HERETIC ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Kingdom

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Luke 17:20 & 21

The apostle Paul wrote, to the Church at Rome, 'Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.' ( Romans 14:17 ) Whether you believe the Scriptures or not, there is much there that speaks to the heart, reminding us that it is within that we must look for the Divine. We are, each & every one of us, according to these same Scriptures, made in the Image of the Creator God. Covenantally speaking, Christianity tells us that, in order to rightly bear this Image, however, one must first accept ( believe in ) Jesus as the Messiah of Israel. Whatever the case may be & to whatever extent, every human being in existence today bears that Image, no matter how well hidden!

The question might well be asked here, 'What IS the Image of God? In the past & as it still continues to be, this has been a matter of some controversy. Some have postulated that it signifies Covenant Life, as above, while others call it the Divine Spark, testifying that it dwells within each of us, even the worst sinner. This blogger, throughout his own journey of discovery, has even theorized about the matter, interpreting this enigmatic phrase as meaning that it was the fact that Adam was given the dominion over the rest of the creation which comprised the Divine Image. This is, for all intents & purposes, a Scriptural interpretation, although it, as well as the apostle's explanation in Romans, simply & plainly says what this Image accomplishes in us, how we act because of its indwelling Power!

Being that this post was meant to be about the Kingdom Within, one might be wondering why the Divine Image has been at the heart of this post, thus far! That's a good question & one that is more far-reaching than one might think; 'if the Image of God is not present, could one inhabit the Kingdom?' On the other hand, 'if all have the Divine Image, do not all inhabit the Kingdom?' 'What IS the Kingdom?' We can speculate that this Kingdom, that which Jesus said is 'within you' is a different dimension, one in which the Creator God dwells, or one might simply say, with the apostle Paul, above, that it is 'righteousness and peace and joy'. This explanation actually fits very nicely with Jesus' words throughout His ministry, describing it as anything from 'leaven' ( Matthew 13:33 ) to someplace where the saints, those following Jesus, would 'sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob' ( Matthew 8:11 ). In other words, the Kingdom of God, or Heaven was not something one needs to look for outside him or herself, but rather is evidenced by an outward manifestation, peace that only comes from from the heart, or innermost being!

In many places throughout the Greek Scriptures, Jesus spoke of this Kingdom as something they would 'enter' ( Matthew 19:23 & 24, 21:31 ) & preached the nearness of it ( Matthew 12:28, Mark 1:15, et al ), but it is also spoken of on a more esoteric level, as something that would be manifested through the outward actions of its inhabitants! When Jesus told the Pharisees that the Kingdom was within them, one might immediately object & rightly so, that because they rejected Jesus as their Messiah, they ultimately did not inherit the Kingdom. In this enigmatic passage, though, while Jesus was alluding to their covenant status as the Israel of God, He was clearly proclaiming that the Kingdom was not something that would 'come', at least, not like they were expecting, but that it would be manifest from the heart, with deeds of righteousness goodness, mercy & peace!

The Kingdom, then, is really the manifestation of the Peace Within, the understanding that the Divine indwells us; as Jesus said ( Matthew 10:28a ), 'do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul'. This biology may perish, being mortal & prone to death, but our inmost being, our spirit, is immortal, being of One Essence with the Creator, Giver & Sustainer of all Life. This is where Peace, the Peace that passes all understanding, comes in; the startling realization that no other can harm us should give us pause. If none can harm us, who are the very Image of the Creator God, then should not that allay any fear & allow us to manifest only Love? Scripture says that 'God is love' ( I John 4:8 ); since, then, we are made in the Divine Image, does it not follow that WE are Love?

The Divine Image may rightly be noted, then, as dwelling in all, though all have not realized this capacity. It is through our manifestation of the Kingdom Within that those who have not yet realized, for whatever reason, their true potential will come to the understanding of what it truly means to partake in the Divine. Love, not fear, will be the order of the day, because as the Kingdom expands its borders, through us & those who receive our vibrations, so will the realization that Peace & Love Reign supreme! Fear will no longer be a factor, for as the Scriptures also say ( I John 4:18 ), 'perfect love casts out fear'. The writer went on to explain, in the context of his writing, that fear comes from torment, such as they were experiencing in their mortal ( biological ) bodies at the time.

