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

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Projection or Reflection?

According to the Scriptures, are we to be affected by our environment ( the 'world' ), or are we rather to have a positive effect on the world around us? The answer to that question is abundantly clear if one is honest in their understanding of the Story. By allowing themselves to be affected by the nations around them, rather than leading them into a worship of the Living God rather than mere idols, Israel according to the flesh unleashed a world of hurt upon themselves. The result of their failure, according to Scripture, was the cataclysmic end of their 'world'!

In today's world, it would seem that we face much the same situation; too many people, rather than being the cause of positive change in their world, are instead playing the part of the victim as they suffer under the negative effects that others have caused.

There is quite a bit of discussion surfacing recently about the fact that, largely through ignorance, history has been forced to repeat itself. 'Ignorance', we say, because it is ( mainly ) through forgetting our own history that the world continues to regress, or at least, so it would seem. Scripturally speaking, much of Israel's problem was a result of their failure to learn from their past history. By not learning from the mistakes of the past, much has occurred in our 'world' that might not have happened if more people had taken positive instruction from those lessons. Admittedly & thankfully, not all have failed the test; the success of the Gospel is a great indication of this.

The Gospel, of course, is the Good News that the Creator came to dwell with ( in ) His Creation. The Greek Scriptures tell the Story of how the Creator God sent of Himself ( His Son ) to earth, to awaken His Creation to the fact that they were His true Temple. In the beginning, according to the Story of Scripture, Israel served simply as a reflector ( the moon ) of the glory of the Creator God. With the lightning advance of the Gospel, through the Revelation of the Son of God, the Creator God now dwells within His Creation, as we are the true Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Near the end of the book of Revelation, in referring to the New Jerusalem, or the Holy City, John saw that 'There shall be no night there' ( Revelation 22:5a ). This is indicative of the fact, we may note, among other things, that the moon ( a reflective light ) is no longer necessary, for rather than reflecting off His Creation, the Light of the Creator God shines from within His Living Temple, His New Creation!

The Glorious Fact of 'the Christ in us' seems to have been lost on the majority of Christendom for the past 2,000 years! For whatever reason, the traditional doctrine of a future 'parousia' of the Christ has so infiltrated the Church that most Christians seem to think that rather than having made His Home with ( in ) us as He promised ( John 14:23 ), Jesus has yet to keep His promise to His people. Blame it on religion if you will ( many do ), the sad fact is that many have placed their hope outside themselves, not realizing that it is Within that our greatest Strength lies.

No longer does the Creation ( if ever it did ) simply reflect the Glory, or Image of the Creator! According to Scripture, the True Light is now projected from within the New Temple, His Creation. Although it may be up for debate as to whether this includes the entire Creation ( which this blogger believes ) or whether it is an exclusive right to those who have consciously entered into Covenant with the Creator God, in essence, become Christian, it is what it is. Though not all realize this Glorious Fact, it only needs to be awakened within them for the Light to shine forth in its true brilliance. Even in those who have not yet awakened from their slumber of ignorance, the Light shines through, despite their own weakness.

As we project the Light of the Christ into the world around us, we cannot fail to note a markedly positive change, for no matter how small it may seem, no matter how long it takes, if we determine within ourselves to be the cause of good, the effect must be that we will see good come of it. The Light shone in the Darkness of Jesus' Day & though many of His own people did not comprehend It, still It shone; through His Light, many who were in Darkness were brought, blinking, into the Light!

Scripture tells the Story of Israel. Their many failures were heart-rending, even maddening, but through their stumbling in the Darkness they created, the Light shone through to reveal a brand new Day! These many years later, that same Light shines in us even brighter. Through the choices we make, we can be the cause, effecting the much-needed change in the world around us!

May we BE the change we wish to see in the world,
Charles Haddon Shank


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Christ-Consciousness: the Will to Serve

But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is [ rightly ] judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”[e] But we have the mind of Christ.
I Corinthians 2:15 & 16

A truer statement will never be made than that Jesus was the Christ! Ask ( most ) any Christian & they will tell you, to varying degrees, that Jesus IS the Christ & that He exists still as the Second Person of the Trinity. As the Messiah of Israel, Jesus was Sent of the Father, Scripturally & eschatologically speaking, to 'save His people from their sins' ( Matthew 1:21 ). We in the West, particularly & peculiarly, have traditionally understood this Jesus as being THE Christ, the very Essence of the Creator God; as the Scriptures say, 'God with us' ( Matthew 1:23 ( Isaiah 7:14 ): the apostle Paul wrote that 'God[c] was manifested in the flesh'. This view is not necessarily wrong, for the Christ that Jesus exalted IS the Christ, the Christ of the Father  ( Luke 9:20 ), that dwells in all of us ( John 14:23 ).

It might be truly said that the Christ dwells within each & every one of us, humanity as a whole. Jesus did say, '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', so, to be honest, most if not all Christians would probably have a problem with the universal statement, 'the Christ dwells within each & every one of us, humanity as a whole'. In order to manifest the Christ Within, one must obey the Universal Law which Jesus elucidated, namely that of loving one's neighbor as oneself. To truly love one's neighbor implies a love of the Creator God, or the Divine Principle.The question of whether or not one can truly love another without first loving oneself, or the Divine Principle, may be a matter for another blogpost.

