elements of the course, which may or may not have been intended by the author, was the initial framing of the purpose of the course as one that ultimately explores history from a theological–revelatory perspective. Dr. Loy opens his lesson with an exploration of Paul’s historical assessment that the Greeks, Romans, and the Jewish people had participated in the historical preparation for the emergence of Christ. While I would argue that this bears no resemblance to the field of history per se, it does illuminate one perspective of how history is interpreted theologically. This is a striking continuance of how the gospels themselves reexamine and reinterpret the Hebrew Scriptures outside their Jewish theological and social contexts and within the Christian frameworks. In this fashion, what I am ultimately arriving at, is one of the most striking elements I gained from the course was an awareness of and appreciation for the continued tradition of interpreting historical events as the unfolding revelation of God’s direct involvement in human lives. While I am not a Christian, I can appreciate the vitality that such, what might be best termed, a “theohistorical” examination provides in assuring the continued potency of the faith and reinforcing the centrality of the theological belief that Christianity is the final covenant and revelation of God to humankind. In short, history is preparation for Christians—it is a place of continued discover of God’s will.
This sense of unfolding revelation and continued vitality was also illustrated in the course through its examination of the theological, how Christians came to think about and understand their faith, development over time. Dr. Loy does a superb job in exploring the diverse fruiting of thought that emerged after the death of Christ and the rise of monastic orders and the structured Catholic Church. One thing that I would suggest would be a continued discussion of this unfolding through contemporary times that examines the true diversity of theological strands that have framed the diverse Christian views; in this fashion, truly examining the past and current breadth of the unfolding revelation of God within the Christian faith.
I was also struck with the relationship between the unfolding of the Christian faith and Christendom—that is a Christianized political environment. Dr. Loy discusses at length the growing complexity that such merging led to liturgically; additionally following this it appears the Christian church also underwent significantly greater refining of complex theological issues such as freewill. On the one hand, Pope Gregory asserted that while we inherit sin, we do not inherit “badness”—thus human beings not only engage in redemptive behavior through the baptismal and continued participation in the Eucharist, affirming their relationship to Christ, but are charged with engaging in rigorous self-assessment to ensure they are engaging in right-acting behavior. What questions I was left with in this lesson (16) was the precise definition of sin from a theological level as Gregory saw it—are the seven deadly sins defined at this point, is sin reflective of something less tangible, how is it defined against its Hebraic origins? I also found this theosophical element a fascinating one in that, to some degree, it logically undermines the notion that one can interpret the unfolding of historical events from a revelatory and theologically preparatory way. Pope Gregory appears to address this aspect by holding there are exceptions to the predestined versus freewill argument by suggesting there was an “elect” exempt from free will. I would have liked greater clarification as to who reflected this.
All in all, I enjoyed the course and I appreciated Dr. Loy also attending to issues pertaining to women within the church, violence that emerged as the Church became a political authority, as well as defining the unique differences between East and West Christian structures and the source of this schism.
Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free, and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.
As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials. I’ve been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.
Master of Chaplaincy Studies
By Michael Barth
This course in Chaplaincy Studies was very good and well written. This course helped me learn that being a chaplain is not easy. A chaplain has to know a lot and also be available even if he or she is not at the chapel or office.
I realize now that chaplains need to be versed in other faiths besides there own. I know that I will have to learn more about other faiths to be a good chaplain. I do know some things about other faiths because of taking other classes through the ULC Seminary but I will expand my knowledge so I can be better versed in other faiths. So, I will have to keep studying other faiths as part of my program in becoming an ULC chaplain.
Another thing I did not realize prior to taking this course was some skill level of the person who would like to be a chaplain. Such skills include listening, eye contact, body posture, gestures, voice, and observation. A good chaplain will also respond by being objective and avoid judgment and expressions of disgust or disapproval. Also, the chaplain should be faithful, of good character, of good testimony, sound in doctrine, and able to teach. I think I had some notion of this about a chaplain but did not realize this until I took this course.