If we would learn not to fear what things may come, in time & place, upon these mortal bodies, then would we be more apt to manifest the Kingdom Within, through the Love that is perfected in us. As we, ourselves learn not to fear, but manifest that Perfect Love, it will flow out through our fingertips to touch the world around us. Realizing that we may not always, with these eyes, see the intended results, we may rest secure, knowing that Love is the Way!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Destiny's Child

With her last breath, Destiny gave one final push! Depleted of its natural resources, the body that she had become accustomed to was finally shutting down, although she had somehow found the strength to carry this new one until it was ready to breathe life into the cold, dark world that she called home. The life that she had lived, up until about a year ago, anyway, was one that would seem all-too familiar to many of us; the busy schedules, the stress & the quick, easy meals ( usually fast-food or out-of-the-box ) had taken their toll on Destiny's body, already well-worn by the passage of Time!

Life, in this day & age especially, was not easy! Destiny had, by her own choice, moved half-way across the country at a fairly early age & so, had been forced to face many hardships & trials on her own. Oh, she had made some friends along the way, but too many of them were fair-weather friends, so when those trials & hardships set in, those 'friends' that Destiny had hoped to be able to count on were not to be found! When she seemed to be on her last legs, so to speak & was looking up at life from the bottom of an oak barrel, her knight in shining armor had appeared & as she was going under for the last time, gently grasped her hand & pulled her back from the verge of the abyss, setting her back on her feet & granting her a new lease on life.

For maybe the first time in her short life, Destiny finally felt happy! She had been so used to relying on herself that when Chris came along, it was like a breath of fresh air; she had purpose again, thanks in part to him. When Destiny found out that she was pregnant, she was hesitant, at first, fearing that this might spoil  the happiness she had so recently found. Finally gathering the courage to tell Chris, she was pleasantly surprised when Chris responded in a positive way, joyously telling her that he had been looking forward to the day when he might father a child. With such a response, Destiny was supremely happy! Having waited a lifetime for such a divine purpose, Destiny felt accomplished & what's more, she looked forward to the time when she would hold this new life in her arms & nurture it in such a way that the child might enjoy a better existence than she had, at least, up till this point.

Chris was a police officer; that's how he had found her: she had taken refuge in the bottom of a bottle & he had gently pulled her from its grasp & carried her out from its cold comfort to a more sure foundation. He showed her a better way, that it was within that we must seek our way, our purpose, even our own happiness! Destiny had lived her life, up to this point, with the understanding, the belief, that we must look outside ourselves for salvation from the hardships & trials of life, or even for our happiness. Chris ( short for Christopher ) had made her realize that, though he made her happy, it was her own choices that had kept her from this bliss for so long!

With a child on the way, Destiny began to see that the life she had led before her knight in shining armor, her salvation, had come along, was not the best one she could have chosen. She had gone the way of the world, getting caught up in the business of life in this day & age, swallowing the American Dream, hook, line & sinker. Too late now, one might say, realizing the toll her former choices had taken on her body, Destiny began to pursue a more healthy avenue. She began eating better, taking time to care, not only for her own body, but for the new one she was growing inside! Thanks to her husband, her protector, she was able to leave the rat race & focus her time & energy on caring for the new life she had been granted.

Destiny's life seemed to finally be on the right track; she had been restored to love, she was finally happy
& carrying within her own body a new life, with the promise of a fresh existence, free of many of the hardships & trials that she had experienced in her own relatively short existence. However, it seemed like the bottom had dropped out when the startling & most unwelcome news came one day; she would have to persevere on her own once more! It seemed like Life had taken one of those twisted turns & she was alone again!

Once she had gotten over the initial shock, Destiny, bolstered by the promise of a new life & a fresh start, determined to uphold the child growing within. She shouldered her responsibility, her love for this new life & with the comforting realization, thanks to her protector, that true happiness comes from within, Destiny made the choice to, if need be, give up her own life in this plane of existence that the child within might have the chance to better experience this blessed existence we call Life!


Opening her eyes for the first time, Sarah experienced a sudden rush of deja vu, as if somehow, she had been here before! Although she was not quite certain if she was ready to leave the comfort of her warm & cozy shell, she nonetheless welcomed this new, though familiar experience. Already aware of her surroundings, she startled those who had helped deliver her from her mother's womb, by gazing, almost surprisingly alert, at her surroundings, barely uttering a sound, as she seemed to calmly take it all in!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Energy Sharing

'Knowledge is Power'!

