Wed, December 11, 2019
The Untold Story of Jesus
By Mo Siegel and Jim English
Jesus comes to life in this fascinating modern biography excerpted from The Urantia Book. Many of these historical stories are familiar to readers of the New Testament but dozens are new, including the missing years not found in the Bible. Here you discover Jesus presented as never before, both as divine Son and human hero whose matchless life inspires, comforts, and transforms you.
It is beautifully written in modern, page-turning prose and complemented with 106 paintings from 35 renowned artists, including 42 originally commissioned works you will see for the first time. The paintings run the gamut of fine art celebrating the life of Christ, both classic and modern. These artists poured their souls into these portraits of higher spiritual reality. Our deep appreciation and humble gratitude go out to each one of them.
These paintings illustrate Jesus’ life journey from his humble birth and childhood to adolescence and manhood; from private to public ministry and on to his death, resurrection, and ascension. The artwork celebrates his diverse life as son, father-brother, carpenter, boat designer and builder, tutor, translator, caravan conductor, teacher, healer, minister, and friend. No one knows what Jesus looked like, but these artists painted their soulful interpretations to spark our imagination of these scenes from the Master’s life. Our intent is to give you a visual communion with Jesus that complements the enthralling narrative.
This impeccably designed book provides relevant and empowering spiritual insights, helping you navigate the challenging yet promising conditions of the 21st century. We live in an exciting era of unprecedented improvements in our material lives brought about by scientific, industrial, and social achievements. Yet despite all this progress, many souls feel lonely and displaced. We need God and have an innate thirst for spiritual answers because of that “still, small voice” that lives within us. Finding God by living the personal religion of Jesus satisfies that thirst.
The search for the genuine Jesus continues to intrigue humanity. Since the Bible only records an estimated 50 days of his life, it follows that there is more to his story. You will find it here in this detailed history of the Master’s entire life, including the public ministry recorded in the Gospels. It provides a coherent and seamless biography of this magnificent personality who continues to shape spiritual progress in our world.
The story of Jesus is one of the most enthralling chapters in human history. The closing passage of the Apostle John’s gospel speaks to a life larger than even the world itself. How fitting that the last words of his gospel should be the first words of this book: “But there are also many things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” In John’s day the Word was made flesh. In these days the Word is made book.
The Untold Story of Jesus reveals the living Christ to members of the church that bears his name, as well as to worshipers of all world religions. It is sure to become a favorite volume for all who seek God.
A Final Thought
We pray that these stories, teachings, and paintings provide you with a new sense of faith, comfort, and purpose. And to you who may not believe in Jesus, we ask you to look again. Read the stories, enjoy the art, and get to know the man through new eyes.
What the world needs now is unconditional love, unfailing compassion, and matchless goodwill. Even after two thousand years, Jesus’ teachings have not been practiced on a global scale. When that day comes, his inspired life will transform, transfigure, and rule this world. His message of personal faith in a loving heavenly Father coupled with unselfish service to one another is a clear and direct pathway to peace in this life and passage to the next. May you be blessed by the supreme adventure that follows!
“Of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it.”
About the Authors
The book was produced by Mo Siegel and Jim English and edited by a team of Urantia Book scholars headed by MaryJo Garascia. The book was designed by Carol Norton with Barbara Brownell Grogan as contributing editor.
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Tue, June 11, 2019
Hearing from God
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
This article struck a chord with me, and maybe it will with you, too. It's called: I'm a Christian but I don't talk like one. Neither should you by Craig Gross. The title's a little confusing, but what this author is saying is that instead of always citing scripture or other sacred writings, we should learn to discern when we are hearing from Jesus - either within our own inner life, or from other people. I will blog about this below, but here's a snip or two from the article:
"When you pray and ask God to reveal something to you or ask God to show you something and then you get a feeling in your gut or what I would call "spirit" that gives you clear direction or something specific, I believe that is God speaking to you.
"Jesus works and speaks through people, starting from the very beginning of time. What makes you think it's not how He still works?"
Click to read more...