The term 'Christ', meaning 'anointed', might truly be used of anyone; it simply means that one was 'anointed' for a particular purpose & 'sent', if you will, to fulfill that certain purpose. As traditional, orthodox Christians, most would view this 'anointing' wholly in the light of Scripture, as in the baptism of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11 & Luke 3:21 & 22. The Spirit, of course, was His true Anointing.  Jesus' anointing thereby is not something unfamiliar to any Christian, or at least, it shouldn't be! One might well say that it was at that point that Jesus, in fact, became the Christ, although He had been sent, as the Christ, when He was born, some 3o years earlier.

When Jesus was born, according to Scripture, to the Virgin, He was born of the Spirit. His Father, one might say, was the Holy Spirit. In much the same way, we are born of the Spirit when we are awakened to & made conscious of the Christ Within. As the Scriptures also say ( Christians love to quote this passage ), ' I can do all things through Christ[b] who strengthens me' ( Philippians 4:13 ). With the Strength of the Christ Within, as the apostle seems to say, there is NOTHING we cannot accomplish! However one wants to rectify or justify his words here, this might be well be viewed as a Universal Truth. Other Scriptures, like Matthew 17:20, seem to bolster this statement, thus intimating that nothing is impossible ( Luke 1:37 ) for the One who is in Communion with the Creator.

Communion with the Creator God, to the orthodox Christian, usually involves bread & wine, the constituent elements of what is most commonly known as 'The Lord's Supper'. Although these elements can certainly be a symbolic reference to that Communion, they are by no means necessary to it. Jesus told His first-century audience, 'unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you' ( John 6:53 ). We understand, of course, that Jesus was speaking metaphorically here & in no way was He referring to the so-called Lord's Supper. He was reminding the Hebrews of their own history, in other words telling them that unless they accepted Him as the Messiah & realized that in Him was their true Salvation, they had no true Life in them.

We have been taught that Jesus was the only true God: this is true enough, but what does it mean? Jesus was 'God with us', but cannot this truly be said of us as well who have realized the gravity of 'Christ in us'? Is not 'God with us': 'God.....in the flesh', so to speak? Since the Creator dwells within us, in a different dimension, even & since we can do all things through Him who gave us Strength, is it really all that much of a stretch to say, along with Jesus, that He is our Father & thus that we are His Son? As surely as Jesus was the Son of the Creator God, so are We!

When Jesus walked this earth those almost two thousand years ago, how did He live? Was it selfishly, following His own vain pursuits, or did He live His relatively short life in this biology in service to others? Scripture pictures a Man who gave His life for others; in fact, as the Story of the Gospel progresses, we see that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice at the end of His inglorious existence. He very literally laid down His life for even those who despised & rejected Him!

About the Divinity of Jesus the Christ, there can be no doubt. Even though, as Scripture records, He lived a life of sinless perfection, He was a Man who, in many respects, was just like us. His biology, as far as we can tell, functioned just as ours does, yet, through His own choices, He never sinned against His Father. Jesus loved as no man before or after Him has loved. He loved with a perfect love, a love which, also according to Scripture, has been perfected in us ( I John 4:12 ). Since this Love has been perfected in us, we too, may be said to live that perfectly sinless life. Don't get me wrong, we still fail, in this biology, as individuals, to love perfectly all the time, but maybe that's our problem, we tend to think of ourselves as individuals rather than parts of a Whole!?

A Life of Service to the Whole would circumvent those failures; as the Scriptures say, 'love covers all sins' ( Proverbs 10:12 ) .If we would but learn that Love is what enabled Jesus to live as He did, to serve as He did, even to the point of denying this biology, then we too could live such a life as He did & through such a life of service, be exalted as He was. As the Messiah of Israel, Jesus was revealed to be 'God.....in the flesh'. As we follow in His footsteps, being the very Temple of the Living God, may we not rightly claim that Title for ourselves?

Charles Haddon Shank


Saturday, April 22, 2017

I AM,

The very notion that a mere Man could be God is what put Jesus on the cross! Other claims that He made & things that He did just exacerbated the situation, but when it came down to it, what really twisted their knickers was that He, a mere Man, claimed to be God. Jesus, however, never out & out said, 'I am God', so how did those Pharisees get the idea that Jesus claimed He was God? 'Well', one might say, 'He said that God was His Father, therefore making the claim that He was equal to, or One with God'; He also said things like, 'before Abraham was, I AM' ( remember that YHWH told Moses, 'I am that I am' ). So, was Jesus correct in His claims? Could a mere Man be God? More to the point, maybe, can a man ( or woman ) be a god ( or goddess )?

If we can trust our Bible translations, YHWH Himself said, through the Psalmist, 'you are gods and all of you are children of the Most High'. Now, admittedly, these words were aimed at the spiritual leaders of Israel, but, is this not a Universal Truth? Can we not rightly acknowledge, along with the Author, the Great Progenitor, that we are indeed 'gods'?  'Okay', one might admit, 'we may be small 'g' gods, but we are not big 'G' Gods'! What then, one might ask, is the difference? The difference, biblically speaking, is that One comes from the Other, from the same Source, so to speak. Jesus said, 'My Father is greater than I', making the claim that He was One with Father, just as we, at the very core of our being, are One with The Source.

What is a god/God! Well, there are many gods, but, as the Bible says, 'one God'. We may understand this as saying that we are mighty ones ( for this is basically what the word means ), but that there is One mightier than we, the One who, according to Scripture 'made the worlds' & set the stars in 'their courses'. We are undeniably gods in our own right, both because we are children of the Creator & because we are creators! We judge for ourselves what is right or wrong & if we judge according to the aforementioned Universal Law, or Truth, then we manifest our Unity with the Divine.