Most recently in this country, politically speaking anyway, we have witnessed what is often termed, 'the transfer of power'. While it is very arguable that the so-called 'leader of the free world' ( POTUS ) is simply a figure-head, a 'puppet' even & that the powers that be never really were transferred, but simply changed their 'face', to give the people of thinations the illusion of 'choice', the 'transfer' seems to be going fairly smoothly, despite the childish bickering about the price of tea in China ( or is that Russia? ). It remains to be seen, one might observe, whether any 'good' will come of this new figurehead, or whether 'we, the people' will be subjected to more of the same: this blogger reluctantly predicts more on the order of the latter!

The simple definition of 'power' is 'the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality; for instance, "the power of speech". A secondary definition should give us pause, though; 'the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events; for instance,
"the idea that men should have power over women." The notion that one should have power ( in this way ) over another is not foreign to humanity; the history of humanity, from its very genesis, has been an exercise in this pursuit! Biblically speaking, the 'serpent' in the Garden ( Genesis 3 ) used this power to his own advantage: Cain used his power over his brother by murdering him & the list goes on & on.

There can be no question that all of humanity has this power, not only to direct the course of their own lives, but to directly or indirectly influence the lives & choices of others. In some sense, there is nothing wrong with this talent, or ability, for it is naturally given by the Creator, but too often, especially for those in an unnatural relationship with their Creator, this power is used in a selfish way, to meet their own agenda, to satisfy their own lusts, without empathy, or care for how it might affect others. For ages, human beings have striven to assert this power over others, usually without stopping to consider if they should!

The Energy of which we are all composed, both what we call 'good' & 'bad', or Yin & Yang, if you will, is that which gives us this power! As always, though, we are faced with a choice when it comes to using this power, or expressing this energy. Many, as we can all bear witness to, use their energy in vain pursuits, exhausting themselves in the process & emptying themselves of their natural empathy & seeking their own pleasure, begin instead to use their power in a wrongful, even hurtful way, influencing others to fulfill their own lusts!

Not all who so misuse the Energy given them by the Creator do so in a purposefully evil, or hurtful way; most are ignorant of the fact that this behavior is unnatural! Human beings, to a large extent & for whatever reason, seem to have missed the forest for the trees. We have largely forgotten what our true nature is & rather than focusing on the Love, or good Energy, that surrounds us, we allow ourselves to be driven by Fear, or what might be called the 'bad', or negative Energy!

Many have chosen to throw off the yoke of bondage, not only from their own hearts, but from the hearts those with whom they have to do! By recovering their natural empathy, they have discovered that they themselves, as purveyors of the Divine Energy, have the power to change lives, not by using that power to subjugate & control, but by influencing others, through the Spirit Within, to choose for themselves what is good & right. Realizing our true nature & that we were all created with the same Energy, it becomes apparent to us that we are all in the same boat, all trying to do what seems best for us & for our loved ones. The choices we then make are tendered, not just with a thought for our own good, but with a mind for the betterment of all humanity!

Power, like the Energy that drives it, is never transferred, it is simply shared, or spread! One may give 'the reins of power', so to speak, over to another & many have ignorantly done this, not realizing their own power, but even though it seems like they have relinquished their power, the power remains in their own hands, to direct their lives as they will! Fear has driven many to the brink of despair, or at least held them in ignorance, thinking that their own power has transferred to another, whether for good or ill & that they have no choice but to blindly obey ( subjugation ), or face the consequences!

Those that know, have used this knowledge to begin a work, first, in  themselves, then in the 'world' around them. They have the Power, through the Spirit Within, the Energy that drives us all, to change the course of events! 'The powers that be', those behind the figureheads of the world, pulling strings & misusing the Energy they were given, have simply not become aware of their true power! It seems they believe power equals control & that by subjugating others under them they show their power, but they have forgotten where the reins of True Power lie!

