God is so good!

Posted 10/24/2019

God is so good!

Watching these 4 swans while chillin' at Scripter Park today, enjoying a little sunshine on my face.

They would ocassionally flap their wings on the water and rise gracefully into the air, circle the lake a few times and again land near the north end of the lake.

They did this a few times and the last time one of them turned in a different direction than the other 3. He/she landed back on the lake while the others circled higher and flew off over the trees. A minute later they circled back to where I could see them above the trees and then flew off again,

I continued to watch the lone swan wondering if he/she would fly off to join the others, or if the others would return, or if he/she would remain alone.

After about 20 minutes I had to end my vigil and return to the "real" world,

I will never know the answer to my question and that is okay. For, like Schrodinger's cat, every possibility exists and is equally valid, correct and necessary; until it isn't.

I often feel like the lone swan, wondering if and when my flock will catch up or will I have scout around to find them once again; but for now I will enjoy swimming alone!

 

ALLOWING GOD IN!

Posted 12/20/2018

published 12/19/18 in the Clarkston News Spiritual Matters column

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Hanukkah Sameach, Blessed Kwanza, io Saturnalia, Happy Holidays!

One of the great things about Christmas, especially this year, is that it offers a distraction from the news of the day. I turn the radio to the Christmas music channel, sing along to all the old favorites and even occasionally hear something new. This does wonders for my attitude at times when my mind is preoccupied with all the preparations for the holidays. Turning the channel is a lot like learning to turn it over.

I used to have a flat rock that had been engraved with the words “Turn it over” on it. When I first saw this rock lying on a counter I picked it up and turned it over. Guess what it said on the other side? It said “Turn it over” so I did. And imagine my surprise when I saw what it said on the other side? It said, “Turn it over” so I did. And of course, it said “Turn it over.”

About this time I began to get the point, so I bought the rock and have since given it away. I now understand it as a metaphor for life. No matter how many times I turn it over, it is time to turn it over. Turn it over to God, turn it over to Divine Order, turn it over to Cosmic Consciousness, the Universe, Good Orderly Direction, turn it over to whatever Higher Power you relate to. This is the answer to our every need, every problem, every circumstance and needed prayer.

God, is the answer. God is, the answer. God is the, answer. No matter what you are looking for, wherever you put the emphasis, God is the answer.

God is the answer. This is the title to a wonderful old book by author Dana Gatlin. God is the answer to all our problems. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” Matthew 6:33. Whenever we have a problem, or challenge or opportunity for growth or whatever you call it, the answer is to seek a greater awareness of God in our lives. Usually this involves reaching out to others. We have to get out of ourselves in order to allow God in.

There is at least one other way to understand “Turn it over.” Having once been a Gentleman Farmer, I understand the importance of turning over the soil in the growth process. “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29.

“With many such parables he spoke the word to them… he did not speak to them without a parable.” Mark 4:33-34. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Our understanding and application of these parables is determined by our level of growth in spiritual awareness. As we grow in spiritual awareness we learn to stop projecting their application outward onto others and to apply them inwardly to our own mental, emotional and physical lives.

We have to prepare the soil for this growth by turning over the soil, removing the weeds, feeding and watering the new growth nurturing it until the harvest comes. Then the cycle begins again. In order for there to be new growth we have to continue to “Turn it over.” We continually look at our preconceived notions of life and living; we reevaluate our notions of right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable, should and shouldn’t, will and won’t, etc., in the light of our growing awareness of God as Spirit active in our lives, in our minds, in our hearts and in our bodies.

The soil is our consciousness, our awareness of life and living. The weeds are the negative destructive thought patterns which interfere with our spiritual growth. The “Good Seed” is the thought of God that is planted in our hearts and minds, and with a little nurturing, grows and unfolds in Divine Order and Divine Timing for an abundant harvest of good in our lives.

This is the promise of the New Testament, this new understanding of our relationship with the infinite, eternal, unlimited presence and power that I choose to call God. The promise of the Christ Mass, the new birth in consciousness of this intimate spiritual awareness that is born in us today and all ways.

May your celebrations be light and enlightening.

Blessings of peace, joy & love. Rev. Matthew E. Long, Peace Unity Community.

How To Change the World!

Posted 11/8/2018

published in the Clarkston News, 11-8-18

The best thing I can say about this current election cycle is that by the time you read this it will be over. Although the incessant analysis and second guessing will continue. Plus the very likely increasingly repugnant campaign for 2020 will kick into full swing. There will have been the declaration of winners and losers, but in truth We the People are the losers.