One thing I did not consider until I took this course is to know my limitations on what I can do. I need to know the areas where I can help people the most. I am really good with people with addictions because I have overcome my own addictions. Also, I have helped people make it through life’s general problems but I have no experience in grief counseling. So I will have to keep my limitations in mind in order to help the right people. If someone comes to me and I cannot help them, I must be able to tell them that and refer them to someone who can help them. Also, another thing I need to be careful of is not to burn out. I need to make sure that I take time for myself in order to eat, sleep, and relax. The course does point out that burn out was big after Hurricane Rita.
Ceremonies was another great lesson in this course. I had always thought that a local clergy person did the ceremonies such as the Fourth of July, Veterans’ Day, Memorial Day, and so on. I did not realize that chaplains could also serve this function too. In the military, it could be a change of command or a wedding between military personnel. Other type of ceremonies could be retirement parties or anniversaries too. So the numbers of ceremonies could go on and on.
Also, this course was very good at pointing at some basic things. Some of the basic things this course pointed out was having a cell phone or pager so people can be in contact with you if an emergency should arise. Another thing is having a kit that would include such things as a Bible, some scratch paper, business cards, a calendar, and other such things. I did not consider these things before taking this course. Also, having the right clothes as a chaplain is important to look professional. This is something that I will have to obtain along with business cards.
I did not realize that there were so many places that a chaplain could work at. I did know hospitals, jails, prisons, and the military had chaplains but did not know that there were chaplains at truck stops, airports, apartment complexes, shopping malls, school campuses, nursing homes, and at some businesses. I did not know chaplains worked at all these places. Learning this was really helpful since it gives me a great deal of places to chaplain at.
I also learned that chaplains go back to the Romans. The Romans would have priests who would carry out religious functions for the military. This was new to me. I had thought previously to taking this course that chaplains were of a more recent development. The Druids had chaplains too for their military. The oldest form of chaplains goes back with the military. I found this history fascinating too and was well worth reading and learning. In American history, chaplains go back to the Revolutionary War when the Continental Congress authorized chaplains.
Another thing that I learned was that a lot of these places have requirements for being a chaplain. I did not realize this. I just thought that being a chaplain from a place of worship was good enough. Some places of educational requirements like education through Clinical Pastoral Education and a Master of Divinity along with age requirements. Also, some places require that you belong to the professional organization for chaplains.
I also learned that when you do have a chaplaincy program going, you also need to learn about where you are doing it. For example, if you are a chaplain at a hospital or prison, you need to know the rules of where you are doing it at. Also you may need to study its’ history, formal organization, and the tradition and unspoken customs. Also, when you start a chaplaincy program, you need to develop relationships, follow the rules, be consistent, and be available to people.
This course was well written. It covered a lot of the basics for being a chaplain. It also had a lot of resources that I went and looked up on the internet just for further research for my only knowledge. I think this course could go into more detail about some of the topics that it covered, but I would otherwise not change anything to the course. The author did know his subject material and seems to have been a chaplain for a long time which showed throughout this course.
As a result of this course, I will study other religions further by taking other courses through the ULC Seminary and by reading other books that deal with other faiths. Also, once I feel comfortable with my knowledge, I will start being a chaplain somewhere like the local hospital here. Also, I need to learn how to do different types of ceremonies too. One of the biggest things I learned in this course was the chaplains have to be well versed in other faiths and also have to be well versed in doing different types of ceremonies for people.
I would definitely recommend this to other ULC ministers. This course will definitely broaden your scope, especially if you are considering becoming a chaplain. I would also recommend to other ULC ministers to do the Chaplaincy Program through the ULC Seminary.
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Universal Life Church When one takes the time to hear statistics concerning the Bible, the full impact of its influence on the human race begins to be revealed. A single book comprised of sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three different languages by more than 40 authors from all walks of life, the Bible is one unified book from start to finish. The part that stopped me in my tracks was the statement of the author of this course, Dr. Herbert L. Fuchs that ‘the Bible remains one unified book from start to finish without contradiction’.