The Universal Truth that we are all 'children of the Most High' can be an unnerving, even frightening proposition! If all are Children of God, could we in good conscience kill our brother or sister! The argument has been made that only those who have consciously entered into Covenant with their Creator are Children, or Sons of God. However, if we posit that this must be, are we not saying that one makes his or her own decision of whether not to be a Child of the Father? One might well go back into the Story of Israel, beginning with the so-called Adamic Covenant & ask if Adam ever asked or decided to be a Child of God! Did you ask to be the child of your particular earthly father?

Since 'it is what it is', whether one acknowledges it or not, the fact remains! One can deny it till the cows come home, but we are all Children of our Father. Having originated from the Source of All, the fact that we are gods cannot be denied. That we are One with God only needs realization; the Truth is there whether we realize it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not! The fact that not all realize or acknowledge this glorious fact does not change it. Maybe if we treated others as brothers & sisters, they would be more inclined to act in like manner, joining us on the path of realization.

As Christians, we tend to call the Creator 'God'; other religions have a different name for the Source, but it is all the same God, only the perceptions differ. One might liken it to the tale of the four old blind East Indians who tried to describe an elephant. Each one felt a different part of the animal & each one thought that the part he was touching was an accurate representation of the whole. Each was right in part, but only in unity could they truly describe the elephant. So it is with us; because of our different religions, our different beliefs, we say, 'this is what the Creator God is like, not that',: in doing so, we deny the Unity that IS!

The Scriptures again say, 'He has made from one blood every nation of men' & so, taken at face value, we must realize that there is actually one race, the human race & that, like it or not, agree or not, we are all Children of our Father God! Many are the reasons that separate us & continue to do so, religion being the foremost.& while those differences are unavoidable, they need not divide us, or cause us to fear, hate & kill one another. The Unifying Factor is that we all have one Father, one Source, the Great Progenitor, thus, we are all One in Reality, though not so much in Actuality. Unity is not uniformly; a house, for instance, cannot be rightly called a house until all the different parts come together in unity to form the whole. Biblically speaking, the Body, whether metaphorical or biological, is made up of many different members, though it is one Body.

The claim that 'I am God', therefore, should not be made lightly! There is one Unifying Principle, as we have seen, One Source & while we originate from that Source, being a part of it, indeed One with that Source, we are not that Source; we are not the Great Progenitor. Here in the West, as Christians especially, we like to call this Source 'our Father' & those from the Far East, anything from Krishna to Shiva: different aspects, one God.

To call a human being 'God', for the Western Christian especially, seems blasphemous. Indeed, it rather is, because to most, if not all Western Christians, even many Eastern ones, that name is reserved for the Creator alone, for the Originator of Life itself! Since Scripture has called 'mere mortals' 'gods', then may we not rightly make that claim? Have we not the same necessary makeup as did the biblical Jesus, who was, by all accounts, the Son of God, or Yahweh to the Hebrews? We are imbued with the very same Spirit that Jesus was & are told that, believing in Him, the Source of Light & Life, we will do, not only what He did, but that we will accomplish even 'greater works': furthermore, we are told that nothing will be impossible for us! How much more God-like could we get?!

Those who read these words must judge for themselves, but to this blogger, it is clear that there is more to these claims than meets the eye. No, humans did not create themselves; in fact, the mere thought is rather ridiculous, although we do, to a great extent, create our own existence in this biology, by our own words & deeds. The glorious Fact that we, as Christians, are more than certain of, is that there is One Intelligent Designer who is the Origin of All. That we are His Image is abundantly clear as well. What is not so clear to many, sadly, is what exactly that Image is. Is our humanity, our biology, this Image? Again, the reader must judge for him or herself, because the answer comes from within!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Wheel in the Sky

Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel [ was ] on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their workings [ was ] like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings [ was ], as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went. As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims [ were ] full of eyes, all around the four of them. When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, [ because ] there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures[c] [ was ] in the wheels. When those went, [ these ] went; when those stood, [ these ] stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures[d] [was ] in the wheels.
Ezekiel 1:15-21 

Of all the commentaries on this enigmatic passage, subtitled ( afterward ) 'Ezekiel's Vision of God', Adam Clarke's commentary seems to hit closest to the mark when he wrote,
  
 'most probably the wheel within means merely the nave in which the spokes are inserted, in reference to the ring, rim, or periphery, where these spokes terminate from the center or nave. I do think this is what is meant by the wheel within a wheel; and I am the more inclined to this opinion, by some fine Chinese drawings now before me, where their deities are represented as walking upon wheels, the wheels themselves encompassed with fire. The wheel is simply by itself having a projecting axis; so of these it is said, "their appearance and their work was, as it were, a wheel within a wheel."

Being Ancient Near Eastern literature, this imagery from the prophecy of Ezekiel is very likely best illumined from this point of view. In our Western understanding, especially in our haughtiness, most Christians seem to think that the Scriptures were written directly to us. We fail to realize that they were originally written in & about an Eastern, not Western culture: therefore, it only makes the best sense that they must be understood in that context!