Establishing a relationship
I wish I had a nickel for the number of times I have asked God to help me out with a problem or an issue in my life, and the next day or the next hour or the next week, I'll be either reading something or I'll overhear a snippet of a conversation and...there's the answer I was seeking! Has that ever happened to you? I wish I had started keeping a journal of those times from the beginning of my life in the Kingdom...I am sure it would be quite a tome by now! And if I had a nickel for every time, I'd be rich, too!
There was a time when I would not even pay attention to this kind of thing. Of course, there was a time when I did not care to ask God's advice, period. I was too busy arranging my outer life in order to allay my own fears and anxieties. But that's another story...
It was not until I found The Urantia Book and learned of the amazing ministry of God to us mortals through the indwelling Thought Adjuster, that I naturally began to think of the implications of God's presence in my mind. I read about the practice of Jesus when he would have a weighty problem; he would go off by himself and talk it over with God. When we talk it over with someone, that implies a conversation. So, I reasoned that Jesus was not only talking TO God, but that he was hearing FROM him, too. And since Jesus is the pattern personality of a God-conscious mortal living the will of God, I decided that I might strive for that, too.
Meditation was my first stop. There have been times in my life that I religiously set aside 20-30 minutes a day for quiet meditation. It was - and is, still - a good thing to do for anyone. The Urantia Book has a good deal to say about meditation and you can read a condensation of those teachings HERE. I always found that my day went better after meditation. But I never really "heard" anything in particular.
Getting a response
It was only after asking directly once in meditation: "Are You there?" that my experiences began to change with regard to really conversing with God. And when you think about it, that really makes sense. When we want to converse with someone, we don't just sit in their presence and wait for them to talk. Maybe sometimes we do, but if we have something we want to talk over with them, it is natural to speak to them directly. Knowing what I knew about the presence of God in my mind, I decided that I should really start just talking to him; and not just in a quiet place, but any time and every time I wanted his companionship and advice.
In answer to my question, I had a strange sensation of a voice somewhere between my ears. It said "Yes" as clear as a bell. I didn't really hear with my physical ears, but that response was nonetheless "heard" somewhere in the middle of my head. After that, it continued to speak, saying things like "Always here" - "You are never alone" - You are my beloved..."
Well, that was pretty amazing to me. I knew that I did not create that voice - at least I did not think that I had. And as I continued in that space of conversation, I just kept hearing comforting, loving, calming words...
Carrying on the conversation
I was further encouraged to continue trying to speak with God. There's a wonderful section in The Urantia Book called "Prayer and the Alter Ego," which can be found HERE. In this section we are reminded of the practice of children to have imaginary playmates:
91:3.1 Children, when first learning to make use of language, are prone to think out loud, to express their thoughts in words, even if no one is present to hear them. With the dawn of creative imagination they evince a tendency to converse with imaginary companions. In this way a budding ego seeks to hold communion with a fictitious alter ego. By this technique the child early learns to convert his monologue conversations into pseudo dialogues in which this alter ego makes replies to his verbal thinking and wish expression. Very much of an adult's thinking is mentally carried on in conversational form.
And by the end of that section, we read this amazing promise:
91:3.7 Enlightened prayer must recognize not only an external and personal God but also an internal and impersonal Divinity, the indwelling Adjuster. It is altogether fitting that man, when he prays, should strive to grasp the concept of the Universal Father on Paradise; but the more effective technique for most practical purposes will be to revert to the concept of a near-by alter ego, just as the primitive mind was wont to do, and then to recognize that the idea of this alter ego has evolved from a mere fiction to the truth of God's indwelling mortal man in the factual presence of the Adjuster so that man can talk face to face, as it were, with a real and genuine and divine alter ego that indwells him and is the very presence and essence of the living God, the Universal Father.
After digesting that, I went from long periods of quiet meditation to bursts of conversation with God - no matter whether I was alone, in a crowd, driving the car, in line at the grocery store, or on a walk in the woods. And this has become my practice. It serves me well and keeps me close to God. I like it also because it helps me to make my entire life a life of prayer, of a sort. Even though I still like the long, quiet periods of meditation, I feel I have the best success when I am wide awake and striving to bring my relationship with God into each moment.