A statement made by Dr. Fuchs is one I’ve believed in since I started down this ordered path GOD has set me on. “It’s not necessary to demonstrate to the rest of the world how experienced we are by throwing around masses of Bible quotations. The proper approach is not only to be humble about our acquired knowledge, but also to find our basic belief in a way similar to an effective Bible Study.”
I also add my own observation in which I’ve seen ministers whipping out credential after credential at gatherings in an attempt to set themselves above everyone else. The attention that is gained by the minister can backfire as he/she rattles off verse after verse from memory acquired in sessions devoted in memorizing the Scriptures and paying the least attention to their meanings, just to get that paper to show off.
To me, that would put you on dangerous grounds, leaving yourself open to attacks and ridicule of your character by those who are legitimate in the acquisition of their knowledge. It’s the old case of; ’Keep you mouth shut (and credentials in your pocket) and let people wonder about your ignorance, or open your mouth and remove all doubt.” The study of GOD’s word should not be taken lightly or used as a show piece.
What I found to be the most captivating topic of this course was the comparison of the texts containing the Ten Commandments and the differences between translations and how they’re arrival was orchestrated. This was a comparison between the Protestant Bible, the Catholic Bible and the Apocrypha and the Hebrew. To me, the revelation of the variances of the Ten Commandments in the same Bible, between the Books of Genesis and Deuteronomy in every day language, ‘blew me away”! I had to keep my belief system I’ve developed in the forefront of my thought processing, in which I profess a belief of all translations are of GOD-inspired words that are different for a reason.
Possibly to give us a sort of parable to study several Bibles to “average out” or “sift” through to acquire a parcel of GOD’s panoramic view of the history of man. Man possesses a finite brain that resembles a sponge. If you poor enough into it, some will be absorbed and retained. We are forced by “GOD’s plan?” to come to some acceptance and announcement of a belief system to adhere to, from all the thousands of texts that are known.
It was stated that “No book of ancient times has come down to us exactly as it left the hands of the author. All have been in some way altered………before the invention of the printing press (1440),…….the little care of copyists and translators…………….for the text, was so different from the desired accuracy of today.” . So I ask myself and GOD in prayer why HE would allow this to happen. My answer presented to me was that HE didn’t just ALLOW this to happen.
By allowing several different sets of texts, without having lost any of the Words inherent meanings could only be accomplished with an intervention by GOD. If GOD didn’t control the development of all the different variations to force us to dig deeper and in doing so, find the more esoteric messages, who else then? Satan? I don’t believe my GOD would allow a violation of HIS Words without intervention. The course text claims that to the mix were added exegetical difficulties and dogmatically controversies. “To exempt the sacred writings from ordinary conditions, a very special providence would have been necessary, and it has not been the will of GOD to exercise this providence.”
I ask from which text it is taken that GOD doesn’t exercise HIS rights as a Divine Creator to exercise HIS divine (special) providence. We must remember it is HIS book! And HE doesn’t do things (to our limited ability to understand) for any reason. In addition we need to study the ‘lost’ books of the Bible as well as those purposely removed for as little as a political ploy, and make our own statement of belief from those as well. In doing this we must remember, and I reiterate, the main point of Bible Study is not the acquisition of knowledge, but to get to know GOD personally. “Praying and turning things over in your mind are complementary activities.”
We then enter into a four chapter discourse of the New and Old Testaments (very informative), with the intent of instructing us on the history of Christianity, highlighted by the story of the Apostle Paul’s career as THE foremost champion of GOD’s word, following him throughout his journeys. We are then introduced to the various religious titles, women as priests, followed by a discussion of the sacraments and the variance of what is considered to be a sacrament in each of the different religious denominations, we are told to go to church regularly and freely without spousal influence, take part in the sacraments and to “Enjoy the gift of Jesus.” What follows then are several chapters devoted to marriage and its success and failures.
GOD established marriage very early on in man’s history. The question is raised why satan attacked the weakest link of the family, the woman. If man was the superior of the first family unit, why didn’t he stand up and speak up when satan (as the snake) approached Eve? The topics of the roles of the Father and the Mother, partners of the same sex, prostitution, abortion and divorce are all covered.
