Exodus 23:25

New International Version
Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you,

New Living Translation
“You must serve only the LORD your God. If you do, I will bless you with food and water, and I will protect you from illness.

English Standard Version
You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you.

Berean Standard Bible
So you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take away sickness from among you.

King James Bible
And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.

Binary

By Heather Williams. H.W., M. (with permission)

January 15, 2024 (TheProsperos.org)

Which are you? Binary ego-self or TRUE SELF?

BINARY = something made of two things or parts; a number system based only on the numerals 0 and 1; a division into two groups or classes that are considered diametrically opposite

QUESTION: Which are you? Binary ego-self OR True Self?

STORY: In 2015 I found the book, Self Observation – The Awakening of Conscience, by Red Hawk. He clearly describes the pathway toward our True Identity as Consciousness. It is a rough road but it is absolutely necessary! We all identify ourselves as material objects or binary things living in a world that is separate from us: you/me, smart/dumb, rich/poor, male/female, young/old, black/white, good/bad and lots more. Yes we have a material body but we are a SOUL. Our True Identity is Consciousness – our Soul. It is the Oneness that connects us with all of life. My little drawing here kinda expresses the ONENESS that is always back and behind our separate ego sense of self! And one day, I called Red Hawk, the author, and learned about what is called a “Work Chamber” where a group of people meet to read the book and discuss their personal WORK of releasing themselves from their ego identity and awakening to their True Identity. Group work is helpful in this kind of WORK. My Work Chamber is reading Red Hawk’s new book: Self Remembering – The Path to Non-judgmental Love. Learn more: https://www.drawingtogether.com/workchamber

QUOTES

“We must all learn to walk back and forth between matter-space and mind-space.” ~ Thane

“Know Thyself is one of the foundational spiritual teachings of humanity. It was above the entrance to the Oracle at Delphi. Socrates taught it to his students. Buddha calls it watching. Krishna calls it meditation. Jesus calls it witnessing. Mr. Gurdjieff calls it self observation. The essential tool to Know Thyself is simple self observation.” ~ Red Hawk

“You are free to be a servant to your Higher Self or a slave to your lower self.” ~ Paul Brunton

EXERCISE

STOP.

Relax.

Sit quietly. Assume an erect posture. Sense the breath.

Sit calmly and say to yourself: I am ready to observe without judgment my binary, reactive, mechanical nature – and I am ready to BE aware of my Higher Self as Consciousness.

Get your pen and paper and write words or draw lines expressing the ENERGY of ego-self and the ENERGY of ever present Higher Self.

Move forward into your day remembering your Higher Self.

Buddha on meditation

Gain and Loss
Buddha was asked,“

What have you gained from meditation?”

He replied, “Nothing.”“

However, let me tell you what I have lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.”

Author Unknown
  
 AN OPPORTUNITY FOR DAILY REFLECTION BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE SCHOOL OF PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY

How Fascism Works

The 10 elements of a dangerous ideology

FRAMELAB FEB 19, 2024 FrameLab (framelab@substack.com)

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

Is fascism on the rise in the United States? Some FrameLab readers have argued that we should be using the word “fascist” instead of “authoritarian,” “conservative” or “right-wing.”

They make a very good point. But what, exactly, is fascism? In “How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them,” Yale University Professor Jason Stanley lists the ten main elements of fascism. We have summarized them below.

Key questions: Which of these elements do we see invading our politics today? Are all of the elements present, or only some? Is it time to use the “F” word to describe what has happened to the Republican Party? We look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments.

The 10 Elements of Fascism, from “How Fascism Works”:

1. The Mythic Past

Fascist politics invokes a glorified, mythological past that has supposedly been destroyed or undermined by liberal, foreign, or otherwise corrupting influences.

2. Propaganda

The use of propaganda to manipulate or control the public narrative is a hallmark of fascist politics. This often involves the use of misleading or blatantly false information to shape public perception.

3. Anti-intellectualism

Fascist movements often distrust intellectuals or the academic establishment, viewing them as part of the corrupt or degenerate elite, and as a threat to the “common sense” of the people.

4. Unreality

The creation of a disorienting, alternate reality through the repeated assertion of falsehoods, conspiracy theories, and the blurring of fact and opinion.