But, as mentioned above, sometimes I can think of a problem I am having or an issue that requires clarification and I will hear an answer in unlikely places - an answer that comes not inside my mind, but from a another person who happens to be passing by, or a written word, or a video I see, or a meme on Facebook.
The point is that God really does, I believe, want to talk with us as much as we want to talk to him. And when we make that desire plain to him, he helps us and makes it happen. It is very comforting and very reassuring to know that he really is always there for us. He really is there for YOU.
Try it yourself, and see what happens. But don't be surprised when your alter ego turns out to be your best friend...AND keep your ears open and your heart, too. Because you can hear answers to prayer come from some very unlikely places! Always pay attention, because God is always ready to chat!!!
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Wed, June 05, 2019
Come to Jesus through love, not fear
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
I saw this article today and decided to make a blog about it: 4 Ways That Christians Respond to the Heavy Truth That Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven by Josh Daffern. Heavy truth? This Christian injunction can cause a lot of heavy confusion for some people. But, is it true? Christians often point to this scripture and use it as a cudgel to scare people into coming to Jesus. In my blog below, I'd like to clear up the confusion that this causes to anyone, using enlightened Urantia Book teachings. But first, here's a snip from the article:
"Jesus is the only way to God, Jesus is God, if you believe in Jesus you shall not perish. But if you don't place your trust in Jesus, then you will perish. Jesus talks about this eternal perishing as hell, hades or eternal fire."
Click to read the article
Coming to Jesus
I have never really had a problem coming to Jesus; from an early age, I was thoroughly immersed in Christian belief through the Catholic Church. But, after seeing the fear and distaste that this brings up in some people - a fear and distaste born of being told by someone that you can't have salvation without believing in Jesus - I started questioning whether this is something that Jesus would really want us to teach to others.
When I found The Urantia Book nearly thirty years ago now, one of the things that drew me to it was the fact that it claimed to be a new revelation from God. I liked that idea - and still do. I always thought it was sad if God had stopped talking to us after Jesus incarnated here - that we were pretty much on our own, with only an ancient document of supposed truth which also contains a lot of contradiction and inconsistency sprinkled in it. So, I was intrigued by the idea of a new revelation, and believed it was entirely possible.
One of the things I discovered about revelation of the sort that is The Urantia Book, namely EPOCHAL revelation, is that this kind of periodic revelation from celestial government is meant to help us know truth. One way it does this is to correct errors from previous attempts of mortals to figure it out on our own. Christianity is one of those attempts. While it contains much good, it is an evolutionary, man-made religion, and The New Testament Bible is its guiding document. It's a good attempt, but it is pretty much full of error. The Urantia Book teaches:
Revelation is a technique whereby ages upon ages of time are saved in the necessary work of sorting and sifting the errors of evolution from the truths of spirit acquirement.
Evolutionary religion provides only the assurance of faith and the confirmation of conscience; revelatory religion provides the assurance of faith plus the truth of a living experience in the realities of revelation.
See: Religion Expanded by Revelation for more of this good news.
All this is by way of introduction to my blog today, and to say that in The Urantia Book, most especially Part IV, we find the true story of Jesus - his identity, the true nature of his mission to our world, and the truth about salvation. And we discover that, while the statement in John 14:6 is technically true, it is not the truth as it is commonly understood by Christians. AND the statement of Jesus about hell is refuted by his true teaching as restated in The Urantia Book. We'll look at that below.
What IS the truth?
It is painful to see Jesus being used to scare people into loving him, i.e., "if you don't come to Jesus, you're going to go to hell. Jesus said so."
The Urantia Book teaches us that "God is not willing that any should perish." I can't help but believe that Jesus feels the same way. I certainly find it hard to think that he would allow a reluctance to accept him, or ignorance of him to be a stumbling block to a mortal being's salvation.
In Jesus Farewell Discourse to the apostles, he said (among other things)
180:3.7 "Thomas, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man goes to the Father except through me. All who find the Father, first find me."
I see this as Jesus stating a fact - he does not hold it up as a requisite for all mortals to ensure salvation. The Father can be found right here in this earth life, through the ministry of the Thought Adjuster, even if someone may not know Jesus yet. But to actually/literally find the Father on Paradise, we DO have to go through Jesus.
