Friday, May 31, 2013

Speaking for God

There sure seems to be a lot of people who claim to be speaking for God lately.  They’re quick to tell you what to believe, how to believe, and if you don’t believe the way they do, you are wrong.  Some will even go so far as to say you are going to hell because you believe something different. 

There are thousands upon thousands of varying religions in the world.  Just in Christianity alone there are well over 38,000 different denominations.  Many of these claim they are the one and only way and they condemn anyone who may declare otherwise.  So, who’s right and who’s wrong? 

I’ve said it before and I will say it again….  If someone is not speaking words of love, peace, compassion, kindness, and how we can all get along, they are not speaking for God.  Fortunately, there are many, many religions and/or denominations who do speak these words and I sincerely commend them.  They walk the talk of Jesus’ teachings (or whoever their Spiritual Master is of their religion). 

Am I condemning those who are doing the condemning?  Not at all.  All religions have their place and people are where they need to be at this time on their soul’s journey in this life.  Besides, many of these are showing us what isn’t working.  We are in the midst of a grand and wonderful spiritual awakening and everything that isn’t working for our greater good is coming to light and will be used to manifest our being the greatest expressions of who we are meant to be.

There are many hate groups that say they are speaking for God and I won’t mention any by name because I don’t want to give them any more publicity.  Some are even picketing funerals and spouting hateful rhetoric that has no business being said at funerals let alone coming from a church.  What’s interesting is that because of these groups, we are seeing hundreds and thousands of people who have been joining together in peace and harmony to support those who have lost their loved ones.  People will travel from all over the country, and I believe I read other parts of the world, just to show their support of love!  Would this have happened if these groups had not started picketing and promoting their religious nonsense?  There’s a saying that says, “God works in mysterious ways,” and I believe that is true in these instances.   These groups are playing a part in uniting people in the collective consciousness of love.

So many people are turning away from God, churches, and religion because they know that what they are seeing and hearing isn’t the way things are “supposed to be.”  They see the hypocrisy and want no part of it.  They hear the saying that “God is Love,” yet are hearing and seeing something completely different from so many churches and church leaders.  Again, I want to make it clear that I am not making a broad sweep statement.  There are many churches and church leaders who do follow the teachings of their Spiritual Masters.  They’re doing whatever they can to unite people in spite of any perceived differences.

When it comes to our beliefs about God, we only have our individual and personal experiences of God and everyone experiences this deity in different ways.  Yes, there is only one God for all; it is only we humans who separate him for different beliefs.  We hear God’s voice through the filters of our personal belief systems.  We know it’s God’s voice if the foundation is unconditional love for all.  It’s also very important that we go within and listen to what God says to each of us rather than just believe whatever anyone else tells us he says.  Yes, we can get a lot of great teachings, wisdom, and information from others whether it’s from religious leaders, books, or wherever.  But we need to check that information with our own inner Spirit to see if it is true for us.  Does it lift us up?  Or does it oppress us?  Does it fill our hearts with joy, happiness, and make our love overflow?  Or does it destroy on some level? 

I know it sounds overly simplistic, and it really is; it’s just we humans who make it so difficult.  But unconditional love really is the answer.  It’s what Jesus, as well as all Spiritual Masters, taught.  Let love be your foundation.  Love prevails.  It always does. 

Deepak Chopra said, “The spiritual meaning of love is measured by what it can do.  Love is meant to heal.  Love is meant to renew.  Love is meant to bring us closer to God.”  And so it is.


Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 31, 2013.

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

God and the Forces of Mother Nature

Recently, Oklahoma and other areas have experienced the tragic forces of nature.  Property was destroyed, people were injured, and lives were lost.  Whenever something like this happens, you immediately begin to see people communicating the most ridiculous religious nonsense.  You see and hear it via the media and in the pulpits. 

Friends, let’s be very clear.  God did not send any of the tornadoes (or cause any other natural disaster for that matter) and God was with every single person (and animal) involved.

I’ve already seen people posting about a teacher who prayed out loud in the school and saying she is a hero because she prayed in the school in spite of prayers not being permitted.  There is no law saying that people cannot pray in schools.  In fact, many, if not most schools, allow for a minute or two of silence in the mornings so that everyone can pray according to their particular beliefs.  I’m sure there were many teachers, children, and staff in the schools who were praying in their time of peril.  I’ve also heard and read where people are saying that schools are targeted by God because God was taken out of the schools.  God was not taken out of the schools.  To say that does a great disservice to everyone in the schools who have very strong beliefs in God. 