As Clarke saw, Ezekiel's vision showed the Creator God as the 'Hub', or 'Source', from which His Spirit, or Energy radiates outward. Not unlike the Sun, which we may use as an analogy, the Light of the Source of All radiates outward from Itself, bringing Life to everything it touches, both metaphorically & literally ( it should be understood that this Light & therefore Life, touches All ). In his record of the Gospel, John wrote, 'In Him was life, and the life was the light of men' ( John 1:4 ). As we may note, this understanding has not been totally lost in the West, but shines ever brighter in the East!

In the popular song from which this post borrows its title, the writer, though focusing on the prospect of seeing his love, seems to view Time itself as the One that keeps him wandering/wondering. He understands, to a certain extent, anyway, that the motion of the Universe is not something we can control, but through which we must pursue our own dreams, whatever dreams may come. We ourselves are not unlike this Great Wheel, as in our own lives, we influence the world around us, in a negative or positive way.

May we not understand Ezekiel's mystical vision as revealing the Glory that we, ourselves, are this 'wheel within a wheel'? As we radiate our own Energy outward from the very center of our Being, we are, in Essence, partaking ( participating ) in the New Creation. When we shine the Light of Love, which we are, into every dark corner, we find that the Glory revealed is yet another 'wheel', which in turn may radiate out from itself the Glory that shines from Within, 'from glory to glory', so to speak.

The Manifestation of Glory comes from Within, that much is clear & incontrovertible! How the Glory manifests, though is our choice; we may choose to selfishly keep that Light to ourselves ( so we see much that is 'wrong' in the world today ), or we may choose to be a 'wheel' & so consciously & purposefully shine our Light for all to see, that they might glorify our Father in 'Heaven' ( Matthew 5:16 ). The Source from which we originate is itself that Light & as we have read, It is 'the light of men'!
'
In Him', wrote John, is that Light, that Light, or Energy, being the Source of all that Is. 'In Him we live and move and have our being', the apostle said to the assembly, for he well understood that it is in this Source that Life consists. We ourselves, as spokes in that Great Wheel, radiate outward from the Hub & so we too become a 'Hub', radiating outwards from our own Source, as 'a wheel in the middle of a wheel'. Thus we become, to use a well-worn analogy, 'like pebbles in a pond'; the circles radiate outward in a resonant & overlapping pattern, creating a never-ending & glorious communion!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Accepting Samahdi

'Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord & Savior?'

If you grew up anywhere near the East Coast or especially what is known as the Bible Belt, I know you or a loved one has heard this question at least once in your lives. Besides the fact that Jesus was a historical figure, according to Scripture, that lived almost 2,000 years ago & was the Messiah ( Savior ) to the Jews; if you take Scripture at His word, the salvation that He brought was realized ( Matthew 1:21-John 19:30 ( Revelation 21:5 ) & the Purpose for which Jesus was sent forth from the Father, the salvation of His people ( Matthew 1:21 ), was fulfilled ( filled up ) in the first century AD.

According to accepted use, the Greek 'Christos', put simply, means 'sent', or 'anointed', but to most or many Christians today, it seems to serve as little more than the last name of the historical Jesus. Thanks in part to bible translators, maybe especially those who based their translations on the Majority Text, this is not surprising, as they have the apostle, the most prolific writer in the Greek Scriptures calling Him 'Jesus Christ' ( or 'Christ Jesus' ): in fact, the Authorized ( King James ) Version, if memory serves, mistakenly calls the time of Passover, 'Easter'. As the case may be, however, in reference to '( the ) Christ', the Anointed, or 'sent ( One )';cannot it be rightly said that we are ALL Anointed, or Sent? Admittedly, ALL do not realize or even acknowledge this Higher Purpose; in fact, there have been & still are, those rebellious children who have striven to do the exact opposite of the Purpose they were sent for!

'Samadhi', a Sanskrit word meaning 'a state of intense concentration achieved through meditation'. Once this state is 'achieved', according to further definition, this also fulfills our Union with the Divine. It should be noted that this does not disagree with Scripture in the least! Although our bibles never say it in those words exactly, it should not be hard to realize that Jesus referred to this Union numerous times, as well as did the apostle Paul. According to the dictionary definition above, samadhi is something to be achieved, but it should be noted that while we must, in a sense, do something in order to 'get there', it is actually more of a realization than an achievement.

'Be still, and know that I [ am ] God' ( Psalm 46:10a ). This, in context, was directed at Israel in the midst of their troubles & is yet of great comfort to many today in the midst of their own struggles. To know the Peace of God, 'which passes all understanding', much like experiencing samahdi, one must simply 'be still', in other words, enter a meditative state, in order to understand, to realize that 'I [ am ] God'. In fact, the word 'selah', which we note throughout the Psalms in particular, simply means 'rest' ( meditate ). The Peace of God, then, rests in our 'hearts', or inmost being, only in order to 'know' it, to experience it, one must quiet his or her own mind, in other words, 'Be still'.

Samadhi & its Eastern connotations is often almost abhorrent to many Christians, for various reasons: however, it must be understood in the light of the context of Scripture! Although the Scriptures did not originate in an area that we associate with Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism & the like, it must be understood that, like these religions, this sort of literature does come from a place less foreign to the Far East than to our own Western World. As such then, it may be noted that they may be illumined more by an Eastern, rather than Western light. 

Our Western traditions have taught us, for instance, that we must ourselves accept Jesus as our Lord & Savior, in order to enter the gates of 'Heaven'. Though this concept is not altogether wrong, it does show its Western roots, with our misunderstanding of the covenantal aspects of the culture of its origin. The Greek origins, as well, of our ( Western ) concepts of 'Heaven' & 'Hell', as things we achieve or earn, should help us to realize that much of traditional Christianity has failed to interpret Scripture in its True Light!