Another time, Jesus said this:
153:2.11 "The Father and I are one; the Son does only that which the Father teaches him, while all those who are given to the Son by the Father, the Son will receive to himself. You have read where it is written in the Prophets, `You shall all be taught by God,' and that `Those whom the Father teaches will hear also his Son.' Every one who yields to the teaching of the Father's indwelling spirit will eventually come to me. Not that any man has seen the Father, but the Father's spirit does live within man. And the Son who came down from heaven, he has surely seen the Father. And those who truly believe this Son already have eternal life."
In our eternal life we will literally go through Jesus to get to God. It cannot be any other way. But we go through him as a very natural process on our way to the Father: not as a requirement for salvation; by the time we get far enough along to meet Jesus face-to-face, our salvation will have been experienced long before. Salvation is explained very clearly by Jesus here, when asked : "What must I do do be saved?:
150:5.3"Salvation is the gift of the Father and is revealed by his Sons. Acceptance by faith on your part makes you a partaker of the divine nature, a son or a daughter of God. By faith you are justified; by faith are you saved; and by this same faith are you eternally advanced in the way of progressive and divine perfection. By faith was Abraham justified and made aware of salvation by the teachings of Melchizedek. All down through the ages has this same faith saved the sons of men, but now has a Son come forth from the Father to make salvation more real and acceptable."
As the Master said above, "And those who truly believe this Son already have eternal life."
There are many instances in Jesus' life wherein he reiterates these truths about salvation.
How do we meet Jesus?
In the ascension experience, there are many, many stops that the ascender will make before being ready to actually stand in the presence of God. Meeting God is not something that happens automatically, but is, instead, the culmination of a long series of transformations and spiritual advancements. And one of the steps that will take place is the actual meeting of the ascender with Jesus.
Jesus is the Creator Son - the Creator of this very universe in which we live. As such, we will all literally meet him before we have the opportunity to meet the Universal Father of all creation. That meeting is described here:
113:7.4 Before leaving the mansion worlds, all mortals will have permanent seraphic associates or guardians. And as you ascend the morontia spheres, eventually it is the seraphic guardians who witness and certify the decrees of your eternal union with the Thought Adjusters. Together they have established your personality identities as children of the flesh from the worlds of time. Then, with your attainment of the mature morontia estate, they accompany you through Jerusem and the associated worlds of system progress and culture. After that they go with you to Edentia and its seventy spheres of advanced socialization, and subsequently will they pilot you to the Melchizedeks and follow you through the superb career of the universe headquarters worlds. And when you have learned the wisdom and culture of the Melchizedeks, they will take you on to Salvington, where you will stand face to face with the Sovereign of all Nebadon [aka Jesus of Nazareth].
And the reason for this is simple: Christ Michael of Nebadon is the Sovereign of this universe; he is the representative of the Universal Father, and so, just as in an earthly kingdom, a subject may not be brought directly into the king's presence, but will first be received by those who are responsible for their particular part of the kingdom - we go up the chain of command, as it were.
Our particular part of the Father's creation is Nebadon, the universe that Michael (Jesus) created. And so, we will literally meet Jesus before we meet the Father, in his "greater universe"; this is the meaning of Jesus' statement: "No man goes to the Father except through me."
How we are saved, and why we don't have to worry about Hell
As for the matter of salvation, The Urantia Book - and Jesus also - teaches that it is simple faith that secures salvation. Here's another of his statements about salvation:
150:5.5"You cannot buy salvation; you cannot earn righteousness. Salvation is the gift of God, and righteousness is the natural fruit of the spirit-born life of sonship in the kingdom. You are not to be saved because you live a righteous life; rather is it that you live a righteous life because you have already been saved, have recognized sonship as the gift of God and service in the kingdom as the supreme delight of life on earth."
Moreover, Jesus never taught the concept of hell or eternal damnation. Hell is a purely human invention with no basis in reality. It is entirely inconsistent with the nature of God, and certainly with the portrayal of God through Jesus' life here. And what good news THAT is! The scripture that ascribes this teaching to Jesus is one that was added long after his ascension, and is one of those errors corrected through the revelation of his real life and the true teachings about God. See our topical study of hell HERE
188:4.13 Human salvation is real; it is based on two realities which may be grasped by the creature's faith and thereby become incorporated into individual human experience: the fact of the fatherhood of God and its correlated truth, the brotherhood of man.