There are some who are blaming the tornadoes on groups of people only because they don’t agree with their beliefs or lifestyles.  Personally, I believe that God is a very loving, kind, and compassionate entity and to do anything except to manifest as unconditional love would not be who I believe him to be.  Therefore, for those who think they speak for God and know God’s intentions in these disasters is unconscionable and sad. 

We don't know why these things happen.   I do know that I believe that God doesn’t cause them.  He also doesn’t send tornadoes to punish people.  Mother Nature has a mind of her own and these natural disasters have been occurring since the beginning of time. 

What those affected by the tornadoes and other weather related tragedies need at this time is our unconditional love, compassion, and kindness.  Those in the trenches helping in the search and rescue work are doing so regardless of the race, religion, nationality, sexual preference, or politics of the victims.  They are just helping their fellow beings…period.  And that is the way it should be!

Why does it take disasters to remind us how much a part of each other we really are?  When something like this happens, people put aside any and all difference and they come to the aide of their fellow brothers and sisters, and this includes our animals and pets.  Nothing else matters except for serving humanity.  This is when we “get it.”  We know our connectedness.  We know that we are all a part of each other. 

There are countless heroes all over the world; people who will go out of their way, some even risking their lives to help others.  We are seeing many of these people who risked their lives to save others during the tornadoes, and we are seeing them helping in the aftermath. 

Even though we may not be able to help in a direct way, we can help by using our words wisely.  We can pray. If you can send money to one of the legitimate organizations, please do so.  But, please…let us focus our energies on helping people by sending love, compassion, kindness, peace, and healing.  Let it be loving and positive and lift people up.  Yakov Smirnoff said, “The human spirit is not measured by the size of the act, but by the size of the heart.”  There sure are many, many people in the world who have huge hearts and I would like to say “thank you and bless you!”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen May 24, 2013.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Fall In Love With Yourself


Alan Cohen, a well-known author and speaker, stated, “Wouldn't it be powerful if you fell in love with yourself so deeply that you would do just about anything if you knew it would make you happy? This is precisely how much life loves you and wants you to nurture yourself. The deeper you love yourself, the more the universe will affirm your worth. Then you can enjoy a lifelong love affair that brings you the richest fulfillment from inside out.”

But how many of us truly and sincerely love ourselves?  Not just know it; but feel it deeply within the core of our being?  I would dare to say that not many of us do.  Most of us have low-esteem and feelings of low self-worth.  We don’t feel like we’re good enough and that we’ll never measure up.  Our negative self-talk is constant and we beat ourselves up over the most trivial circumstances.  We say things to ourselves that we would never in the world say to someone else. 

But that’s not who we are, friends!  The Bible says that we were made in the image of God!  That doesn’t mean physically.  We are made from the essence of the All That Is!  By not loving and feeling good about ourselves, we are doing our creator a great disservice.  The second greatest commandment Jesus gave us is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  We were instructed by Jesus to love ourselves, as well as each other!  What greater way can we honor him than by obeying this commandment in that we learn to love ourselves!

Buddha stated, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”  I know it’s not easy; trust me, I know.  I work on it every day.  But if we don’t have love for ourselves, how can we have it to give others?  Louise Hay went so far as to say, “There is so much love in your heart that you could heal the planet.”  There is so much more love in the world than hate!  The way to heal the world is to channel that love within into being of service to humankind, as well as to our animals and our planet! 

People are desperate for love!  The problem is that they’re looking for it in all the wrong places!  We think the only way we can love ourselves is if and when someone else loves us.  We have it backwards!  Spirit gave us all the love we will ever need and it is found within each and every one of us.  But if we’re constantly looking for it from outside sources, we never will discover it within. 

While searching the Internet, I came across a wonderful poem by Dan Coppersmith that I would like to share with you.  It’s titled “Hello World!” 

“I am amazing
Incredible me
Celebrating the being
I choose to be

I'm uniquely spectacular
I am one of a kind
Creativity oozes
From my heart and mind

I'm stupendous, tremendous
I stand out from the crowd
I do things
That aren't allowed

I'm inspired, desired
I am wonderfully weird
I am unbridled passion
I am highly revered

I'm outrageous, contagious
I am daring and bold
I am honored and cherished
I'm a treasure to hold

I am gifted, uplifted
I am endlessly blessed
I am sought out
For the skills I possess

I'm delightful, insightful
I am loved and adored
I live a charmed life
I'm renewed and restored

I am grateful, elateful
I am centered and wise
I am wealthy and worthy
I am God in disguise

I declare my brilliance
It won't be denied
the world cries out
For what I provide

I am powerful, masterful
I am focused and clear
Life becomes brighter
Because I am here

I am blazing, amazing
I can't be contained
I'm a glorious, fabulous
Radiant flame

I choose to exude
All this and much more
My wings are spread
Watch me soar!”