The view taken by the author is hard to swallow as truth, with reference to abortion he says about taking an infant’s life…. “And GOD surely understands.”…..I say to this WHAT?!?!? Who gives anyone the right to say what GOD says about a topic outside HIS Word, the Bible!!! This topic could cover volumes, but I now am going to present some of the course texts ideas on the family and divorce, a topic that is an arrow in my heart.
It was stated that too many people rush into marriage………underestimating the importance and seriousness of this Holy Sacrament. I know of a young man, who at the age of eighteen, who had received an early honorable discharge from the US Navy, married his high school sweetheart who was also was eighteen.
For the sake of time and space I’ll briefly numerate many of the issues that were present in their relationship and also discussed in this the text. This relationship was based on lust, ownership of another human being, unfaithfulness (cheating), lies, deceit and most importantly lacking GOD or Christ in their lives.
As the text mentions that in the breakup of most marriages lays sin. This couple “hoped” love would germinate, though not voiced, but was apparent in their start of a 37 year relationship. And Dr. Fuchs is right…in the middle, strong as ever…..sin and satan. After tolerating each others transgressions with no knowledge of forgiveness from GOD’s Word. A boiling point was reached one cold fall night. The partner who after 14 suicide attempts was poised to follow through, when the other partner walked in and called the authorities.
The end result was the young man, now elderly received a divorce from a wonderful woman; he was incarcerated for some time and exposed to untold hideous sins. Most importantly, he was forbidden to ever see his son or grandson again. Yes Dr. Fuchs, “Divorce IS terminal”. Do I believe in divorce? No, its ramification or shock waves affect many, many more people than you could imagine. Some say it’s better to love and lost than to have never loved at all. The personal pain of loosing a wonderful wife, an entire family with nothing or No one to turn to…(eventually GOD and Jesus)…………………That pain is indescribable and I’d prefer to bypass it, if it should ever come my way again.
That young man is me, and for the longest time I felt that I was the victim, until GOD spoke to me in prayer and made me aware that I was the victimizer and not the victim. That was when I invited Jesus into my life and I opened the door to my heart and life for Him. GOD, in His infinant wisdom gifted me with many wonderful blessings that included my ‘40 years in the wilderness’ in the form of time isolated as a pre-trial detainee.
In getting to the point you hear GOD’s silent voice, isolation gives you an opportunity to listen to GOD’s Word, or as I saw so many unfortunately do, increase their coalition with satan. Every one wants a Bible while incarcerated. But when they are released, nearly all leave their Bible behind and the lessons they were taught. Jesus filled the whole in my heart that had led me to so many wrong paths in my 37 year relationship with my High School Sweetheart. Testimony? I give it freely to anyone who sincerely asks, how I survived heart surgery with complication after complication, going almost totally blind, receiving two, yes two pacemakers, and still came out of my ‘wilderness’ journey in love with my Lord and King. I must recant that I came out of my wilderness journey.
I’m still there, just in a different location. As a soldier for GOD, I will always be in the wilderness, fighting battles against the evil that held me in its claws for so many years. I am a minister of GOD’s will and the faithful servant to HIS son, Jesus Christ.
In chapter #14 we are warned to not over-step the boundary of basic reason. In other words, don’t tread into territories reserved for professional psychotherapists. If we do work as pastoral counselors, we should at least have a minimal training in psychology with a constant awareness of the legal ramifications of our advice. Be careful.
Due to the degeneration of the environment we live in, for self survival, we tend to keep a horizontal perspective instead of a vertical one towards the heavens. Given enough time, many lives become engulfed in guilt, shame, anger, bitterness and fear; devoid of the ever presence of GOD. Life then becomes an endless search for meaning to fill the void we feel in an existence saturated with evil.
We must change that horizontal focus back to the vertical focus many believe we are born with. The evil of the world is the prime mover of this change away from GOD. The horizontal focus that has drifted so far from GOD, so as to require more and more counselors (ministers), who, remaining on the correct path, can overcome this evil that would have a grasp on the world.