We have always had politicians running on mischaracterizations of facts, freely spouting statistics that are loosely based upon reality but don’t tell the whole story. We have an increasingly divided population resulting from the repeated misunderstandings about the other side that feed our bigotry and self-righteousness. The level of outright lies, deceit and extreme vitriol is at a new high; or should I say a new low. As the saying goes, “How low can you go?” In this case it appears that there may be no bottom.

In recovery circles it is said that the bottom is when you decide to stop digging. We are addicted to chaos, disorder and sensationalism. Recovery begins when we decide to take personal responsibility for our own thoughts, words and actions. This is all that we have any degree of control over, and precious little at that. We cannot control other people, places or things; we can only control ourselves, what we think, say and do. We cannot change the world, we can only change ourselves. And when we have changed ourselves we have changed the world.

“I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Jesus came teaching peace and love and healing. He taught his disciples to do likewise. They learned to be at peace in the midst of conflict, to express love in the presence of hate, to realize health and wholeness in the presence of disease, to realize abundance in the midst of apparent lack and limitation. He did not change the world, but the world has changed because of him.

What can we do about the increasing level of chaos, bigotry and hate encircling us? First, we have to stop adding to it. Think before we speak. Do we know it to be true, honest, intelligent, necessary and kind? The three gates of speech have been written about for thousands of years, as far back as Plato who encouraged us to weigh our thoughts before we spoke. Do I know for certain that what I am about to say is true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? If not, it is best left unsaid.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26.

Second, we take the time to meet our neighbors who had the yard sign for the wrong candidate. Listen, not just wait for your opportunity to speak, really listen to what they are saying and try to understand why they believe what they believe. Instead of trying to change their minds we let them know we hear them by repeating back, hopefully in our own words, what it is that they said to us. Only then, when they know that they have been heard, they may be willing to hear what you have to say.

“For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Hamlet. Differences of opinion are not right nor wrong, good or bad, just different. And, it is honoring our differences that will allow us to be happy, healthy, whole and free. We learn to celebrate our differences, for we need all shapes, sizes, kinds and varieties in order to find our unique niche in life and to know our completeness.

“And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.’” Luke 19:45-46.

I know that these ideas are not the majority opinion in so called Christian churches, but they express the underlying principles upon which the church is built: Love, the great commandment Matthew 22:37-40, and tolerance, the law and the prophets Matthew 7:12, these are what will make us Christian; these are what make us decent human beings.


Blessings of peace, joy & love, Rev. Matthew E. Long, Peace Unity Network.

OUR SPIRITUAL STRUGGLE

Posted 9/27/2018

Not long ago, after service on Sunday, I came across two women who were engaged in a verbal battle and a physical tug of war over a coat. One woman was insisting that the other had her coat while the other woman was accusing her of trying to steal hers. The exchange became very heated while all other conversation in the hall came to a halt.

Being close to the activity, I managed to step between them and say, “Ladies, may I suggest another alternative?” They both looked at me as if I were from another planet. But that did manage to bring the argument to a stop.

At that moment another woman walked into the hall and announced to her friend in a loud voice, “I just realized that I walked out with the wrong coat on.” It was an exact duplicate of the one that was being argued over. Both women had been incorrect in their arguments. The first woman did not have the second’s coat and the second woman was not trying to steal the first’s coat, she just mistook it for her own.

The more right we think we are the more wrong we become. “If anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well.” Matthew 5:40.

This year my teaching and learning focus has been on The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters 5 – 7, which is organized around the Beatitudes: eight statements or Attitudes of Being that begin the Sermon and form an index or table of contents for the remainder of the Sermon. Each Attitude has its parallel in the Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga and the Eight Fold Buddha’s Path; this points to the universal nature of these core teachings of Jesus.

This month I have been working with the sixth statement, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  This is an attitude of focused faith, a consciousness of God alone as the only real presence and power. All else are false appearances, illusion, unreal projections of error consciousness.

As one of my teachers, Yogi Bhajan, would say, “If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.” God is creator and creation. Everything is an expression of God, an expression of love. Sometimes a dark, ignorant and polluted expression, but it is an expression of God nonetheless. When we can see past the darkness to see the light and to be the light, then we are beginning to see God.

