Choosing a Master

Once I knew a young man who felt that his parents were too controlling of his life.  As he looked toward finishing high school, he declared, “I am not going to colllege.  I am going to join the Marines.!”   When his parents asked him why, he replied, “To get away from authority figures.”

“WHAT?!   Don’t you know that in the Marines you will have a drill sargeant yelling at you every minute, with complete authroity over ever move that you make, every word that you say?”   they asked.   “I know,” said the young man, “but it will be OK because it will be an authority figure of my own choosing.”    This incident reminded me of the Bible verse, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  (Mat 6:24)  

“But who wants a master, anyway?”  I thought.   “I am  a free man, in charge of my own life.”  Then I would eat too much or the wrong food.  I would get caught up in career to the harm of my family.  I would waste hours watchig T.V. or surfing the web.  In times of clear thinking, I would determine not to do those things again.    “But the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things…”  (Mark 4:19) took over again in a moment and I was back to the same old routine.    “Mammon,” I realized, is not just “riches” or “wealth.”    It can be any worldy, temporal thing, action, or comfort the desire for which takes over my life.

I did, in fact, have a master – one whose goal seemed to be my harm and destruction.   Again and again I tried to take mastery over my own life, the fighting for freedom with my own efforts and will power.  Again and again I was exhausted and overcome by my enemy, the bad master.  Finally, I saw the light.   “If I am going to have a master,”  I said to myself, “let me choose a master who is good!”   Then I turned to the Lord, Jesus, and following His example in the desert, I chose God.   Now, when I say, as He did,  “Not my will, but thine, be done,”  (Luk 22:42), when I adopt God’s will as my own, I am no longer subject to the world’s master.  Instead I can say to my divine master, “I shall walk at liberty, for I have sought thy precepts.” (Psalm 119:45)  

I invite you to choose freedom by choosing to be a slave of God.

The Center

Sink down within yourself – Down below seeing, Down below hearing, Down below feeling, Down into just being.  Here there is a flow of life – flowing in from God and flowing through into eternity.  Keep it pure!

Sustainability

             Had Adam and Eve stayed in the Garden, all would still be sustaining today, for there is the tree of life.  We witness, or give testimony, that we are to return to the Garden – to the place where we Trust God in all things, with all our being, unashamedly naked to the inspection of Him who sees even our deepest secrets.     When we are thus, we become His hoe and spade and pruning shears, ready and willing instruments in His hands “…to dress and keep…” (Gen 2:15) the Garden for Him and His purposes.  

            In all things let us live humbly, simply, patiently, generously, and gratefully.  Let us yield our natural lives to Him, accepting His invitation to share in spiritual life with Him.   This was the life of Adam and Eve when God gave them dominion of all the earth.   It is only in this eternal, self-less life that we can be properly exercise that dominion.   

Is the Bible Literally True?

The other day a someone asked me, “Is the Bible literally true?  

As a Friend (“Quaker”), I recognize that what is True exists beyond what I know, even beyond what I believe.   So my answer went like this:

How could I possibly know?  Where was I when God laid the foundations of the earth?  (from Job 38:4) I cannot confirm nor contradict the truth of events reported in the Bible.  All I can declare as true is that I have encountered One who fits the Bible’s description of God.  

I have experienced the condemnation and expulsion, bit by bit, of evil in my thoughts and deeds as was done to the nation of Israel in its 40 years in the wilderness. 

I have seen that it has been my desire, like Adam and Eve, to judge for myself what is right and wrong, that has tricked me into labeling what is pleasant as “right” and what is unpleasant as “wrong.”  Oh, how much trouble I have caused that way!  How I wish I had always remained innocent and trusting, like a little child, that I might enter into the kingdom of heaven, which is so close!  (Mat 18:3, Mar 1:15)

Once I was was literally groveling and writhing on the floor in battle with a dire temptation.   How powerfully I wanted to follow my desires!  How terrible the consequences would be for many others if I did!   Suddenly, there beside me, kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane, was Jesus, attacked by even greater temptations.    “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” He said (Luke 22:42)  I repeated his words to God and my temptation was instantly and permanently removed!

I could go on.  The point is that I cannot say that every single word in the Bible is “true,” especially an English word translated from some ancient language.  What I can say is that the story of God’s work in history as an allegory for His work in my heart and life, is true.  The good news of God’s Word and Light, Jesus the anointed One, present with me and within me is true, “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.John 14:17.

I exhort all, not in criticism but with love, to look within for this Spirit, the divine Light, and to let it reveal truth to you.

 

 

Where do good and evil come from?

If there were no human beings on this material earth, there would still be hurricanes and balmy summer days.  There would still be wild fires and plagues.  There would still be bounties of fruit and fresh springs of water.  For the rocks and seas and birds and trees, some of these events would be beneficial and some would be harmful, but none would be good or evil.   They would just be the material world at work.

Now add human beings.  All these natural things would happen just the same.   Some people might benefit, some might be harmed.  Some people might be happy about them and some might be unhappy.    But the events themselves would still be just that, natur

 

Is there a Quaker creed?

A “creed” is defined by Webster’s as, “A brief authoritative formula of religious belief.”  

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith,” (Heb 12:2) Friends deny any human “authority” over that faith. 