The evil that would keep our views on the self and away from our focus on GOD. The underlying motivations of this self-focus reveals creations of GOD that are self-serving rather than serving GOD. Anything done without faith, without reference to GOD’s Word is sin. The course also tells us and I quote, “Our feelings tell us what is happening, but we are not to make decisions or live by these feelings….a Christian doesn’t live by his/her feelings but by his/her will.”
By definition, from Marsha Linehan’s book, The Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorders, our senses tell us what is happening in the environment around us, and the feelings we experience are secondary and derived from that sensory input. All feelings are legitimate and serve a purpose as long as they are expressed correctly. She continues with a concept wherein we should live in the gray area of where two circles overlap each other with one titled “rational mind’” and the other titled “emotional mind, in other words a wise mind with a balance of rational thought and emotional thought, with neither dominating.
Feelings when left unchecked create an unbalance wherein the feelings or emotions feed on them selves. When these emotions are left out of control, we have extreme results such as murder, a predominance of emotions (feelings). Keeping our focus on GOD keeps all of our thoughts, reasoning, feelings (emotions) on what is good and desirable to GOD.
We then enter a chapter which approaches the topic of whose denomination or Church is the true Church, Body of Christ. It lays out a course that Christianity has followed in its development from the ancient Orthodox and Catholic religions, through the major ‘turning of the mind’, the Reformation. This important event gave us the Lutherans, the Reformed, the Anabaptist and the Mennonites. In America we see even more diversity in the form of Disciples and Pentecostals, Bible Churches and the ever present independent Mega Churches that would intimidate us into ‘giving them more money’.
All claiming to be the true Body of Christ. Who is right? Who goes to heaven? Who goes to hell? We now have hundreds of denominations in America, and their numbers are still growing. It really doesn’t matter that much as most of them are built on a common foundation. As long as we strive to avoid shortcuts and ‘detours’ and remember that we are here to serve and glorify HIM and not the other way around… To criticize GOD’s orders as done by the Lutherans is not acceptable. We can’t and must not think for a moment that we can change these orders from GOD, if we decide to just ‘pass’ a Church rule, with no foundation to support these changes in the Bible. GOD will not tolerate that which countermands HIS orders. Patrick Schwab, the author of this discourse, appears to feel that we should distance ourselves from these false doctrines.
He states that, “Nevertheless, a reformed Catholic or Orthodox Church in a basic Lutheran strategy would provide a real Church of the fullest truth if done, based only on the Bible in it’s original version.” There is no contention with that statement if the Bible in its absolute original version, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was available to all. But this is not a fact of the matter. We don’t have an original version, only hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of pieces or ancient texts. GOD has allowed us a literary license throughout our history, which supports my claim I made in the Four Gospels Course, that to be “GOD wise” and “Bible wise” in our capability to absorb knowledge, we have to read and study as many of the ancient texts as we can to gain a panoramic view of GOD’s making, without drawing any prejudices from denominational doctrines into the studies with us. Mr. Schwab then says we should distance ourselves from these doctrines not of GOD therefore incorrect.
I must say that it’s a known fact that Jesus came to heal the sick and not the healthy, so he was always seen with crooked tax collectors, prostitutes, and the worst of the worst. He never distanced Himself from the lost, but chose to be among them in true evangelist’s form. So why should we keep our beliefs from others? Non-believers (future Christians is a better terminology) will see us turning our back on those practicing false doctrines, and most likely interpret that as a sign that we think “we’re better than everyone else” We are all GOD’s creations.
Jesus came to us to provide a means of a blood sacrifice for the redemption of sins of ‘everyone’, not just a few. This we receive by the grace (free gift) of GOD apart from the law of Moses, which Jesus stated that He did not come to do away with the law, but to fulfill it’s prophesies (as the Messiah). I make no inclination towards calling all the “other denominations” either good or evil, which is not mine to judge. What is my right and duty to GOD, is to familiarize myself with them and not “distance myself from them”, If my belief system is of the Word of GOD and GOD’s alone, there exists not a single worry or belief that will touch me, if it’s truth, it will withstand.