Civic, political and religious leaders plus other significant people in our lives who focus on the darkness are missing the mark and leading their friends and followers astray. They tend to use guilt and fear, which are powerful motivators, to control and manipulate others.

Guilt and fear are legitimate emotions that can serve as sign posts for our own journey; we can use them to correct our own thoughts, words and actions; they are internal feedback that we are not seeing rightly, for when we see God in all there is no need for guilt or fear. In Islam this is the Great Jihad, or spiritual struggle, to purify ourselves.

To be pure is to filter out all the impurities that have adulterated our minds, our thoughts and feelings, our inner most being: our heart. When we come from a place of love, an awareness of the presence and power of God in all, then our hearts are pure.

We can begin by practicing the presence of God, rather than the apparent absence. When we focus on worldly things, the darkness, God appears to be absent from our sight. When we focus on the Divine within all, the light, God’s presence makes itself known in our sight.

This is our opportunity to “Be perfect (complete, healed, whole,) therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

Blessings of peace, joy & love. Rev. Matthew E. Long, Peace Unity Community.

Understanding: The way of Love

Posted 8/16/2018

Published in The Clarkston News, 8/15/18 

My friend, Sister Anne, used to work in a children’s home where she helped to teach and guide the children. She’s retired now. She lived in an upstairs apartment that was in the town near where she worked.

One day, after she came home from her work and had prepared her evening meal, she spotted a man outside her window on the sidewalk leaning against a sign post. He was somewhat bedraggled, looking depressed and hungry. Sister Anne took pity on the poor man and decided she wanted to help him. So, she took out a ten dollar bill, put it in an envelope, wrote “Don’t despair” on the envelope and tossed it out the window where it landed at his feet.

The man saw the envelope, picked it up and looked around. Seeing Sister Anne standing in the window he had a quizzical look on his face. He read the envelope, opening it up he found the ten dollar bill. Smiling, he looked up at Sister Anne, waved and then headed off down the street. Having accomplished her good deed for the day, she thought no more of it.

The next day, after Sister Anne had come home, she heard a knock at her door. She opened it to find the man standing there. He handed her back the envelope which now had $50 in it. Confused, she asked “What’s this?” The man smiled and said, “Don’t Despair paid 5 to 1!”

It’s funny how often we think we know what we are saying and doing, but when it comes back to us it has taken on a whole new meaning.

I’ve heard it said that Americans and the British are two peoples who are separated by a common language. You say bonnet, I say hood. You say boot, I say trunk. You say lift, I say elevator. We use the same words but they have different meanings.

The same can be said of men and women. Deborah Tannen, in her book You Just Don’t Understand, relates the example of a husband and wife traveling on the freeway. Seeing an exit coming that had a truck stop, the wife asks if he would like to stop and get something to eat. He says “no” and drives past the exit. At the next exit she asks the same question with the same result. After the third time this happens, she got angry and accuses the husband of not caring about her or her needs

She was hungry and ready to stop for a break from the traveling. He wasn’t. She asked a question, he answered it. She wasn’t looking for an answer but to start a conversation. He was focused on results; she was interested in building relationship. We use the same words but they have different meanings.

Everyone has had different life experiences; we’ve grown up in different communities, different households, different faith traditions, different cultures. No one has had the same life experiences as another person. So we cannot truly understand where another is coming from when they say and do the things they say and do.

I believe that most of the world’s troubles and our own would be lessened if we just learned to really listen. Not just hear, but attempt to understand. If we don’t know where others are coming from we can’t understand their words or actions.

We have a choice. We can choose to live in ignorance, anger and resentment, prejudging others based upon our own limited life experiences and understandings. Or, we can choose to understand that all people are doing the best that they can with what they have where they are; we can choose to practice charity, patience and tolerance of others; this is the way of love. “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them.” 1John 4:16. “Choose this day whom who shall serve… as for me and my household we shall serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15.

In peace, joy & love. Rev. Matthew E. Long, Peace Unity Community

INTERDEPENDENCE!

Posted 7/21/2018

published July 4, 2018 - Clarkston News.

I wish that there was something I could do or say that would make people behave. The level of civil discourse in our country today is, well, increasingly not civil. In the infamous words of Rodney King, “Can we all get along?” Apparently the answer is no!

This week we celebrate our Independence Day. July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain and to become the United States of America. The final wording was agreed upon 2 days later. The agreed upon Declaration of Independence was drafted bearing the date of July 4th, 1776, although most of the signers signed on August 2nd. John Adams, our second president, famously wrote to his wife on July 3rd, “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.” His missed the mark by two days.