As traditional Christianity progresses evermore into a truer understanding of Scripture, we cannot fail to realize that, even though we, in our Western world, have been taught to disregard, even to fear the teaching of the Eastern Masters, those who have 'attained' an exalted status, their teachings are not out of accord with our own Scriptures! In order to 'attain' True Enlightenment,  one must accept what the Scriptures actually & plainly tell us about our Unity with the Divine. This is not to say that we should disregard all that our Western traditions have faithfully taught us over the years, 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater', so to speak; however, we should readily & openly examine what they have taught us in the Light of the Eastern origins of Scripture & the Teachings of Jesus.

 'And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all [ peoples ] to Myself.'
Jesus-John 12:32

The Sending Forth of the Son of God, in Jesus the Christ, including His Life, Death, Burial & Resurrection, together with His Ascension, is indicative of Our own Sending Forth. Most Western traditions have viewed the teaching of Jesus in the passage above as relating to anything from an after-death experience where we will join Him in our own concept of 'Heaven', to a merely spiritually partaking in His Death, Burial & Resurrection , also know as 'water baptism'. Our own Ascension is relegated, therefore, to the after-life, according to most if not all of these Western traditions. It should not be surprising, then, that most, if not all, Eastern traditions ( religions, if you will ) teach that we have ascended, that it is in The Attitude of Samadhi that we realize this most glorious fact!

It is difficult, admittedly, in this day & age, to realize that we have 'attained'; there is so much that we note, in our experience, as have gone wrong & continuing to go awry in this world in which we live, that many have given up on it & 'put all their eggs in one basket', so to speak, just waiting for Jesus to come back & rescue us ( again? ) from the mess we've created through our own ignorance. But Jesus said, 'You are the light of the world' ( Matthew 5:14a )!

It is when we truly realize our situation as the Sons of God & the glorious gravity of the words of Jesus, that we truly & most gloriously become 'the light of the world' ( John  8:12a )! Must we accept this most glorious fact in order to shine the Light of His Glory? The answer to that question is manifestly clear. Is is in our own realization & acceptance, though, that we will more readily manifest this exalted Truth.

May we learn to ever recognize & realize,
Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Meta Charge; the God Within

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; 
and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
John 14:12

 This may be one of the most enigmatic passages in Scripture! How will we do greater things than the Son of God Himself? In context maybe, some may rectify these mysterious words by reasoning that Jesus was referring to the growth of the early Church as indicative of the 'greater works' His Disciples would accomplish. Others may even place the fulfillment of this prophecy into the future, attributing it to our perfected state, after Jesus' supposed 'second coming'. Whatever the case, do not physicians today, at least biologically speaking, have the ability, through Science & Technology, to do many of the things that Jesus did? But He said we would do 'greater works'!

The many different religions of the world, to whatever extent, all have different concepts of & names for the Creator of all life. Some may refer to Him/Her/It as Allah, YHWH, Krishna, or even simply, God.The American Indians, what most in their political correctness call 'Native Americans' refer to this Source of All as 'The Great Spirit'. Whatever word these different religions use to refer to their God, 'it is what it is'; the Creator God is THE Source of all Life, the Energy that makes up the Universe, or multiverse, as the case may be!

It has become clear to this blogger that we are more than what can be seen, even through a microscope. Our humanity is undeniable, but what drives that humanity, what sets & keeps it in motion is beyond the reach of even the most powerful microscope. It is the Source which powers All, the Energy that sustains all Life, through Whom we 'live and move and have our being' ( Acts 17:28 ). Our biological bodies are simply a part of 'us'; they are merely what houses our spirit/Spirit. Notice, I did not say they are 'the prison-house for the soul', as some have accused us! All I mean to say is that we are not mere human beings; first & foremost, our Origin is with the Source, the Originator of All. As Jesus said, 'My Father is greater than I' ( John 14:28); we are not the Source of all Life, though we ARE One with that Source.Using the same Greek word ( meiz┼Źn ) in both instances, was Jesus implying that we would do 'greater works'' than the Creator Himself?!

I must say, before I began to open my mind to the possibilities, that when people would approach me with the notion that we, ourselves, are 'God', I would immediately rebut their ridiculous proposal with something like, 'I didn't put that mountain there; did you?!' Approaching the subject with a ready mind, though & using our 'God-given' logic, is it truly that ridiculous to understand that we do create our own existence, biologically speaking? We have created the circumstances of our own lives, to a large extent. Now, there are certainly things that seem to be beyond our control, but are they really? Things do not just happen; it is through the engine of choice that people are motivated to do this or that, one thing or the other. It is by choice that we decide to eat one thing or the other; one may taste better to us or be more convenient, while the other may take a bit longer to prepare & may not be as tantalizing, but on the whole is more nutritional.  Is is through our choices that we create our reality!

Before I go too far down this path, let me just clarify that there are actually some things that ARE beyond our control, at least, biologically speaking. For instance, you might say, 'I did not choose to be born into this body that is wracked with whatever particular disease, or has a genetic predisposition to...............' This may be true enough, biologically speaking, but are we not more than this biology?