True Power is not using our Energy to subjugate or control others; True Power is allowing that Energy to flow through us, directing it, through our choices, into the world around us, spreading our influence, sharing our power! When humanity remembers the Source of its power & its True Nature, then we will see wars & rumors of wars cease, power will no longer be transferred but shared, subjugation will be a thing of the past & the world will be transformed into a Garden, once again!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Manifesting Destiny

Sarah was a smart little cookie! For one who had lost her mother at such an early age; she had grown up to be a beautiful & well-balanced little girl as well.At around one year of age, Sarah was walking & talking, one could see by the way she cocked her head that she was listening intently when a wise one spoke, her intent was obvious when she made her little strides, both inside the house & out & when she spoke, everyone gathered around, because for a little one year old, Sarah had a good vocabulary & gave people a lot to think about!

Most people spend their lives waiting; waiting for something great to happen, whether it be the love of their life, a new job, or winning the lottery! Destiny's child was not waiting for anything, except maybe for her body to grow into her spirit. She could walk & talk just fine, but because of her body's diminutive size, she still had a bit of trouble, sometimes, keeping up with the adults. The vocabulary she manifested, though, especially at such an early age, was astounding, unbelievable, even! Admittedly, because of the size of her mouth & her extremely young vocal cords, Sarah had a bit of difficulty with pronouncing the bigger words, but talk she did & act, when her small body would cooperate.

Thanks to a rich uncle that her mother had never mentioned, Sarah had just missed growing up in foster care! Ordinarily, for one so young, almost a newborn, the child in question would have been okay, not really ever having known his or her mother, but Sarah, from the moment of conception, had always known that she was no ordinary child. She knew that if her life was to go the direction she wanted, she would have to make it so; no waiting for others to make the right choices so that she could be happy, no waiting for things to happen; Sarah knew that if she wanted to make a difference, she couldn't waste any time. Her body would eventually catch up, but till then, she was going to get on with it!

As Sarah's body grew, the walking & talking did become a little easier, she became more verbose & easily understandable & she seemed to exhibit, rather interestingly, many of the same traits her mother had, even though she had passed away at such an early age! She was aware, already, of many things that ordinary children take for granted, for instance, that though her uncle's wife was not truly her mother, her milk was just as satisfying, her breasts just as succulent & comforting & that her uncle was not nearly the jerk her mother had always thought him to be. Sara had a good life; even though it had been such a bumpy transition, so to speak, things had actually gone fairly smoothly for her. Her mother's brother lived almost half a continent away, but when Sarah arrived at her new home, it was almost as if she had never left! Things that should have been new to her experience, people, places & things, were like an old, familiar blanket!

It was almost as if Sarah's uncle was making up for lost time! He recognized in this little child the chance to show the love he'd always had for his sister, but had never quite learned how to show. The little girl had everything she needed; as her body continued to form around her indomitable spirit, both her aunt & uncle encouraged her every advance, while showering her with all-important love & feeding her growing body with the most necessary nutrients.

For a little girl of one years age, Sarah had quite the social life; it's hard to imagine, but she had more callers, more friends than her aunt & uncle did! She was a very caring & sharing spirit, of course, so her friends soon became those of her caretakers, but it never ceased to amaze all those around her, how easily she attracted people of the same caliber, with the same energetic spirit, even though their bodies were often far more advanced in years than hers.

Even with her busy social calendar, Sarah was still a child; though her mind never tired of interacting with others, her little body was still forming, so she took naps throughout the day, sometimes even while visiting! While her body got the necessary rest, Sarah's brilliant mind was melding with any who chose to participate, sharing memories, information & other kinds of knowledge. With her penchant for symbiosis, Sarah got as good as she gave & so her status among those who knew & loved her never waned, but continued to blossom & grow, opening wider to the Energy she manifested!

For the second time, Sarah's birthday was nearing! Her uncle & his wife had always been the traditional sort, at least till Sarah came along, but they still felt like throwing her a party to celebrate her life thus far. She had no problem with this, as it coordinated well with her own wishes to celebrate that day. She had never quite fit in with the whole 'birthday' thing, but, 'Hey'; a celebration of life; that was another matter entirely! Life, even life in a small body, was something to be celebrated: she had a voice, a new perspective & with her new body, it was like a new beginning!