It would seem that most of us are missing the mark when it comes to being a ‘United States’ these days. It seems that every day there is a new way of dividing us up: North vs. South, Red vs. Blue, Rural vs. Urban, Old vs. Young, Families vs. Singles, Rich vs. Poor, Shirts vs. Skins, Catholic vs. Protestant, Christian vs. Everybody Else, Black vs. White vs. Brown vs. Red vs. Yellow vs. Yet to be determined.

To miss the mark is to sin or make a mistake. The word sin comes from an ancient archery term which literally meant to miss the mark. If you don’t hit the bullseye you have synned. So, next time take better aim. Haven’t we all missed the mark on occasion? Especially whenever we decide that we know what is right for any one or everyone else, and fight to change them, we are grossly missing the mark. The only ones that we can change are ourselves, what we think, say and do.

Politicians and Religious leaders love to stir up the fight, to win at all cost including our immortal souls. They resort to lies, deceit, cheating and stealing in order to win. The ends do not justify the means. Every lying deceitful attack on the other side is met by hurrahs by the proponents, cries of foul by the opponents and tears away at the moral fiber of our communities and our country. It is up to each one of us to take a step back, breathe deep, relax, let go and let God’s good come forth. And, if we can’t find something helpful, positive and truthful to say, shut up!

The people who are promoting the fight are the ones who are benefiting at our expense, if we let them divide us; we lose!

Two thousand years ago Jesus came to bring us a spiritual message of love and service: the great commandment (Matthew 22: 37-40,) the sign of discipleship (John 13:35) and the work of ministry (John 21:15) is love and service. This work requires acceptance and tolerance of other beliefs, cultures and lifestyles. St. Teresa of Calcutta, and her Missionaries of Charity, didn’t worry if they were serving a Hindu or a Moslem or Atheist, Gay or Straight or Whatever! We are all God’s children, made in God’s image and likeness, worthy of our love and acceptance and service.

God is “Our Father,” (Matthew 6:9-13) and as we invoke an awareness of our intimate connection with God we realize that we can chose to live in a consciousness of the heaven that is here on earth; we become aware that all we need and desire, our daily bread, is readily provided; that in forgiving, we are forgiven; and, we are not tempted to place our faith in and be manipulated by the physical, material world; we place our faith in God the good as our only true reality.

This greater reality, the infinite presence, the ultimate power which is God, is only good. Divine order and Divine timing are now made manifest in our life and affairs. I relax, let go and let God’s Good come forth.

In peace, joy & love. Rev. Matthew E. Long, Peace Unity Community

BEING POSITIVE!

Posted 5/24/2018

Clarkston News article: published 5/23/18

“You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative and don’t mess with mister in between.” (Johnny Mercer)

Studies show that people with positive, affirming, attitudes tend to be healthier, live longer and be more financially secure than those who are consumed by negative thinking. Easier said than done, especially these days with the 24 hour news cycle.


One comforting thought is to realize that what is considered news is not normal, it is the unusual random events that make the news. Every day billions of parents around the world care for their children. They make sure they are fed, clothed, housed and educated: loved. Then they go to work so that they can provide for their families. We don’t hear about it because that is what is normal and usual.


Negativity, sensationalism, sells advertising and advertising pays for newspapers and television and radio and the internet. The more sensational the coverage, the more it grabs the attention of the consumer and the more it sells advertising. The more controversial, the more destructive, the more conflict generating the reporting is the more we are forced into taking sides on an issue, the more we are separated by ideology and the less we are receptive to knowing the Truth and the facts.


I choose to be on the side of Truth and to ferret out the facts from the opinions. This takes discipline, dedication and practice. It means referring to multiple sources for information with differing biases, left and right, foreign and domestic, main stream and alternative, plus extensive prayer, meditation and contemplation on the nature of ultimate reality: God!


This year, on Sundays, my focus is the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6 & 7) using the BeAttitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) as an index or table of contents for the rest of the sermon. The Sermon is the most concise and complete statement of the Religion of Jesus that is to be found and the BeAttitudes, or Attitudes of Being, are the key to its understanding.


This month we are looking at the fourth Attitude of Being, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” Matthew 5:6. First, what is “righteousness?” It is an attitude of right thinking. It means the right use of our consciousness. The word derives from the old English word that combines right and wise. Wisdom is knowing and understanding.