If we take Jesus at His word, assuming that His meaning has not been 'lost in the translation', what are we to understand by 'greater works than these he will do'? Are we left with either the early growth of the Church or some future vision? Can we indeed do more? Christians love to quote Philippians 4:13, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' & while there may be some debate over exactly what the apostle meant by 'all', it is safe to assume that 'nothing will be impossible' for those connected to or in Communion with this Source. Here again, of course, we must take into account the context of His words, while at the same time understanding that His true intent might have gotten 'lost in the translation'.

The notion that we could simply call forth from the grave one who has been dead for four days, restore a limb, or the eyesight of one born blind is utterly fantastic to most of us, but Jesus said it would be done! Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus was not dead, but simply sleeping; He knew, as He later told His Disciples, that Lazarus' biological body had ceased to function, but by telling the Disciples that Lazarus was sleeping, Jesus was not lying to them or giving them false hope; He was reassuring them that Lazarus was more than his biology. The Disciples, like many or most Christians today, could not understand this glorious fact & so Jesus stooped to their level, so to speak, telling them 'plainly' that Lazarus had died.

Getting back to the point, it is difficult for us, in our humanity especially, to realize the magnanimity of Jesus' words. Since we are told we will accomplish 'greater works' than Jesus, God Himself, then why is there no historical evidence of it? What is hindering us from realizing our true potential? My contention is that there are those, even biologically speaking, who have done, not only what Jesus did, but have accomplished these 'greater works'. 'Where is the proof?', you may ask: as someone once said, 'the Truth is out there!'

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, April 10, 2017

Destiny's Dilemma

Sarah's mother, when Sarah was merely a dream, was in the process of growing up in a very rural area. Destiny had always felt, from the Time she became aware, that she didn't quite belong. The area she grew up in offered everything necessary for the rearing of a good, healthy body; fresh air, plenty of sunshine, wholesome, home-grown food & a family that loved her. But Destiny wanted more!

Sarah's grandmother had been married to a farmer at a relatively early age & so Destiny grew up in a house of Love, though it was not as she might have wished. She knew, in her innermost being, that her family loved her, but 'damn', they sure had a strange way of showing it. Her older brother, on the other hand; she was pretty sure that he held no love for her. He was always pestering her to 'try harder', as if whatever she endeavored or accomplished wasn't good enough!

Destiny's parents weren't much better; being the super-strict religious types, they were always on her case to 'do better', 'don't do that', 'stay away from THOSE kind of people'! Suffering under such conditions, as she did, she looked forward to the day when she would be able to leave it all behind. Well before her 18th birthday, Destiny had run away from home, unsuccessfully I might add, numerous times. Because of the stranglehold, as she felt it was, that her overbearing parents had on her, she had never made it further than across state lines. Back she came, dragging her feet, but more determined then ever to 'try harder' & 'do better' next time..........................to escape, that is!

Several years later, the day before her 18th birthday, with little but the clothes on her back & with her thumb perpetually stuck out. Destiny set out on her own for the promise of glory in parts unknown! Through many hardships & trials, she finally reached what she thought was the proper destination, a place more worthy of her exalted status than the little podunk town she had grown up in. The city she decided to rest her travel-weary bones in was by no means the largest, but coming from such a small, rural area, as she did, Destiny believed it to be, with all the entertainment value anyone could ask for & endless opportunity for adventure!

The 'adventure' that Destiny had been waiting for her whole, short life had finally come to fruition, but it proved to be a much different manifestation than the Glory she had envisioned. She was forced to seek shelter right away because, not being a careful planner, Destiny had forgotten that her birthday was during one of the coldest times of the year, dead-winter! Even though the area she had chosen to settle didn't get all that cold, when compared to where she had spent her formative years, during the winter months especially, it rained pretty much every day & was quite chilly; the moisture seemed to eat right into her bones!

Destiny was very attractive ( that was her primary achievement ), so when she got to the big city, it wasn't too difficult to get what she wanted, for a price of course. After such a long time on the road ( it was only about a week or so, truth be told ), Destiny was willing to do just about anything to stop running & settle down for a bit. The problem was that she had to do some things that, in her former life, would have landed her in a world of hurt!

For a time, Destiny felt like she was enjoying her Time in the Big City; she was feeling loved, having the fun she'd always felt she was missing & the doors to ecstasy that she'd always known were waiting for her out there somewhere were opening up all around her! Compared to the life she had known previously, Destiny was living on the edge-a place she'd always suspected existed, but was never allowed to seek out. Up to this point in her bodily existence, Destiny had never experienced such freedom. On the other hand, she had never experienced such pain & with every new one, she was learning how un-prepared she really was to make her way through this world.

Sarah's mother was learning that Life was like a bed of roses, very beautiful under the right circumstances, with the proper care, but full of thorns under all that beauty; if not careful, she would prick herself & things could get ugly very quickly! As she began to learn the ins & outs of Life in the Big City, Destiny found that the rose-colored glasses she had been used to looking at life through tended to hide some of the darker, uglier aspects. Before long, she found herself rather missing the security she had suffered & labored under in her former life. The family she had left behind became an almost fond memory as Destiny was forced to accept the reality she had chosen, ready or not.

In the following years, Destiny found herself face to face with many choices that she didn't feel up to, but they were here choices & make them she must! The 'love' she felt she had missed out on for all of her former life ( especially from her older brother ), she had found in this strange new world, but the price for such 'love' was higher than she'd ever expected; the sacrifices she'd had to make, the things she had to suffer to find & keep that 'love' { the first of many ) took a toll on her body, the like of which she had never known!