(© 2011 Dan Coppersmith, www.spiritwire.com)

How many who read this felt very uncomfortable saying such powerful, uplifting words about ourselves?   Friends, this is how God sees us!  This is who we are!  The only thing that keeps us from thinking it is true, is our beliefs about ourselves, and I’d be willing to bet that many of those beliefs were probably instilled upon us from someone else.  I would like to invite you to read and re-read this poem until it becomes engrained in your brain and these thoughts become second nature.  What a great gift to ourselves!  Learn to love yourself unconditionally because that is who you are!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 17, 2013.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Christianity ~ Loving Religion or Dictatorship?


Some religious leaders, politicians, and others want to make Christianity into a dictatorship.  They want to force Christianity on everyone in America (and the world) and make it a one-religion nation.  Thing is, they have completely omitted the teachings of Jesus, which defeats the purpose of it being called Christianity.  When you take out love, peace, compassion, kindness, and caring for your fellow man, everything Jesus taught, all you’re left with is a man-made belief system that is steeped in greed and selfishness.

Some of these same Christians complain saying various other religions are trying to force their beliefs on Americans and want to convert everyone to their religion.  Isn’t that the exact same thing these Christians are trying to do?  Those who want a monopoly on their religion are extremists and they come from all religions.  I want to clarify that not all Christians are extremists; the same that not all people from other religions are extremists.  There are many, many loving and kind-hearted people from all religions who practice the true teachings of their Spiritual leaders, which is unconditional love for all. 

Some of these Christians are also complaining saying that those from other religions are not taking a stand against the extremists from their own religions.  To be honest, I can’t remember when I’ve heard Christian leaders condemn the actions of Christian extremists such as the Westboro Baptist Church, and other religious and political leaders who speak such hateful and very un-Christ-like nonsense. 

An extremist TV news station reports that we are becoming a Godless nation.  I disagree.  One may not be able to call it their personal brand of Christianity, but I see a lot of people standing up for love.  I see a lot of people standing up for peace…for compassion...for kindness.  They’re out there caring for their fellow beings.  They’re working to bring people together, not to separate them. I see God more so in these people than I do in those who are trying to force their religion on everyone else. 

I see Jesus in the person who gives food to the hungry; who helps those who cannot help themselves.  I see Jesus in the person who commits a random act of kindness to strangers.  I see Jesus in those who go out of their way to show compassion to those in need.  I see Jesus in those who really work on loving all mankind regardless of any differences.

Am I seeing Jesus in those who want Christianity as a dictatorship?  Not at all.  What I am seeing are these people propagating hate, bigotry, fear, and ignorance for their own personal agendas, many speaking from the pulpits of their churches, and then encouraging their members to go out and spread even more hatred and violence.  There are TV news programs and radio talk shows, as well as religious stations, which do this very thing.  If people are not speaking words of unconditional love for all, they are not speaking for God; they are not speaking for Jesus, and I’ll add they are not speaking for Christianity.  This is not the Christianity whose foundation is Jesus the Christ!   They are only speaking for their own man-made religion, as well as their own personal agendas.

It’s almost as if we have a modern day Inquisition occurring where various factions of Christianity are trying to destroy everyone who does not believe the way they do.  We see it in many of the laws that some politicians and religious leaders are enacting or are working towards enacting.  These laws oppress, control, and destroy others all in the name of their religion.  They pick and choose Bible verses, most out of context, to back up their beliefs in order to make it sound as if they are speaking for God.  They are not.   There is a very good reason for separation of Church and State.

Some of these Christians also complain that Christianity is under attack.  But what I see are these Christians attacking everyone around them because others do not believe the way they do.  Whenever someone tries forcing beliefs or religious laws on others, people are going to naturally fight back.  What I see are people standing up for religious freedom…the right to believe in their own religion, attend the church of the their choice, and to worship in peace the God of their understanding.

People wonder why so many are turning their backs on God, church, and Christianity.  Jesus was the greatest example of what Christianity was to be even though Jesus did not want a religion made after him.  He said repeatedly that “the Kingdom of heaven is within you.”  He also said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  You will know if someone is following Jesus’ teachings by the love you see them showing others and how they treat their fellow man.  So, let’s be clear.  The Christianity that some are trying to force on everyone is not the Christianity of Jesus. 