The part of the rest of the Sermon that relates to this Attitude is Matthew 6:1-18 which deals with piety, alms giving and prayer. A key to its understanding being, “Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” The religion of Jesus is a private affair, “do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others.”


And what about this idea of hungering and thirsting? The story is told of a master teacher whose student once asked him when he would see and know the Truth as the master did. To which the master replied, “Let me show you.” Whereby he proceeded to dunk the students head underwater and hold it there. At first the student thought, “Oh, this is interesting. Maybe he wants me to realize that Truth is everywhere, or that my vision of Truth is distorted as the light is when it travels through water.”


Before long the student began to struggle for breath, his lungs nearly bursting, he feared he was about to die. At that moment the master lifted the students head out of the water and asked him, “What did you want more than anything at that moment?” The student replied, “Air, I wanted air.” “When you want to see and know the Truth as much as you just wanted for air, then you will see and know the Truth.”


I affirm with you that “God is our source; with God as our source all that we need and desire is readily fulfilled.” Thank you God! For so it is and so it shall be, Amen!


Rev. Matthew E. Long, Peace Unity Community.

YOU ARE SOMEBODY!

Posted 3/15/2018

Published in the Clarkston News, Spiritual Matters column, 2/28/18

Somebody should do something! Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.


I am not Everybody or Nobody and I am not just Anybody. I am Somebody, but what can I do? Something, anything that is helpful and positive; just not nothing.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:29-37, we are shown that to be a good neighbor we are to help strangers in need. This is as deep as most people look at this story. We skip over the part about the Priest and the Levite who were the religious and political leaders of the day and symbolize the ignorance and indifference to Spiritual Truth that are found in the outer observances of religion and politics.

We cannot rely upon politicians and religious leaders to do the right thing. Not that they aren’t good people, but power and money corrupt even the best of intentions. It is often the least among us, the Samaritans were a mixed race of people who were looked down upon by the Judeans, who show us the way. “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them” Isaiah 11:6.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:3-4. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less” C.S. Lewis. “Listen; be teachable... For as long as you are green, you can grow" Mother Teresa. When you think you are right that is when you are wrong.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” Matthew 7:15. Those who tell us who to hate and what to fear are the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Hate and fear are great motivators, they invoke an emotional response that propels people to action. Except it is usually destructive and less than helpful action. Hate and fear are lousy guides to action.

When we experience feelings of hate and fear, or their offspring such as anger and resentment, we can recognize them as sign posts on our spiritual journey. They are calls to action, and we are of best service when we raise our conscious awareness above them before we take action.
We can ask ourselves simple questions to clarify our intentions before taking action. Am I being helpful, acting out of faith, hope and love? Or, am I being controlling and manipulative, acting out of hate or fear?

In Mark, chapter 5, is the story of the healing of a man possessed of demons. When asked his name he replies, “Legion, for we are many.” There are unlimited forms of hate and fear, none of which have any reality outside of our own thinking. We are all possessed by demons when we allow ourselves to hold on to thoughts of hate and fear. It is time to make a different choice.

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 13:13. Faith in God: a conscious realization of a greater reality and potential for being, hope for the future: a conscious realization of the progressive nature of reality, and love for all: a conscious realization of the inter-relatedness of creation and creator; these are to be our spiritual guides to action.

You are Somebody, and it is up to you to do what Anybody can do and Everybody should do but Nobody is doing.

Blessings of peace, joy & love. Rev. Matthew E. Long, Peace Unity Community

YOU ARE SOMEBODY!

Posted 3/1/2018

Somebody should do something! Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

I am not Everybody or Nobody and I am not just Anybody. I am Somebody, but what can I do? Something, anything that is helpful and positive; just not nothing.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:29-37, we are shown that to be a good neighbor we are to help strangers in need. This is as deep as most people look at this story. We skip over the part about the Priest and the Levite who were the religious and political leaders of the day and symbolize the ignorance and indifference to Spiritual Truth that are found in the outer observances of religion and politics.