I must and do whole heartedly agree with Mr. Schwab’s last paragraph of lesson 19 in which he states “……..there are many good people out there and they do make a difference. It is just very hard to find them as they are doing their missionary work in the dark and often under financial distress.” They are far removed from the Mega (Give, Give, and Give) Churches.
Please don’t misconstrue my intent to defame the large Evangelical Churches. Any Church that brings the lost into GOD’s house and introduces Jesus to them is absolutely wonderful, and most definitely doing GOD’s work they were led to.
In the final chapter the topic of the government’s view of Religion and how they co-exist together is laid out for us. Using our history books, we’ll see there will probably never be a complete alignment between the two. Our currency reads “IN GOD WE TRUST”; but no one seems to remember that those words are there. The government is supposed to be of and for the people.
A government that legalizes partial birth abortions of infants fully formed, innocent, unable to defend or even speak up for themselves, pure and from GOD, needs to evaluate whether those words “IN GOD WE TRUST” is a good thing! My GOD says thou shalt not kill…..period! No clauses, referendums, no stipulations, no amendments to the Ten Commandments. This is a very hefty topic requiring an essay of its own.
Jesus was a practicing Jew His whole life. He didn’t come to abolish the Law of Moses. The character and nature of GOD is revealed in the Old Testament to the Jews who suffered the wrath of GOD, who knew GOD’s attitude about sin and HIS requirements to remedy the separation that sin imposed between the sinner and GOD. A blood sacrifice was an understood necessity even before the chosen people. Abel’s sacrifice is evident of the early knowledge of that requirement by his offering of the firstling of his flock which met that stipulation.
Early Jews thought if you study the “Old Testament” Scriptures you would possess eternal life. In the New Testament we find over 50 references to ‘Scripture’ meaning the Old Testament. New Testament wording says we can not “please GOD with good deeds”. If that’s what you believe you’re in error. You are saved by grace and not by actions.
To please GOD we must meet several conditions. The first being we must have righteousness about us that GOD sees as righteousness. To be righteous requires faith on our part and acceptance on GOD’s part. We shouldn’t view the way of salvation as two separate and distinct ways.
Jews always looking ‘forward’ to their coming Savior and Christians always look backward with faith in the completed work of their redeemer. GOD accepts both Jew and Gentile on the basis of their faith in the death and resurrection of HIS messiah as a substitutionary sacrifice to completely pay the penalty of our sins.
I found this course to be surprisingly ‘readable’ and not dry reading as I expected… It did fulfill my expectations of the train of thought that permeates all of the courses I have and am studying. That being the need and desire that should be instilled in each of us, no matter which path we follow, to get to know, understand, relate and minister to all peoples of every religion. I would also recommend this course as a primer to new Christian and non-Christian alike as well as advanced students of the Bible.
It provides much of the basic rules of basic Bible Study no matter what your level. It does contain quite a plethora of historical events and characters from the Bible, especially my favorite (Besides Jesus of Nazareth) Saul of Tarsus (The Apostle Paul).
That being said I would highly recommend the Master of Religion Course to Students of all levels as well as well versed life-long Christians. Any one with a question in their minds about the Bible, the Church, their personal spiritual growth, GOD and Jesus Christ (Let us not forget the last but by no means the least of the Holy Trinity, the Breath of GOD) will find a foothold to GOD in a way that is provocative and inspiring to create a desire to dig deeper into a topic that strikes them with the impact of GOD’s Word.
What I liked least about the course was the best sections. To clarify, the most inspiring to me was too short. A lot of mileage was given to a lot of subjects. There are a lot of topics that cry out to be heard in more depth. I would like to see this course the same length (or longer) but in two separate courses, I and II. Would I be interested in taking more courses by Dr. Herbert Fuchs and Patrick Schwab? Yes, most definitely.
Love and Be Well.
Rev. Kipper Rowen