Those who are secure in their faith and beliefs have nothing to prove.  They know they don’t have to get into these “my God is bigger than your God” arguments, or fight over who is right and who is wrong.  They know there is only one God regardless of the name or title that we give the creator.  They want to live in peace among all people regardless of any differences.  They practice Jesus’ teachings (or whoever their Spiritual teacher/leader might be).

Am I bashing Christianity and/or Christians?  Far from it.  If you got that impression, please go back and read this essay again.  What I am saying is that we have to get away from the blind leading the blind.  Look within our hearts and souls to seek Truth.  If unconditional love is the foundation of your beliefs, then you know you are following the true religion, regardless of what religion you may be following.  Unconditional love was taught by the spiritual masters of the great religions.  There is a lot of good in Christianity, the same as there is a lot of good in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other religions.  Let’s not condemn all for the actions of a few.  Let’s work towards putting unconditional love, compassion, peace, and kindness back into our religions so that we can live together in harmony.   Let’s live by example.  As Gandhi stated so eloquently, let’s “be the change you wish to see in the world.”  

Copyright 2013
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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Love One Another ~ No Exceptions!


“That thing isn’t even human!!”  Those are the words I heard come out of my mouth upon seeing my first transsexual person, and it bothers me to this day that I said them.  It was 1979 and I had moved to Hollywood, California, from a small town with a population of 3,000, which was basically an all white, Christian community.  You can imagine my awakening when I learned how much diversity there is in Los Angeles. 

A friend had taken me to a Hungarian dance and upon our arrival most everyone was already in a circle in the center of the room learning a new dance.  Standing in the circle was a very tall person who looked like a woman. My friend said she was a transsexual and told me what that meant.  I was immediately disgusted; hence the words “That thing isn’t even human!!”  Because I was so appalled and horror-stricken, we decided to leave and go elsewhere.

At the time, I was attending a large church and was very steeped in my fundamentalist beliefs.  Anyone who didn’t believe the way I did, or who did not live up to how I was taught they should live, was wrong and going to hell. My beliefs were packed so tightly inside a box that there was no wiggle room for anything new.

Not long after the above incident, I had gone into a Hollywood Christian bookstore.  I was the only customer so the clerk and I struck up a conversation in which he began to tell me about his current situation.  He proceeded to tell me that he had been a man, became a woman, was saved, and was in the process of becoming a man again.  I didn’t know what to say, though I do know I tried to remain calm and not say anything to betray my ladylike manners.

Just then two others came into the store.  I recognized the man from an acting class, but did not know the woman he was with.  We began talking and to my horror once again, he began to tell me about the woman he was with.  She had been a man, went through the process of becoming a woman, became saved, and was going to become a man again.  Apparently, they were told that in order to be a Christian, they could not be a transsexual. 

You can imagine how stunned I was.  My mind raced trying to find a polite way to run out the door.  Before I could leave, someone suggested that we hold hands in a circle and pray.  Next thing I knew, I was standing there, and on each side of me I was holding hands with one of these “freaks.”  I could only try not to panic for I knew it would be over soon and I could make my escape.

But then something happened.  While someone was praying, I heard the words in my mind very clearly, just as if someone were standing there speaking them aloud, “Karen, these are my children, too, and I love them just as much as any of my children.”

Talk about stunned!  Did I really just hear those words?  No one in the circle spoke them.  Therefore, they could only be from one source.  God…the Universe…Spirit…my Higher Self.  Regardless of who spoke them or where they came from, I heard them loud and clear.   I may not have had an instant turnaround in my thinking or beliefs, but a seed was planted; a seed that would continue to grow and manifest until they took hold years later and I was no longer affected by homophobia. 

I learned that we are all children of the Universe (or the God of your understanding) and that we are all loved equally.  I don’t understand what makes someone gay.  But I also don’t understand what makes people fall in love, or how a child can be conceived and grow into a human, or any other wonderful mysteries life bestows upon us. 

Since then, I’ve met and gotten to know so many wonderful people who happen to be gay.  Today, many of my friends are gay and I love them dearly.  They are some of the nicest, kindest, most accepting people I know.  It pains me to see the discrimination, even hate, which they have to deal with in our society, much of it being propagated by religion and politicians.  Those claiming religion should know better, especially if they profess to belief in Jesus.  Jesus made it very clear in John 13:34-35 when he said, “A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Jesus did not make any exceptions.  When he says “love one another,” he means everyone regardless of their color, race, religion, politics, sexual preference, gender, rich or poor, and the list goes on.