Sarah's Story is almost purely a work of fiction, but my wish is that it will resonate with your spirit as well as it has with mine! Many of us are waiting for a miracle & while I believe that miracles DO happen ( witness Sarah's Story ), I also believe that we were given the bodies we have inherited for a reason. If we want to experience life to the fullest, we must go out & live it to the fullest, with all the Energy we possess!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, February 24, 2017

Where Have All the Good Men Gone, Revisited

Now early[a] in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him;
 and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him,
 "Teacher, this woman was caught[b] in adultery, in the very act."
  Now Moses, in the law, commanded[c] us that such should be stoned.[d] But what do You say?
John 8:2-5

Lately, the subject of child-murder, more popularly known as abortion, has surfaced, namely on my personal FaceBook page!  I posted an article by a woman who had an abortion in favor of a child that she already had, justifying her act of murder by saying that it wouldn't have been fair to the one she already had if she kept them both. Now, given the fact that she had already chosen to at least risk conception by having sexual intercourse in the first place, most people with any sense in their heads would immediately note the inherent self-absorption in her seemingly careless actions!

One argument that has come up when it comes to the subject of abortion has to do with the other side of the coin, where too often the searchlight of judgment doesn't fall! The men who have engendered these unwanted children, whether by rape or otherwise irresponsible & reprehensible actions are not beyond the pale of responsibility, yet they seem to get away almost scot-free, definitely not earning the moniker, 'murderer', at least not to the extent that many women do. Whether this is merely an oversight, or whether it is loosely based on the pharasaical notion described in the verses above, it is not right that women should bear the responsibility alone when an unborn child is murdered!

'It takes two to tango!' A bit of a cliche', this old familiar phrase, in this context, simply states that a woman cannot conceive on her own. Now, Science & Technology have devised a way for a woman to conceive without using the normal means, a man, but even this practice still requires the sperm from a man. When a man & woman come together, conception does not always occur, especially with the aid of contraceptives or prophylactics ( condoms ), although these are not 100% effective. While it is true that because men are often more physically imposing than women ( not always the case ) & thus are often overbearing, especially when it comes to rape, the men do not bear the responsibility alone; like it or not, many rape victims are not so much the victim, whether because they knowingly place themselves in 'sticky' situations, or simply because they push the man to the point where he is ready to explode & then cry 'rape' when he takes full & knowing advantage of the situation: either way, a choice is made by both parties, for good or evil!

Rape is viewed by many who claim to be anti-abortion as a valid reason to abort, or murder the unwanted child. Although this is often a matter of great controversy among many, the argument can be nullified simply by remembering that it's all about choices: the choice, even post-rape, post-incest, or whatever the case may be, of whether to allow the child to grow, or to cut short its life with no chance of parole. Arguably, sometimes those who murder their own offspring may be doing the child a favor by not bringing him or her into this world or subjecting them to a less-than-perfect situation, but murder is murder, no matter the extenuating circumstances! 

In this day & age, as we have explored previously in this blog ( Where Have All the Good Men Gone? ), good men are too often few & far between! This is not to say there are no good men anymore, but they seem to be getting harder & harder to find. Blame the Culture, as most do, but ultimately, much of the blame must be laid at the feet of organized religions, most notably Christianity, Judaism & Islam. In all three of these religions, maybe less so in Christianity, the status of women has been subjected to that of a man & her role most often viewed simply as a vehicle for procreation. Although women, particularly, maybe primarily in Christianity, have enjoyed an elevated status, almost equal to that of men, they are still forced to be subservient to men in most cases. This is not to say that organized religion has led to or allowed for the rape & abuse of women (  though in some cases that may be arguable ), but because of these practices, as well as the self-serving spirit of this day & age, many men have viewed women as simply an outlet for their frustrations!

It's only natural, biologically speaking, for a man to long for sexual intercourse: women too, are naturally beset by this 'urge'! Though perfectly natural & ordained by the Creator, it too is a matter of choice; choice as to when & how, even 'if'. Too many, especially in this day & age of  'free sex', with the aid of contraceptives, find it easy to be irresponsible & when the contraceptive fails, whether through a broken condom or whatever, to upgrade the irresponsibility to culpability by the act of murder!

The rape of women, though reprehensible & condemnable, is a sad fact; even though in most cases ( arguably ALL cases ), the woman is an innocent party, the choice to murder the even more innocent & helpless offspring of that 'union' is more reprehensible! To claim 'It's MY body' is the height of self-absorption, because the body in question is not that of the woman, though it is one she helped create; it is the body of an innocent child, one that, through no choice of his or her own, was conceived & brought to bear!