5. Hierarchy

The belief in a natural social hierarchy, as well as the supremacy of certain groups over others based on race, ethnicity, or nationality.

6. Victimhood

Fascists often position their in-group as the victims of an injustice perpetrated by out-groups, thereby justifying any action taken against these supposed enemies.

7. Law and Order

A strong emphasis on law and order, often as a pretext for suppressing political dissent and marginalizing minority groups.

8. Sexual Anxiety

The exploitation of sexual anxiety as a way to rally support for fascist causes, often through the control and subjugation of women’s bodies and the demonization of others’ sexual practices.

9. Sodom and Gomorrah

The portrayal of cosmopolitan or urban areas — cities — as places of moral decay, in contrast to the purity of the rural or traditional heartland.

10. “Arbeit Macht Frei”

The glorification of work and the stigmatization of those perceived as not contributing to the labor force, often used to target minority groups or the unemployed.

God Admits Sending Great Flood Was Just Misguided Attempt To Impress Jodie Foster

Published Yesterday (TheOnion.com)

Image for article titled God Admits Sending Great Flood Was Just Misguided Attempt To Impress Jodie Foster

THE HEAVENS—Claiming that love had made Him do crazy things, the Lord God Almighty admitted Monday that sending the Great Flood to destroy the evil He beheld upon the earth was just a misguided attempt to impress Jodie Foster. “Truth be told, I convinced Myself that if I sent mighty torrents of water to cleanse the world of corruption and start creation anew, Jodie would finally take notice and love Me, but I realize now how foolish that was,” said the Supreme Being of Paradise, explaining how He developed an unhealthy obsession with the Silence Of The Lambs actress before sending the global deluge to purge the decadent and the wicked. “She wasn’t responding to any of My divine messages or signs from above, so drowning all life on earth was the only way I could think of to get her attention. I know I’m not legally allowed to contact her, but Jodie, if you’re reading this, I never meant any harm by having the rain fall for 40 days and 40 nights.” At press time, God contended that, despite recognizing the error of His ways, He still considered the Flood to be “the greatest love offering in the history of the world.”

Book: “Future Memory”

Future Memory

P.M.H. Atwater

There are different paths to future memory. Author P.M.H. Atwater says the future memory allows people to “live” life in advance and remember the experience in detail when something triggers that memory. Atwater says the unifying, and permanent, effect of that experience is a brain a “brain shift” which she believes “may be at the very core of existence itself.” In Future Memory, Atwater shows that structural and chemical changes are occurring in our brains, changes indicative of higher evolutionary development. The author, one of the foremost investigators of the near-death experience (NDE), experienced the future memory process firsthand following her own three NDEs. She shows how these “rehearsals” for future events differ from other modes of futuristic awareness such as clairvoyance, precognition, and deja vu. Future Memory :

Future Memory is an important step in understanding the relationship between human perception and reality.

(Goodreads.com)

Why Jesus Is Too Awkward For Many Christians

We would kill him all over again today

Nils von Kalm

Nils von Kalm

Published in Backyard Church

Dec 31, 2023 (medium.com)

Image by Caravaggio at picryl

Here’s a modern take on what is probably Jesus’ most famous parable:

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

A social justice activist happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side on his way to a march in support of Palestinian freedom.

So too, a conservative evangelical, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side on his way to a prayer meeting to pray for the peace of Israel.

But a Palestinian Muslim, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man in his own car, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out a pile of Israeli shekels and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

How does the above version of this parable make you feel? The way it makes you feel probably reveals your understanding of Jesus.

The more I consider the responses to not only what’s happening in the Middle East, but to what it means to be Christian, the more I’m convinced that Jesus is just too awkward and uncomfortable for many Christians to deal with.

We would kill him all over again if he came back today.

Recently, I was in a conversation with a Christian leader and I happened to mention how, for Jesus, everything boils down to the command to love our neighbor. His response to me was that that sounded more like ‘meta-Marxism’.

I was flabbergasted.

How is it that Christian leaders can be so lacking in understanding of who Jesus is and what he was about? I had to remind my friend that the one who said that the whole Law and Prophets is summed up in the command to do unto others wasn’t Karl Marx; it was Jesus of Nazareth.

Image by freepik at Freepik

Learning from our non-Christian friends

I regularly find that it’s those who don’t claim to follow Christ who have a better understanding of who Jesus is than those who warm the pews on a Sunday.