History has shown us that since the beginning of humankind, discrimination, hatred, bigotry, and ignorance have been perpetuated against various cultures and groups of people.  But history has also taught us that the human spirit is strong and we will prevail until all are loved and accepted equally.  American Indians, Jews, Japanese, gays, Muslims, Mexicans, woman, and so on have been discriminated against and/or oppressed at one time, or continue to be to this day.  What history is also teaching us, though, is that oppressing any person or any group of people is not our natural state of being.  People all over the world are standing up for each other and standing up for groups of people who are being harmed in any way, shape, or form.  People are starting to “get it.”  We really are one and it really is all about unconditional love for all beings.

Today, I believe in our oneness and that we are all equal regardless of our apparent differences.  I try to love and accept all people.  More and more people are learning that we really are all connected to each other and when we harm one, we harm all, including ourselves.  People on this great planet of ours are awakening.  Will we see all people completely awakened in our lifetime?  Probably not.  But we can awaken one person at a time, and like a domino effect, we can change the world.

Published in the Upper Cumberland Pride Day Guide May 2013.  Copyright 2013
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Friday, May 3, 2013

Wherever You Find God


One of my favorite sayings of mine is “The church may be considered God’s house, but the heart is his home.”  For those of us who do worship in a church, synagogue, temple, mosque, or maybe even in nature, we hopefully do so because we want to somehow find a way to become closer to God, Spirit, Universe, Nature (or the God of our understanding).  We may go because we enjoy the teachings, the music, and/or the camaraderie of our fellow seekers.  We may go because we like to be with people of like-mind, those who believe the way we do.  We may also go because some of us do learn from the teachings from man.  And for those who are closest to God in nature, we may go because we can feel God’s energy from this magnificent earth whose beauty was created out of God’s love.  It’s wonderful that we have such a wide diversity of places and ways to worship.

Churches and other places of worship should be a place where people can go to feel loved, uplifted, and where they can feel better coming out than they did when they went in.  People should feel nurtured, embraced, safe, and welcomed.  They should be able to feel this regardless of color, race, religion, gender, or walk of life.  God loves all his children and this should be felt even in the buildings or other places people gather to share their love for God.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and people are beginning to leave churches for various reasons.  As a minister, some people have confided in me that they refuse to ever go to a church again because when they tried, they were judged, condemned, or some were even turned away being told they weren’t welcome there for whatever reasons, sometimes because of the way they looked or because of their lifestyle.  Granted there are many churches representing various religions and denominations who are very welcoming, inclusive, and who choose to love anyone who walks in their door.  Jesus, who was one of the greatest examples of unconditional love, never turned his back on anyone regardless of whom they were or where they stood in society.    

James Dillet Freeman (1912-2003), an internationally celebrated poet, speaker, and author, had been called a modern day Ralph Waldo Emerson.  He wrote many wonderful stories and poems, which have been read by millions of people all over the world including having his poems taken by astronauts to the moon twice!  He served the Unity School of Christianity as a teacher, writer, and speaker and many of his writings have been featured in “The Daily Word,” a Unity publication.  I would like to share with you one of his writings titled “Blessings for a Church.”

“This is God’s house.  May we who come here not only find out about God, but find God.  May there be beauty in this place, but especially may it be a place where men and women become aware of the beauty in themselves.  May this be a place of worship.  May this be a place of instruction.  May this be a place of singing.  May this be a place of prayer.  But for those of us who worship and take instruction and sing and pray, May this always be a place of inner stillness, Where we may listen and hear when God speaks.  May whoever ministers here minister in love.  May whoever teaches here teach truth.  May whoever serves here serve pleasantly.  May everyone come into this house in expectation, and go with thanksgiving, and may anyone who comes needing help go feeling blest.  May this be such a house that Jesus Christ ~ or any stranger, even the least ~ would feel in it that he was with friends.”  (This is a poem, but is condensed for space.)

Personally, this poem speaks of my ideal place of worship, regardless of where that place may be, regardless of what religion, or who may attend.  Everyone should feel blessed.

Mr. Freeman also wrote what is called the “Prayer for Protection,” which is said weekly at many, if not most, Unity Churches at the end of their services.  “The Light of God surrounds Us; The Love of God enfolds Us; The Power of God protects Us; and the Presence of God watches over Us; Wherever we are, God is! And all is well!” 

God is where you find him.  Some find him in a church, some find him in nature, and/or some find him within.  Wherever you find him, may you feel loved, nurtured, embraced, and at peace.

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen May 3, 2013.

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