'Two wrongs do not make a right' is another familiar old cliche' that can & must be brought to bear here! For a man to rape or otherwise unlawfully impregnate a women is very wrong, but to add to that the crime of murder, no matter how convenient or legal, is only to compound the guilt. Murder is murder is murder: no matter the extenuating circumstances, for one to compound the guilt in such a manner only serves to spread the blame. The choice to commit rape is certainly wrong & while women are most often the unwilling victims, for them to turn around & for whatever reason, make the choice to terminate the often resulting pregnancy is equally wrong, being murder!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Sacrifice of Self-Love

Love, as anyone who has ever experienced the 'softer side' of it can tell you, is 'A Many Splintered Thing! When I say, 'the softer side', I'm referring of course, to the emotional 'feelings-based' version, the one that can change as quickly as the weather. Love, as we've often explored before in this blog, is, first & foremost, an action, though often based on feelings. Many recognize love as a choice, but only some choose to love sacrificially, while others love only superficially, as long as it suits their purpose & doesn't interfere with their plans.

As we near the middle of this month of februation ( look it up ), we should ponder the meaning of love; 'What is it good for?' 'Why should we care?' 'Who is it for?' 'When should we show it?' If love is based on physical intimacy, as some unions seem to be, it's likely that union won't last very long! Even in relationships built on physical intimacy, unless one or the other is willing to sacrifice their desires for the other's, the relationship will suffer harm even more quickly. Sacrifice, when it comes to matters of love, particularly in today's vernacular, is almost a foreign concept; O sure, when the relationship is in its beginning stages, one or both participants may try to make a good first impression, but once the relationship has gotten off the ground, so to speak, it often becomes difficult for the either of the two parties to give way to the other.

Self-love is gaining in popularity, of late! Social media outlets like FaceBook have noted a rise in the awareness of the necessity of loving oneself. Self-love is not a new concept & it's really only common sense to say that, unless & until one loves him or herself, it's not possible to truly love another. Though this idea has been around for centuries, even millenia, institutionalized religion, Christianity in particular, has done much to drive people away from the whole notion, teaching us that we are totally depraved, in essence, teaching us to hate ourselves because we are so depraved that we will not, on our own, choose to do what is just, right & good!

The doctrine of Total Depravity is almost impossible to refute, especially in this day & age, where depravity seems to run rampant! However, much of the problem can be linked to institutionalized Christianity, which has taught for centuries that this depravity will only get worse, until finally Jesus will come back & end it all. This belief, or doctrine has allowed the Institutional Church to sit back on its 'laurels', its Blessed Assurance, so to speak, almost welcoming this depravity as surety of the imminence of the so-called 'Second Coming!

Though the Parousia occurred in the 1st century, just like Jesus said it would ( Matthew 24:34, 26:64, etc. ), many Christians in this day & age do not believe His Word on this account; in fact, Institutional Christianity has taught for many centuries that Jesus has not yet returned as He promised. This in turn has had a detrimental effect on the culture around it & thus we see the degree of depravity that we do. Now, don't get me wrong, we can't blame institutional Christianity wholly; the individual still bears the full brunt of responsibility for their own choices, but institutionalized religion, Christianity in particular, must shoulder some of the blame as well!

Loving one's own self is different than being selfish! In the past, even in this day & age to some degree, it may seem there's not much difference, given the modern definition of love, but the difference is clear; loving oneself enables that one to love others, since it is impossible to give love without knowing what love really is. Selfishness is really almost the opposite of true love, for selfishness is not the love of self, but is more akin to a lust for self & things, even if they belong to another!

We have been taught for centuries that we are selfish, wicked creature & so we are! Humans are not naturally this way, though we have been noted for our tendency to make bad choices. Much of what we have been taught in this area is being discarded as hogwash by many in this day & age, rightly so, but along with it, many have seemingly thrown out the baby with the bathwater; some have gone so far in the opposite direction that they are living in direct contradiction to EVERYTHING they were taught. Thus, we bear witness to the 'free-love' of the 60s & the depravity of today!