One of Jesus' primary reasons for incarnating here was to lead people to God - not to himself. His incarnation here has made it far easier to find the Father. He revealed the loving character of God the Father to us earthly children. His was a life dedicated to doing the will of God, and that is what he taught his followers. He revealed the presence of God in each mortal (see the Thought Adjuster, above) and the importance of becoming conscious of God's presence. He established - not a material church - but the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts of mankind, and asked all of us to be born-again so that we could enter and live there here and now.
His gospel of this kingdom - faith in the Fatherhood of God and the resultant reality of the brotherhood of mankind - is the simple message of his bestowal, and his religion of personal spiritual experience - the religion OF Jesus - is accessible to all, and is a religion of revelation that can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, whether "churched" or not. It is the religion of true spiritual liberty!
Discover Jesus in The Urantia Book
Discovering Jesus through The Urantia Book is an amazing experience, and this Jesus that we discover is a human and divine being. He is not able to be captured or appropriated by any earthly religion. He transcends any and all such attempts. And it is for this reason that he can be accessible to all - not only the religious believers, but even those who may not be religious at all. He is a savior for everyone, and his original teachings are the birthright of every man, woman, and child in the universe.
Knowing more about Jesus...knowing his true life story and the way in which he lived his life can help any spiritual seeker to live a more successful life. Jesus lived a real life, accompanied by all the same trials and challenges that any mortal may face. Discovering how he treated people, the advice he offered, the techniques he used to help others and raise them up, the way he parented his brothers and sisters, his attention to duty, and his sincere friendliness can inspire anyone.
How pleasant and easy it is to love Jesus. How liberating to know he came here to help us and to fellowship us - not to scare us. Rest assured that you will meet Jesus in the future...but in the meantime, I hope you can, like me, learn to accept him through love, not fear. Invite others to know and love him as you do - not as someone who wants to take them hostage...
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Tue, May 07, 2019
The beauty of God
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
The truth, beauty, and goodness of God
In The Urantia Book, we learn that three of the attributes of God are: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. And we discover that the three attributes work together: If something is true, it is also good and beautiful; if it is good, it is also true and beautiful; and if it is beautiful, it is also true and good.
0:1.17 Divinity is creature comprehensible as truth, beauty, and goodness; correlated in personality as love, mercy, and ministry; disclosed on impersonal levels as justice, power, and sovereignty.
2:7.11 All truth—material, philosophic, or spiritual—is both beautiful and good. All real beauty—material art or spiritual symmetry—is both true and good. All genuine goodness—whether personal morality, social equity, or divine ministry—is equally true and beautiful. Health, sanity, and happiness are integrations of truth, beauty, and goodness as they are blended in human experience. Such levels of efficient living come about through the unification of energy systems, idea systems, and spirit systems.
Today, I want to talk about the beauty that is God. I want to talk about how the beauty of God seems to exist just for the sake of existing. Sometimes, this is just overwhelming to me. God must be a very beautiful person who knows us very, very well.
The humble ball cactus
From time to time, a dear friend and I travel up the mountains in Colorado just to get away and enjoy the solitude - and yes, the beauty - of God's creation. For several years now, we have had the chance to go during this Springtime season, when the first flowers are coming alive from their months of Winter privation.
One of the most charming and predictable of these sightings is the humble ball cactus. The image here is one that I captured of this cactus in all its glory. Each year around the middle of April, and into May, these cacti begin to bloom on the south-facing hillsides where we visit. They sit very low to the ground, and one has to be mindful of them, as they are usually not very remarkable. But their crowning glory are the incredibly beautiful pink flowers that just mushroom up in clusters - sometimes six or more per plant during this time of bloom. As you can see, they are lovely. But we have to remember when they bloom, and get there in a 2-3-week window, or we'll miss them altogether.