A second-hand man-made “formula”, however fervently believed and recited, is of no more value for eternal life than the scriptures were to the Pharisees.   “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”  (Acts 4:20)  Friends’ religion is a witness to personal and corporate, direct experience of the inward, resurrected Christ.

2019 National Day of Prayer

The following was the introduction given at the Middleburg Heights, Ohio 2019 National Day of Prayer event

The theme for today’s National Day of Prayer is, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you.” John 13:34 That is a wonderful thought, that all people would love one another, but what did Jesus mean by “as I have loved you?” Did he mean the love that a child has for a candy bar? The erotic love of a man and a woman? The indulgent love of grandparents for a toddler?

Jesus gave this command to His disciples just after He had washed their feet to give them an example of the love He meant – a love that wills what is best for the other (not necessarily what the other would like at the moment).

How else did Jesus love His disciples? He radiated love to them so strongly that when He called “Follow me,” they dropped their fish nets, walked away from their families, and joined a life of complete trust in, and dependence on, Christ. Even when He sent them off to preach, with no food, no money, no change of clothes, His love provided, and they lacked nothing.

Jesus loved His disciples in a way that totally transformed their lives – from lives toiling in and for the world to lives lived eternally in the spirit.

What does all this have to do with our day of prayer?

We look upon the immensity and complexity of the universe that God has created, and the natural laws by which He constantly maintains it, and we pray in awe.

We look upon the miracle of life, the way in which all other living species complement and sustain each other according to God’s laws. We consider the gift God has given us to share in this life, and we pray in gratitude.

Then we look upon the world of human beings, the only species that may disobey God’s laws, and we see hunger, exploitation, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, wars … and we pray in remorse. “For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blaspheme, pride, foolishness.” (Mar 7:21) “From whence come wars and fighting among you?” (Jas 4:1) “All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mar 7:23)

So as we pray today for the many ways in which we would like to see God’s kingdom come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we must pray first of all for Christ, who dwells within each person as a seed, to rise up and take control and deliver us from the evil within ourselves, as He has the power to do when we submit. For the Kingdom is at hand, and it grows here on earth as, one by one, we yield ourselves to His will, to be done in our hearts and in our lives. Then we can love one another as Christ has loved us.

Quaker Worship

Deep within there is a place
Beyond the reach of time and space,
Where worries pale and demons flee
Confronted by Eternity.

And some one there who calls my name
Tells me like Him to be the same,
The body’s death is not a loss
When soul finds life upon the cross.

There is no need for spoken word
Where Christ’s own voice within is heard.
No choir’s hymn, no organ’s chord
But soundless anthems from the Lord

As received by Conrad Lindes 4/1/2019

Greed in Government?

In the wee hours of this morning, I could not sleep. I felt oppressed by the flaws of our political state. Politicians of both major parties are running up a huge national debt. Their primary concern seems to be to keep themselves in office, not by earning majority votes by voting for laws that benefit the majority of citizens, but by using bribes and kickbacks from special interests to buy votes with “earmarks” for those special interests and with “entitlement” programs which, in the guize of helping the less fortunate really addict them to government largess. Surely the end result of this way of doing things is the bankruptcy of our nation, with terrible suffering for all.

What, I wondered, can I do to help turn things around? How can I be part of the solution? Then I asked myself, am I part of the problem?

The underlying motive of our current national politics is the desire of people to get income that they have not earned through producing goods and services of true value. This desire has a name – GREED. Yes, Senators and Representatives seem, more often than not, to be greedy. The businesses and organizations which lobby them are certainly greedy. But what about people on welfare? Aren’t they taking income without producing things of equal value? What about me, on Social Security? What am I producing of value? And what does all this have to do with my claim to be a follower of Christ?

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemiesMat 14:19 Isn’t greed also and evil, which comes from our hearts? Isn’t there greed in my heart?
Dear Lord, with your Light that shines in my heart, let me see my own greed and rid me of it. Then show me how to turn others to that Light so that they, too, can see and let go their greed. Help me to articulate the peace and joy that are the reward of submission to baptism of Christ, that washes away greed and other evil and makes us able to live together, each as a unique and essential part of His body.

You can’t make me!

“You can’t make me!” I would screech at my big brother when he tried to boss me around.   He would order me to do some chore of his, or to do something foolish so that he could laugh at me, or in some other way seek to rule over me.   My resistance was not just that I did not want to do what he told me, but that I refused to acknowledge that he had any valid authority to give me orders at all.    “You’re not my father!”  I would holler.

Now that I am grown up, though, do I accede to the jurisdiction of the world and its “powers” over my life without a thought, let alone without rebellion?   I get so many orders from this benighted world’s wisdom.   “Be dishonest,” “Be impatient,” “Be judgemental,”  “Get revenge,” and so on.   So many other people, in all walks of life, set an example for obeying such commands.    But then I turn to the light, the Truth.

The author of these orders is not my father.  Why should I listen to him?   He is not even my big brother!    But I do have a Father in heaven, and He tells me His way for me to live: “Be honest,” Be patient,” Do not judge,” “Forgive!”   And I have a big brother who is right here at my side at every moment, not do put me down, but to lift me up, as He himself was lifted up in complete obedience to our Father.  That big brother, Jesus Christ, wants nothing less than for me to be joyfully with Him in the care of that loving Father.

Next time a command comes from the darkness that wants to dominate my heart, let me shout in defiance, “You can’t make me!” and turn to the Light.