We cannot rely upon politicians and religious leaders to do the right thing. Not that they aren’t good people, but power and money corrupt even the best of intentions. It is often the least among us, the Samaritans were a mixed race of people who were looked down upon by the Judeans, who show us the way. “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them” Isaiah 11:6.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:3-4. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less” C.S. Lewis. “Listen; be teachable... For as long as you are green, you can grow" Mother Teresa. When you think you are right that is when you are wrong.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” Matthew 7:15. Those who tell us who to hate and what to fear are the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Hate and fear are great motivators, they invoke an emotional response that propels people to action. Except it is usually destructive and less than helpful action. Hate and fear are lousy guides to action.

When we experience feelings of hate and fear, or their offspring such as anger and resentment, we can recognize them as sign posts on our spiritual journey. They are calls to action, and we are of best service when we raise our conscious awareness above them before we take action.

We can ask ourselves simple questions to clarify our intentions before taking action. Am I being helpful, acting out of faith, hope and love? Or, am I being controlling and manipulative, acting out of hate or fear?

In Matthew, chapter 5, is the story of the healing of a man possessed of demons. When asked his name he replies, “Legion, for we are many.” There are unlimited forms of hate and fear, none of which have any reality outside of our own thinking. We are all possessed by demons when we allow ourselves to hold on to thoughts of hate and fear. It is time to make a different choice.

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 13:13. Faith in God: a conscious realization of a greater reality and potential for being, hope for the future: a conscious realization of the progressive nature of reality, and love for all: a conscious realization of the inter-relatedness of creation and creator; these are to be our spiritual guides to action.

You are Somebody, and it is up to you to do what Anybody can do and Everybody should do but Nobody is doing.


Blessings of peace, joy & love. Rev. Matthew E. Long, Peace Unity Community

THE GOD PUZZLE!

Posted 1/18/2018

Well I finally finished my Christmas puzzle. For many years now my mother-in-law has sent me jigsaw puzzles for Christmas. I enjoy the mental exertion and the concentrated effort that they require. This is especially calming in the relatively quiet time between the Holidays, after the busy run up to Christmas Eve and before the New Year begins.
This puzzle was exceptionally difficult for me. It had very little in the way of ley lines such as trees or buildings or fences to follow. It was mostly vines and bushes and flowers with not much in the way of continuous structure to guide me.
An added difficulty I soon learned was that most of the pieces could essentially fit almost anywhere. Occasionally I would realize that a piece I was trying to fit in went where a piece already was. Removing the almost perfectly fitting piece I would then notice the nearly imperceptible differences in shape and color it had had with the correct piece.
I was triumphantly nearing the end, placing the final pieces, when a loud groan was heard by all in the house. With victory nearly at hand, in those last satisfying moments when all the pieces just begin to fall into place, I came to a point where I had six pieces left and six holes but none of the pieces fit in any of the holes.
Determined to complete my task I closely examined the pieces around each hole, noticing minor inconsistences in color or shape, I would remove the offending piece(s) and rearrange them so that the missing pieces would fit in.
My wife found all of this especially funny. She could barely contain her giddiness. She had been struggling with putting together her lesson for Sunday. And now she had what she called the perfect metaphor for life, the missing piece for her talk. I’m still processing my frustration.
This does remind me of the story of the woman who was given a puzzle with a picture of the world on it. She had great difficulty putting it together, the picture didn’t have all the artificial lines that you normally see on maps and the pieces were all the same shape. Eventually she noticed that there was the picture of a man on the back. Once she got the man together the world just naturally came together. Now that’s a metaphor even I can understand.
Collectively, we are all a necessary piece of the puzzle. Every man, every woman, every child is a necessary part of the whole. Every church, every state, every religion, every political point of view is an essential piece of the puzzle. We are stronger because of our diversity. God is too big to fit inside of one religion; we need everyone in order to see the big picture.
Individually, I know that when I finally get myself together, when I am clear on my goals and intentions, my world comes together with abundant support. It begins when I get myself centered in an awareness of the greater reality that I call God, when I take the time to be holy. Prayer helps me to focus my mind and heart on this greater reality. Meditation lifts my soul into an experience of my connection with the Divine Mind and increases my conscious awareness of God, of good, in every aspect of my life.
With a conscious awareness of God as my Source, I know that all I need and desire is readily provided. I know that this is true for me and for you as well. Invest your time in being holy; realize your wholeness. Invest your talents in helping others; realize the peace that surpasses understanding. Invest your tithe in supporting your spiritual source; realize the abundant life that is God’s will for you.
Please know and affirm with us, “I am happy, whole and free just as God created me to be!”
Blessings of peace, joy & love: Rev. Matthew E. Long, Peace Unity Community.

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