One day recently, we were talking about these lovely flowers, and how there might be thousands of them in the surrounding country, which is mostly open range for buffalo and antelope. Even here, where we visit, there are hundreds of them. It was a revelation to me that they continue their cycle of flowering mostly unseen and unappreciated by human beings. But, the incredible beauty that they display carries on unabated, whether it is seen or not. It made me realize that beauty of such a sort seems to exist for its own sake. I think of it as the habit of God. And to me, this says something profound about God. It is as if God has provided these little surprises for us here and there, and we can appreciate them, and him, by seeing them and being grateful. He must love us very dearly to provide us with wonders to behold. It really is true that "in him we live, move, and have our being!"
And that's not all!
There are certainly many examples of this truth in our world, if we care to look. We can see the hand of God everywhere in nature: the ephemeral, short-lived beauty of snowflakes, all unique; the ever-changing and dramatic shapes of clouds; the predictable beauty of the march of the moon phases; the underground cave filled with sparkling crystals growing in the dark; the cheerful song of the robin and the finch; the diverse display of the rain forest orchid that resembles birds and even human faces. And so many of these marvels are ignored and unappreciated by human eyes. Nevertheless, they exist - just because that is the nature of God's creation; to be beautiful!
Have you ever seen a geode? To the eye, it looks like just an ordinary rock. But crack it with a hammer, and it reveals a wondrous, sparkling crystalline interior, invisible until opened. That beauty was always there; it only took the right circumstance to reveal it. In this case, a hammer!
And when we come to appreciate nature in this way, we may begin to see the evidences of this incredible beauty more and more.
Our beautiful brethren
When once one's sensitivities are awakened to the fact of God's diverse and beautiful universe, we may also be able to begin to more fully appreciate each other, too. For each one of us is a unique and potentially good, true, and beautiful aspect of creation, too. In each one of us, there is a personality that has no duplicate. And this personality is the gift of God to the world. Just as beautiful Nature is the perfecting habit of God, each human being carries the potential of perfection as we strive for a beautiful character that reflects the perfect character of God. And oftentimes, that beauty is made visible through character growth inspired by hardship, just as the ball cactus produces its flowers as a result of the rigors of winter.
Look beneath the surface appearance of your brothers and sisters; delve into their lives - become interested in them - and discover the beauty that can be seen there. Look for it. There is the joyful enthusiasm and idealism of youth; the sublime patience and tolerance in those who face and overcome hardship; the character chiseled into the face of one who is devoted to duty; the inspiring peace of one who has sought and found God; the joy and beauty of one who grows old gracefully; the humility and joy of one who has mastered him/herself. And again, this is beauty that can oftentimes only be appreciated when one seeks it. In every life there is beauty.
It is hard NOT to be grateful in this beautiful world, this beautiful life. The difference between one who sees and one who does not see may be as simple as the consciousness of God and his handiwork - provided to all who have the eyes to see. Viewing the wonders of Nature and the beauty of our fellows inspires joy, peace, and great gratitude!
2:7.10 The religious challenge of this age is to those farseeing and forward-looking men and women of spiritual insight who will dare to construct a new and appealing philosophy of living out of the enlarged and exquisitely integrated modern concepts of cosmic truth, universe beauty, and divine goodness. Such a new and righteous vision of morality will attract all that is good in the mind of man and challenge that which is best in the human soul. Truth, beauty, and goodness are divine realities, and as man ascends the scale of spiritual living, these supreme qualities of the Eternal become increasingly co-ordinated and unified in God, who is love.
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Sat, April 27, 2019
Jesus and Spiritual Liberty
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
Jesus often spoke of spiritual liberty, or spiritual freedom. He spoke of setting the captives free. This article: 5 freedoms only Jesus can give by Alex McFarland talks about the Christian idea of freedoms that were supposedly won because of Jesus death through the so-called atonement. In my blog below, I want to discuss the ideas of spirirual freedom that Jesus promised throughout his LIFE, and that are available to all who enter the kingdom. But here's the five things that the article discusses:
"It is significant to reflect on the freedoms we have through Jesus Christ. His hard-won victory on the cross gives us these five liberties:
1. Freedom from guilt that all inherit
2. Freedom from sinful deeds we personally commit
3. Freedom within ourselves over personal struggles
4. Freedom from judgment that is ultimately coming
5. Freedom to face eternity, and our soul's final destiny"
Click to read the article
I take some issue with some of the five freedoms that are discussed in this article above, but it's really not my place to call out my Christian brethren for what they believe. Nevertheless, having been brought up in a church that was bloated with rules and regulations - a church that preached my inherent sinfulness - a church that blamed me and my sins (and God) for Jesus' terrible death...well, I have to say that discovering The Urantia Book and the true teachings of Jesus was a truly liberating experience.