'Love is not a victory march', sings a famous modern-day troubadour: much of our problem in this day & age, one might say, is that many view love as a conquest, something to be won! Really, if you think about it, when a person so loves themselves, it will be obvious to that significant other that, 'here is someone who knows how to love, who knows what love really is!' The love that a person has for another will be proportionate to the love that one has for him or herself. Any attempt to love another will not last unless one first learns to love oneself & I speak to myself here, more than to anyone else.

Many relationships fail because, 'I just don't love him or her anymore'! This is sadly true, largely because the love shown is equal to the love held & the willingness or unwillingness of either party to capitulate, or sacrifice for the good of the other. Here again though, one must understand what love truly is in order to wield it to the best effect. If one person sees love as merely physical intimacy, then that one will think of self-love as selfishness & will manifest this in any relationship that he or she strives to enter into. On the other hand, if one recognizes love for what it truly is, the ability to freely choose to do what is just, right & good, then that one will be able to truly love, not just him or herself, but the other as well!

The choice to love another is, at the same time, both the easiest & the hardest choice anyone can ever make! Love is sacrificial in the sense that we have to give of ourselves in order to love another. If we do not love ourselves, we cannot love another. Many people have a sort of superficial love, a love that might even go beyond those three little words that everyone loves to hear, a love that might flare up when it suits ones own selfish purpose, or fits into their plans.

A love that's built to last, though, must begin with ones own self! If we can but learn to love ourselves unselfishly, not lusting after our own needs & desires above those of everyone else, but treating ourselves with the justice, goodness & rightness that we would have others to treat us with. When love starts with ourselves, only then will it build any sort of lasting relationship.

May we BE the love that we wish to see in others,
Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Revelation of the Son of God; Ad Infinitum

'And I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, begotten, not made, being if one substance with the Father.........'

Was Jesus, who was the Christ ( Messiah ), truly the only ( begotten ) Son of God, as the Bible seems to claim? Jesus claimed to be the Son of God & to be sure, that most famous of verses, John 3:16, says that Jesus was the Creator God's 'only begotten Son'. In this oft-quoted passage, as well as in many others, John used the Greek 'μονογενής', transliterated 'monogenēs', meaning, 'single of its kind, only'. In relating the metaphorical Story of the sacrifice of Issac, the author/compiler recorded that Yahweh told Abraham to sacrifice his 'only  [son ] Isaac'. Now, whether he was simply reminding Abraham that he only had one Isaac, or using prophetic imagery pointing forward thousands of years to Yahweh's own sacrifice of His only ( begotten ) Son, we can rest assured that though John made the point that this Jesus was the only 'begotten' son of His Father, He was by no means the only one; Adam, In Luke's genealogy ( chapter 3 ), was called '[ the son ] of God'; although the words 'the son' do not appear in the original Hebrew, so that it should simply read, 'Adam, of God'; Luke uses the same word structure throughout, saying, for example, that Isaac was 'of Abraham'.

Most Christians will deny the Fatherhood of the Creator God to those who have not covenanted with Him & specifically claimed the name of Christ, or Christian. Although this is biblically defensible, some might argue, living in what might be called 'a post-biblical era', that when Scripture makes the division between 'the children of God' ( I John 3:1 ) & 'the children of the devil' ( I John 3:10 ), we should think, not in terms of 'us versus them', as we have been taught, but historically of those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah of Israel versus those who denied Him as such, the Jews, or Israel according to the Flesh. Biblically speaking then, in our Western tradition, even those today who do not accept Him as the very Son of God are denied His divine protection!

According to Scripture, we, as the Church, are the Body of Christ! This glorious fact, although it is easily recognizable as metaphor, should be readily acknowledged as indicative of our Oneness with the Creator God;: the apostle Paul wrote to his brethren that marriage is a picture of this Divine Union. As such then, it may be noted that we, in this sense, are the Son of God! Again, most Christians would have difficulty saying this, as they believe that Jesus inhabits His biological Body in a place called 'Heaven' ( ? ). Since we are the Son of the Creator God, then we, like Jesus was, are 'begotten' of Him & of the same substance with Him. As we are 'spirits having a physical experience', we essentially are all part of the same Energy that was used to create the universe, in actuality, the Creator God Himself!