Why are secular people often more caring than Christians? I wonder if it’s because they don’t have the same baggage as many Christians do, not so many rules or set ways of doing things.

It shows the distance that many Christians are from the Gospel of Jesus.

This is where the story of the Good Samaritan is an affront to many Christians. We like to see it as a nice story of helping others when they’re in need. Buts it’s confronting when it’s seen as Jesus meant it, making the hated enemy the hero of the story. Would we give credit to the Good Palestinian Muslim? He’s just like the Good Samaritan. Jews absolutely hated Samaritans, and vice versa. To Jews, Samaritans believed all the wrong things and were just bad people. It’s the same for the attitude of many Christians towards Muslims. Many of us think Muslims believe all the wrong things and are destined for hell. But Jesus said to his Jewish hearers, “go and be like the Samaritan”. To say it was offensive is a massive understatement.

Jesus would say to us today, “go and be like the Good Palestinian Muslim”. Or the Good Secular Atheist. Or the Good Vladimir Putin. Or the Good Trans Woman.

We have much to learn from our non-Christian brothers and sisters. Christians don’t have a monopoly on truth. Truth can be expressed by anyone. All truth is God’s truth, whether it’s expressed by a Christian, a Muslim, an atheist or an agnostic. True Christlike humility means listening and being open to being changed. It isn’t being afraid of truth, whoever proclaims it.

The problem with many Christians is that our motives for doing good are all skewed. We think it’s about getting a reward in heaven when we die when it’s not about that at all. Is the atheist who does good things with no thought of an afterlife reward more moral than the person in church on a Sunday who does good things because of promise of reward when they die?

This is the problem with having our ultimate hope and destiny in an after-death reward. Often for the faithful church-goer, it’s not about love, but about what I will get. Another crown in heaven. Is the atheist’s motive more pure and therefore more Christlike?

Image by freepik at Freepik

Can you be good without God?

This also raises the old question of whether you can be good without God. I think it’s a moot point. I think everyone is made in the image of God, whether they’re a Christian, Muslim, atheist or whatever. We all have the fingerprint of the God of love, justice, compassion and mercy on us. That’s how God has made all of us. So, yes, you can be good without belief in God and committing your life to God. It’s just that I’m convinced that no one is without God. As St Paul said in Acts 17, God is not far from any one of us.

We often think it’s all about right belief, but for Jesus it’s about right action. We think that if you say the sinner’s prayer and ask Jesus into your heart as your Savior and Lord, you’re going straight to heaven when you die. But Jesus said almost 100 times in the gospels, “follow me” and he taught us to pray for heaven to come to earth.

I’m currently listening to the updated version of Philip Yancey’s classic book, What’s So Amazing About Grace? He laments the fact that there is so much of what he calls ungrace in the church. The Australian pastor, Rowland Croucher, used to tell a story of when he was preaching to a church congregation and said that the Pharisees were all Bible-believing, tithing, good people who regularly went to synagogue. As he said this, people in the congregation started squirming in their seats. Rowland asked one of them what was wrong. The person told him, “that’s us!”.

The Pharisees were well respected people in Jewish society. But Jesus called them sons of hell. What would he say to today’s church?

Having said all this, I believe that intentionally following Jesus is the best way to be good. But so many people are intentionally committed to living a way of love without consciously doing it out of a desire to emulate Jesus.

I remember the Australian Christian leader, Dave Andrews, telling a story once of a Hindu woman in India who was regularly beaten up by her husband. This poor woman would pray every night to a god of love to comfort her. When she told Dave that, he said, “that’s the God of Jesus”. The woman replied, “is that his name?”. She was praying to Jesus and surrendering to him but she just wasn’t consciously aware of it. We need to be open to seeing Christlikeness in those who don’t claim to follow Christ.

The U2 singer, Bono, once said that religion is what you have left when the Spirit has left the building. Jesus didn’t come to give us a new religion. He came to bring the reign of God, of love, justice, and peace, from heaven to earth. He calls us to love our neighbor, including our enemy.

For Jesus, for God, it’s all about love. Loving God is loving our neighbor. The two can’t be separated. The entire Law and the Prophets is about doing for others what we would want them to do for us. The Golden Rule. And if you prefer to get your theology from Paul instead of Jesus, then read Galatians 5:14.