I want to go through some of the most beautiful and inspiring teachings of Jesus regarding true spiritual freedom with you and talk about how readings these passages impacted my life. I am hoping that you might also be weary of being told that you are innately sinful and eager to feel liberated from that, and other misconceptions about who and what you are - and who and what God is.
141:5.1 I have come into the world to proclaim spiritual liberty to the end that mortals may be empowered to live individual lives of originality and freedom before God.
141:7.6 Jesus laid great emphasis upon what he called the two truths of first import in the teachings of the kingdom, and they are: the attainment of salvation by faith, and faith alone, associated with the revolutionary teaching of the attainment of human liberty through the sincere recognition of truth, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
How do you discern truth? For me, the truth was defined by the Church. I learned that the priest, the bishop, the pope were the representatives of Jesus, and they knew what I should do. I had to be baptized and go to church every Sunday, for starters. Not going to church on Sunday constituted a serious sin that could earn you eternal damnation! Talk about bondage...
One of the most exhilarating freedoms that I enjoy because of the true teachings of Jesus is freedom to commune with the spirit of God without any intermediaries - no priest, no preacher, no bishop, no pope - no human being can stand between me and God. My authority for good conduct resides right within me - the authority of God-within.
155:6.3"Your religion shall change from the mere intellectual belief in traditional authority to the actual experience of that living faith which is able to grasp the reality of God and all that relates to the divine spirit of the Father. The religion of the mind ties you hopelessly to the past; the religion of the spirit consists in progressive revelation and ever beckons you on toward higher and holier achievements in spiritual ideals and eternal realities."
149:2.10 [Jesus] denounced slavish devotion to meaningless ceremonials and exposed the fallacy of materialistic worship. He boldly proclaimed man's spiritual freedom and dared to teach that mortals of the flesh are indeed and in truth sons of the living God.
Thawing out frozen religion
155:3.8 Jesus repeatedly taught his apostles that no civilization could long survive the loss of the best in its religion, And he never grew weary of pointing out to the twelve the great danger of accepting religious symbols and ceremonies in the place of religious experience. His whole earth life was consistently devoted to the mission of thawing out the frozen forms of religion into the liquid liberties of enlightened sonship.
I love that phrase: "thawing out the frozen forms of religion into the liquid liberties of enlightened sonship." Some of the frozen forms of religion can be found in the belief that Bible scripture is inerrant and not to be questioned. Other forms are religious rituals that must be performed in order to please God - things like sacraments and the form of the Catholic Mass that requires almost mathematical precision in order to celebrate Jesus' simple remembrance supper.
179:5.4 In instituting this remembrance supper, the Master, as was always his habit, resorted to parables and symbols. He employed symbols because he wanted to teach certain great spiritual truths in such a manner as to make it difficult for his successors to attach precise interpretations and definite meanings to his words. In this way he sought to prevent successive generations from crystallizing his teaching and binding down his spiritual meanings by the dead chains of tradition and dogma. In the establishment of the only ceremony or sacrament associated with his whole life mission, Jesus took great pains to suggest his meanings rather than to commit himself to precise definitions. He did not wish to destroy the individual's concept of divine communion by establishing a precise form; neither did he desire to limit the believer's spiritual imagination by formally cramping it. He rather sought to set man's reborn soul free upon the joyous wings of a new and living spiritual liberty.
It is so good to know that anyone, anywhere, can celebrate this meaningful remembrance supper and the Master is really present.
Freedom to love - not fear - the Father
190:3.1 You also are called to publish the good news of the liberty of mankind through the gospel of sonship with God in the kingdom of heaven.