Some have gone so far as to say that we ARE the Creator God Himself & though we ARE one with Him in both His Divinity & Essence, we are NOT Him! Just as husband & wife become One, biblically speaking, they are yet two separate & distinguishable people: we, having become One with the Creator God, are yet distinguishable from Him, though we ARE of One Essence. As creators ourselves, we even play a 'god-like' role, though on a much smaller scale, what with our intellectual & biological properties. To a somewhat limited extent, we even create life! History, too, is full of examples of the intellectual properties that men & women of old have created!

As the Body of Christ, corporately speaking, we are most certainly NOT the same biological Body in which Jesus walked this earth, almost 2,000 years ago! However, we understand that the apostle, when he wrote this in his letter to the Church, was using the allegorical language that was common to his people. Although Paul referred to the Church in a metaphorical sense, we know that, in a very real sense, Jesus, the Creator God Himself, does inhabit His biological Body, us! John, in his revelation of the Gospel ( John 14:23 ), recorded Jesus as promising, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him'. Though these words were spoken to Jews in the first century ( AD ), they are universal in impact, as true now as then!

It is widely-accepted, traditionally speaking, that Adam, in the Garden, was in covenant with the Creator God! Although this is without doubt, the first time a covenant is specially named & elucidated as such is when Yahweh instituted one such with Abram ( Genesis 15 ). The Adamic Covenant, rather than being based upon a mutual agreement, as was the Abrahamic covenant; the Creator God's covenant with Adam, on the other hand, was not like that one, in the sense that there is no record of Adam having ever acquiesced to any covenant, spoken or otherwise. The Creator God simply placed Adam into the Garden ( Paradise? ) & placed him in charge of it all & brought him a wife: no commitment, nothing, except 'do this & die!'

Much like today, there was such a thing as Natural Law ( AKA, the Laws of Nature & Nature's God ); Adam somehow broke that Natural Law, that unspoken covenant & was removed from ( the blessings of ) the Garden for his pains! We have been taught, traditionally speaking, that he ate from a tree that he had been forbidden, but the allegorical nature of this part of the Story is obvious; the true meaning, however, is not, so we can only speculate on what was meant by 'the tree of the knowledge of good & evil'

Even though Adam broke this first covenant & tried to shift the blame, in essence, to the Creator God Himself, we find that he still enjoyed Divine Protection, as did his descendants ( Genesis 4:15 )! Cain, like his father Adam, broke that Natural Law, as did many after him ( at least one every generation ) & though he suffered greatly because of it, like his father, he still enjoyed favor from the Creator God; in that He promised 'vengeance.........sevenfold'.

Scripturally speaking, there is no denying the fact that the 'sons of God' were those who accepted Jesus as their Messiah! Even in the Hebrew Scriptures, the term was often used to refer to the godly line of Seth, as opposed to the sons of Cain, or for example, 'sons of Belial'. In the Western Christian tradition, even today, we are used to observing the same distinction, referring to ourselves as 'sons of God' & to those who do not share our beliefs as somehow almost less than human!

Jesus was born according to Promise, much like Isaac, thousands of years earlier, was! Yes, the Gospel records, according to prophesy ( Isaiah 7:14 ), that the Holy Spirit would 'overshadow' Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph & that the Child would be called 'the Son of God': many years earlier, the Creator God promised Abraham, 'I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son' ( Genesis 18:10 ). It is widely accepted ( if given much thought at all ) that Isaac was the natural-born son of Abraham, yet the language here used is not unlike that in the Gospel account!

Was Jesus indeed the only begotten Son of God, as our Bibles tell us, or was He simply the Creator God Himself who took the form of a Man in order to redeem His ( covenant ) Creation to Himself? The doctrine of the Trinity makes much of the distinction that Scripture seems to make between the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit; without going to far in theorizing over this matter, suffice to say that if it was simply the Creator God Himself, the Father of all the Living, who took the form of the Man Jesus, then this doctrine seems to fall flat on its face!

Did Jesus walk the earth as the Son of God, in part to show us that human beings could indeed be sons of God? What if, rather than being 'God in Three Persons', the Creator God simply invested Himself into His Creation in order that they ( we ) might realize our innate Oneness with Him? Are we Sons & Daughters of the Creator God, our Heavenly Father, by merit of accepting the biblical Jesus as our Lord & Savior, or are we His children through spiritual generation?

Charles Haddon Shank