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Destiny's Story is all too familiar! Many young women & men have left the comfort & shelter of home to seek their fortunes elsewhere, in search of something more. This story is total fiction, but Destiny's Dilemma is not a strange one; the hardships & trials she suffered are not new to many of my readers, either directly or indirectly. It is my wish, that through her story, others may be able to find their way in this world without suffering as she did. Life, as our 'heroine' began to discover, is more than our experience in mere physicality, in this biology! Life consists, not in what we experience in this world, but, as Destiny would have realized, if only she'd been able to quiet her mind sooner, in how we choose to be, to manifest, in our innermost being.

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Kingdom of Heaven

'Yes, Virginia, there IS a 'Heaven'!

The traditional concept of 'Heaven' ( not 'Cloud Nine' & harps ) IS a Scriptural one, sort of, but over the years, there has been much disagreement over its nature. Questions like 'How?', 'When?' & 'Where?' have been the underlying cause of some division in the Body of Christ. It has been fairly well accepted that the way you get there ( 'How?' is by following the Law/Spirit of God, but the question of when we will go there ( wherever 'there' is ) is where we get into the most trouble!

First, to clarify what I mean by 'Heaven' & the fact that 'it IS a Scriptural ( concept)'; there ARE almost countless Scriptures, mainly in the Psalms, that speak of 'Heaven' as the dwelling ( place ) of the Creator God, or 'Yahweh' to the Israelites. 'Heaven', as a study of both the Greek & Hebrew terms will show, simply means 'sky'; it is only by extension ( interpretation? ) that it was taken to mean 'the abode of God'. Because of a classical misunderstanding of the scriptural phrase 'heaven & earth', we in the West have conjured up these fanciful notions of anything from sitting on clouds strumming harps, to our own private mansion in the afterlife. The Scriptural phrase in question refers, as we have explored before, to a peculiar ( covenant ) people, Israel by name, who symbolically, at first, embodied, through the Tabernacle, then through the Temple, the Dwelling of the Creator God with ( in ) His Creation.

Scripturally speaking, then, we should note, with the fulfillment of prophecy, heaven has been brought to earth, since, as Scripture says, 'the tabernacle of God [ is ] with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them [ and be ] their God' ( Revelation 21:3 ( Ephesians 2:22, et al ). Understanding that it is by Covenant alone that this is realized, it should be clear from the outset that, in context, the prophecies ( promises ) of Scripture were, first & foremost, to & for Israel. What is not so clear, however, is who exactly Israel is comprised of, or in other words, who 'Israel' symbolizes. Previously in this blog, I have surmised that 'Israel' was representative, or even symbolic of, all of humanity. In this case, then, when Scripture ( Revelation 21:3, et al ) speaks of the dwelling ( place ) of God being with men, although it refers primarily to New Covenant Israel, it should be understood as referring ( by extension ) to the inclusion of all humanity!

Does all humanity realize this glorious fact? The obvious answer is 'no', but does that change the fact? Again, the obvious answer is 'no'! We might wonder, then, whether because of our religious training ( indoctrination? ) or what, how 'the tabernacle of God [ is ] with men', if this includes all of humanity?! Can one BE a dwelling ( place ) of the Creator God if one is a sinner, who in other words, has not agreed with the Covenant revealed in Scripture? I'm sure we've all heard, as Christians especially, that 'God does not dwell with sin' ( either that, or 'He cannot.......'-of course, here we might run into problems, too ), so, of course, that would mean that only those who have 'turned their life over to Jesus' can be a receptacle for the Holy Spirit, right?

Jesus Himself said, 'the kingdom of God is within you'! Admittedly, He DID say this to the representative leaders of Israel, so that would make sense, but since, as we've seen, Israel itself was representative of humanity, it stands to reason that Jesus was saying that the Kingdom of Heaven is not, in its very nature, a physical, material 'place'; rather, it is a Kingdom of the Heart, of the innermost being. In this context, then, are we not ALL, every human being on planet earth, by nature, spiritual beings? Now, it's true that there are many out there who have been able, through whatever means & to whatever extent, to squelch their spiritual nature, but that does not change the fact that they are, by their very nature, first & foremost, spiritual creatures. I mean, it's not like one's disagreement with or ignorance of would negate their very nature or even the Presence of the Kingdom, right?!

The apostle Paul wrote, 'the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' ( Romans 14:17 ): this WOULD seem to be exclusive, right?! Well, at first glance, maybe, but how many are there out there who do experience peace & joy, who practice righteousness even though they don't claim to be Christians & have no ties with the Organized, or Institutional Church? Maybe they don't show what most Christians would deem due reverence or fear for the Great & Holy Spirit! Can there be true righteousness, peace & joy apart from Christ? Have we alone, as Christians, attained that which the rest of the word has sought after ( in vain? ) for thousand of years, maybe even tens or hundreds of thousands? Is that not the height of arrogance & pride?!

The spiritual nature of every human being is an established fact! That many have all but forgotten this glorious fact is really quite beside the point; 'it is what it is'. Humanity's lack of realization does not change their nature, nor does it preclude them from the Kingdom of Heaven. Now, if they consciously disagree with its principles, those named above, by the apostle, even to the point of fighting against them, they most certainly will not enjoy the Blessings of the Kingdom, but their true nature & the Nature of the Kingdom are immutable!

