Reflections at Easter

Like much of the world recently, I was deeply saddened to see the great Notre Dame Cathedral burning. It is sad to see destruction of anything historical or culturally and religiously significant, especially something that has stood as a symbol for Centuries.

Some thoughts, or rather questions, came to me while seeing these reports. Could God have prevented this fire? Could God rebuild this great building? Then followed the greater question: Would God rebuild this building? Not the question of His ability, but Why? What would be the purpose?

Destruction of Human Creations

I have read this week, the words of our Savior about the Temple in Jerusalem being destroyed and raised again the 3rd day. (See John 2:18-21; Matthew 26:61, 27:40; Mark 14:58) We of course, know that he was not talking about the physical temple, but His own physical temple, His body.

Those who heard him however, expressed disbelief that such as magnificent structure that had taken so long to build could so easily be destroyed. We have heard other similar reactions to prophesy about destruction of great cities. History has shown us that, yes the great Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed after all.

The reality is that anything man creates out of the elements of this temporal world is impermanent and can be destroyed. As much as we, with scientific knowledge and technical skill, try to create buildings to be able to withstand earthquakes, floods, fire and wind, some still are destroyed.

The building of physical buildings and creating material objects is the work of humans. At times God has commanded His people to build Temples and other structures. Whether He could create them Himself is not the point – after all He created the mountains which served as temples. The purpose and function of a building is more important than design or beauty. Part of that purpose being the obedience and sacrifice and offerings from us mortals to create something in His name.

While living His mortal life, Jesus the carpenter built things with His hands just like we do. Jesus didn’t use His power to create material things. Instead, His mortal work dealt with individuals. He healed bodies and ministered to souls. People were the subjects of His great power, glory and love. That should be a testimony to us that we, His children, are His priority.

Easter Morning

That morning when Jesus rose from the tomb, gives perspective to our mortal experience – to creation and destruction, to life and death.

Through His resurrection bodies and spirits can be reunited and resurrected to a perfect immortal form. Through Him broken hearts are rebuilt and damaged souls healed. Through Him we can be restored to a sinless, pure, innocent state, able to live in His presence.

Ultimately, as significant as magnificent human creations may be to us, we are more important than buildings or objects to Him – the Creator of all things.

Charity – Five Lessons about Charity

Five lessons about Charity that I have learned through life and study: what it is, what it is not, how to obtain it, and why it is so critical.

Charity 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Many years ago I made a serious study of charity. I gave some talks and presentations on the subject and wrote about it. I even entertained thoughts that there might be a book to be written on the subject. At that time, I thought I had some insight into charity, but as time and life continued I realized my shortcomings in living the principle. Through some experiences I have had more recently, I think I am beginning to have a better understanding of charity. Though I am sure I have much more to learn, I will share a few lessons.

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The First Great Commandment – Loving God

We hear much today about the Second Great Commandment – “love your neighbor as yourself” – but in the insistence that this is of supreme importance and with some using this as a weapon against Christians to point out supposed hypocrisy, the First Great Commandment – loving God – seems to get little or no attention.

The Two Great Commandments

When posed with the question: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:36 -39)

Jesus being questioned

Loving our neighbors is a natural outgrowth of keeping the first commandment. Keeping the second without the first can lead to questions about whether the second is actually being kept at all.

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The Dual Nature of Man and the Battle for the Soul

I am concerned about the battles raging in our society – the battles which divide us into opposing groups, and also the internal battles for individual souls. These are continuations of a war which began long ago. We have no recollection of it, but scriptural accounts can stir up feelings and give us a sense of the intensity and eternal significance of the struggle. (See Revelation 12:7-9, Moses 4:1-4, Abraham 3:27-28)

What makes this war is so challenging on an individual level – and that is the level that it really counts – are the realities of our current mortal existence.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I believe that we are essentially spiritual beings. We are actually the spiritual offspring of God, and as such have at our spiritual core a divine nature and potential. In order for us to be able to progress toward that potential, we have been given the opportunity of this mortal existence. We have been housed in physical bodies and placed in a temporal world. I do not believe that everything about these physical bodies and this world are inherently bad or evil. These bodies are marvelous creations and allow us to do wonderful things. Our world is filled with so much that is beautiful and good. However, being a spiritual being inside a physical body creates the basis of our test, and the core of the battle – will the spiritual overcome the physical and progress, or will the spiritual yield to the physical?

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Facing and Replacing Fear

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

At one point during the past election season as I was reading opposing views of a particularly contentious issue, I made an effort to find some common ground. What I hit on was fear. Both sides were afraid that what might happen would affect them in a negative way. Each side saw that if the other prevailed, that they, or those they cared about, would be seriously hurt. They each focused on their own fears without seeing that the other side was just as fearful, but of a different outcome that could have just as detrimental an affect on them. The arguments of each side were more to convince the other that the fears of their particular group were somehow more legitimate or serious, especially if that group could be seen as victims.

My hope in seeking a common ground was to find some principle upon which both sides could unite – something they could feel they had in common. If both sides could see that they really feared the same basic things – and desired the same things – you would think that they might feel some common concern. We might hope that fear could unite opposing sides out of some sense of compassion, but the reality is much scarier.

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Capacity

Capacity is a word that keeps jumping out at me recently. Shopping for appliances, I heard much about “capacity.” Often capacity is viewed in terms of quantity – the amount of space which can be filled or contain something. The implication is that more or larger is better. When talking about human capacities, whether that be mental, physical, emotional or spiritual, we are usually thinking about abilities or potential.

Human Capacities

Physical capacity usually involves strength, endurance, and stamina. Some people are able to physically do more or for longer because of greater physical capacity.

Mental capacity is what is referred to as the power of receiving and holding knowledge – the ability to comprehend, reason, to learn and understand.

Emotional capacity is something we don’t think much about, but I think it is real. I recently heard someone comment about another’s “capacity for chaos”. Some people seem to be able to handle stress, adapt to changes or deal with upsetting situations better than others. Some have greater capacity for self-reliance. We look to first responders and leaders for such capacity in dealing with emergencies.

Spiritual Capacity is about the potential of our souls to develop and expand and progress. Our goal may be described as “enlightenment” or becoming more Christlike – more loving, understanding and giving.

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