Is Jesus too awkward for you? If he is, that might not be a bad thing. I heard it said once that everywhere Jesus went, he caused a crisis. He caused a crisis in the lives of the disciples, in those he called to follow him, and in the religious leaders. May he cause a crisis in our lives, and may we respond in full surrender to him.

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Nils von Kalm

Written by Nils von Kalm

·Writer for Backyard Church

I am a writer from Melbourne, Australia with a passion for showing how I believe Christian faith is relevant to life. Connect at https://linktr.ee/nilsvonkalm

Nick Cave on the Two Pillars of a Meaningful Life

By Maria Popova (themarginalian.org)

We are each born with a wilderness of possibility within us. Who we become depends on how we tend to our inner garden — what qualities of character and spirit we cultivate to come abloom, what follies we weed out, how much courage we grow to turn away from the root-rot of cynicism and toward the sunshine of life in all its forms: wonder, kindness, openhearted vulnerability.

Answering a young person’s plea for guidance in finding direction and meaning amid a “bizarre and temporary world” that seems so often at odds with the highest human values, the sage and sensitive Nick Cave offers his lens on the two most important qualities of spirit to cultivate in order to have a meaningful life.

Nick Cave

A generation after James Baldwin observed in his superb essay on Shakespeare how “it is said that his time was easier than ours, but… no time can be easy if one is living through it,” Nick prefaces his advice with a calibration:

The world… is indeed a strange and deeply mysterious place, forever changing and remaking itself anew. But this is not a novel condition, our world hasn’t only recently become bizarre and temporary, it has been so ever since its inception, and it will continue to be such until its end — mystifying and forever in a state of flux.

He then offers his two pillars of a fulfilling life — orientations of the soul that “have a softening effect on our sometimes inflexible and isolating value systems”:

The first is humility. Humility amounts to an understanding that the world is not divided into good and bad people, but rather it is made up of all manner of individuals, each broken in their own way, each caught up in the common human struggle and each having the capacity to do both terrible and beautiful things. If we truly comprehend and acknowledge that we are all imperfect creatures, we find that we become more tolerant and accepting of others’ shortcomings and the world appears less dissonant, less isolating, less threatening.

The other quality is curiosity. If we look with curiosity at people who do not share our values, they become interesting rather than threatening. As I’ve grown older I’ve learnt that the world and the people in it are surprisingly interesting, and that the more you look and listen, the more interesting they become. Cultivating a questioning mind, of which conversation is the chief instrument, enriches our relationship with the world. Having a conversation with someone I may disagree with is, I have come to find, a great, life embracing pleasure.

Couple with Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell on what makes a fulfilling life and revisit Nick Cave’s humble wisdom on the importance of trusting yourselfthe art of growing older, and the antidote to our existential helplessness, then savor his lush On Being conversation with Krista Tippett about loss, yearning, transcendence, and “the audacity of the world to continue to be beautiful and continue to be good in times of deep suffering.”

‘It‘s a Good Day’

A Reason To Smile

DAN RATHER AND TEAM STEADY FEB 18, 2024

Credit: Getty Images

If you’ve never heard of Peggy Lee, the best way I can describe her is that she was the Taylor Swift of my time. In that, like Swift, she was a superstar singer-songwriter of popular music. The Grammy winner wrote more than 270 songs, including many chart-toppers, like 1946’s “It’s a Good Day.”

Video: https://youtu.be/n0RsNH7le4Q?si=bvRbgpmforIU4lVN

This video version of the song features clips of her first husband and co-writer, Dave Barbour, and their daughter, Nicki. 

Peggy Lee was born Norma Deloris Egstrom in North Dakota in 1920. At 17, she moved to Hollywood, changed her name, and became a star. She sang and acted professionally for the next seven decades. Lee sang with some of the biggest male stars of the era: Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. Anyone who was anyone recorded her songs: Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland, to name but a few.

Maybe one of your parents, or a grandparent, sang “It’s a Good Day” to you when you were a child. It’s a song you’ll find yourself humming long after you’ve heard it. Living through times such as these, I find songs like this can quickly turn a gray day into a sunny one. I hope you enjoy one of my all-time favorites and a reason to smile, “It’s a Good Day.”

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