You may have heard the phrase, 'Heaven is in our hearts', This is very arguably what Jesus meant when He told the Pharisees, 'the kingdom of God is within you'. As 'Heaven' is a spiritual 'place', or dimension, if you will, can we truly say that it only rests within the hearts, or innermost being, of those who have accepted the Messiah of Israel as their own? I think not; the Kingdom of Heaven rests within the hearts ( read 'spirits' ) of every man, woman  & child, if they would but realize it. Sadly, not all do & so it does not manifest in their lives!

The questions of 'How?', 'When?' & 'Where?' have been answered. 'Heaven' is not something we look forward to in the afterlife! It's not even something we seek to attain. It is within us all; we just need to realize it, to choose to manifest it. It is something inside of us, something that is a part of us, of our very being. Every man, woman & child has the capacity to do rightly, to enjoy peace & rest; it's a matter of choice!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, April 01, 2017

In Dreams We Soar; Up Where We Belong

Deothora couldn't quite put her finger on it, but SOMETHING was definitely different! That old familiar feeling, the feeling of soaring through the clouds was back; she knew she had been here before, yet she somehow felt freer than ever before & although she felt more at home than ever before, it seemed that she was soaring above it all, without moving a muscle!

She was expecting to hear the familiar words, 'O, good, you're awake!', but not a word could she hear, not audibly, anyway. It was more like she felt it, in her innermost being; It was all around her & it flowed through her; it was almost as if it was a part of her!

Elothar was nowhere in sight. Actually, speaking of 'different', Deothora wasn't sure if what she was doing could be called 'seeing', physically speaking anyway. As a jumble of thoughts & emotions ran through her head, she finally heard that most comforting & familiar of voices. More of a firm but gentle vibration than spoken words, Deothora heard Elothar's welcome to the depth of her being, 'I AM glad to see you, dear one!' Responding, as it were, with her own vibrations, Deothora's first thought was, 'I'm glad to be seen!'

Although she couldn't help but wonder where she was now, it couldn't have felt more natural to Deothora that she was seeing without the use of her eyes & speaking without using her voice. Here she was, soaring through the clouds ( ? ),. without any exertion at all. Her dragon was nowhere to be seen, but she didn't feel the least bit uncomfortable; quite the opposite, in fact; you might say she didn't feel anything at all! There was no feeling of the wind rushing against her skin, she didn't feel the familiar strength of Elothar's giant, but gentle paw around her; it was as if she was suspended in space, but moving at lightning speed at the same time.

Deothora knew, without saying anything to Elothar, that she was not dreaming! Her previous flights of fancy had ended with her waking to the smell of bacon & eggs, but this time was different; in fact, Deothora had a sneaking suspicion that she was soaring beyond the limits of both Time & Space. 'I wonder.........', she thought & as soon as the thought began to form, her vision was opened; she could see, clear as day, the giant form of her beloved dragon, flying just below & a bit beyond her. She was visualizing Elothar just as she remembered him, wings & all, though he didn't seem to be moving a muscle either!

She felt rather than heard Elothar's gentle rumble, 'Beautiful, isn't it?' As he 'spoke', Deothora visualized the patterns that surrounded them, that enveloped them like a gentle rain. All the different galaxies & more, with their different shapes & sizes were right there, surrounding her, welcoming her to explore them. She could have sworn, almost, that they were offering her the 'keys to the city', so to speak!

Deothora had been here before; the fact of the matter was, she had been here all along, it was just that she had become so accustomed to her regular senses that it had taken a bit to realize it. Deothora was at home here & though she had been so unused to communicating in this way, the thought patterns & vibrations resonated with her; somehow it felt more natural, as if that made any sense.

Out here, where she soared without any effort, Deothora knew that she could be wherever she wished, just by wishing. The thought that she was limited by anything never occurred to her; right here, right now, all she wanted was just to BE! Deothora, through whatever means, had come to the realization that what she had previously known was but a mere shadow of what actually was. Her flight that night would be the first of many that she would experience outside the limits of Time & Space. ( I say 'night', but there is truly no 'night' there, nor 'day'; it just IS! )

Time has a habit of making us feel threatened & therefore we find it hard to enjoy ourselves to the extent that Deothora found herself. If we could simply BE, as Deothora found, we might find ourselves soaring, as she did, high above the clouds & among the galaxies, not weighed down or limited in any material sense, but unburdened by such things, to go where we have only dreamed of venturing!

To return to the limitations of Time & Space, which she had just begun to enjoy her freedom from, Deothora was quite loathe to do, but she was reminded, by a firm but gentle vibratory nudge from Elothar, that return she must, for there were still those lost in that other dimension, those who had not yet been awakened to this Glory. They thought, for this is all they knew, that this existence, glorious as it could be on its own account, was all there was; they had only dreamed, if dream they did, that greater glory awaited them after they departed this world, this life.

Deothora accepted the challenge from her friend, the dragon; she would return to the outer world where she knew she was limited to using her physical senses. Now that she was awake, though, Deothora knew that her life would never be the same. Her experience had taught her that through communication with that inner world, that other dimension, so to speak, that life, though fraught with physical limitations, could be so much more, indeed WAS so much more than she had ever dreamed possible!

The sound of birds chirping told Deothora that she had awakened from her meditational trance. Though it seemed like hours had passed, she had been in that state for no more than a minute. The old cliche', 'Time flies when you're having fun!' came to mind.As she prepared to go about her duties of the day, the words that had been almost unspoken, though she knew they had come straight from the dragon's mouth, came to her & remained; 'BE, just BE!'

Charles Haddon Shank