Another valuable freedom that we acquire through the teachings of Jesus is the freedom from fear of God. In my view, fear of God is behind a lot of evil doings on this earth. How liberating it is to be able to know God - personally - as a loving a attentive Father, rather than a judgmental and frightening judge who is just looking for you to mess up! Once we discover God within us - the Thought Adjuster - and realize what a miracle that indwelling spirit is...after that, it is no longer possible to think of God as anything but a loving presence - the loving Father of our spirit youth.
147:6.6 He taught that those who know God can enjoy the liberty of living without deceiving themselves by the licenses of sinning.
Dare I say that I have become free from sin? It sounds almost too good to be true, but I feel that it is true. One major revelation from the life of Jesus is his teaching about evil, sin, and iniquity. He redefines sin for us so that we understand that sin is not some arbitrary act or thought or omission that is designated by traditional religious authority. Instead it is the deliberate violation of the will of God. That's it. So, the responsibility to be sinless rests solely with the individual. And the better one knows God, it becomes highly unlikely that that person will want to sin against him. He is so lovable and good. All we want to do is love him and please him to the best of our ability. God's holy will brings joy, and it is not a burden to find and do it. Sinning becomes irrelevant.
And this new attitude of living - this new way of approaching God yields rewards in the spirit. Practicing the religion of Jesus - the religion of personal spiritual experience- gives the believer the experience of real "first-hand religion." And that is highly satisfying - and liberating!.
Freedom to seek and recognize the Truth, wherever it might be
Even though Jesus is no longer with us as a physical presence, he is present with us as a very definite spiritual presence - the Spirit of Truth .
"The new helper which Jesus promised to send into the hearts of believers, to pour out upon all flesh, is the Spirit of Truth. This divine endowment is not the letter or law of truth, neither is it to function as the form or expression of truth. The new teacher is the conviction of truth, the consciousness and assurance of true meanings on real spirit levels. And this new teacher is the spirit of living and growing truth, expanding, unfolding, and adaptative truth."
194:2.2 The first mission of this spirit is, of course, to foster and personalize truth, for it is the comprehension of truth that constitutes the highest form of human liberty.
194:3.5 On the day of Pentecost the religion of Jesus broke all national restrictions and racial fetters. It is forever true, "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." On this day the Spirit of Truth became the personal gift from the Master to every mortal.
And it is my experience that this good spirit really does lead me into truth. And when I find it, it resonates like a clear bell in my inner spirit. I experienced that when I found The Urantia Book, and many times since.
180:5.2 Divine truth is a spirit-discerned and living reality. Truth exists only on high spiritual levels of the realization of divinity and the consciousness of communion with God. You can know the truth, and you can live the truth; you can experience the growth of truth in the soul and enjoy the liberty of its enlightenment in the mind, but you cannot imprison truth in formulas, codes, creeds, or intellectual patterns of human conduct. When you undertake the human formulation of divine truth, it speedily dies. Post-mortem salvage of imprisoned truth, even at best, can eventuate only in the realization of a peculiar form of intellectualized glorified wisdom. Static truth is dead truth, and only dead truth can be held as a theory. Living truth is dynamic and can enjoy only an experiential existence in the human mind.
Now, I call that real freedom! And there are more instances I could cite of spiritual liberty - one beautiful one is the freedom from fear of death. Jesus showed us with the resurrection of Lazarus - and through his own resurrection - that mortals like us have our own resurrection to look forward to. Jesus never taught eternal damnation, but eternal progress. He never inspired fear at all, but always encouraged us to "fear not."
Finally, I offer this wonderful passage about the freedoms of the Kingdom ... a beautiful place of peace and spiritual liberty that is available to all:
Freedom Attitudes of the Kingdom-Dweller
170:2.1 The Master made it clear that the kingdom of heaven must begin with, and be centered in, the dual concept of the truth of the fatherhood of God and the correlated fact of the brotherhood of man. The acceptance of such a teaching, Jesus declared, would liberate man from the age-long bondage of animal fear and at the same time enrich human living with the following endowments of the new life of spiritual liberty:
1. The possession of new courage and augmented spiritual power. The gospel of the kingdom was to set man free and inspire him to dare to hope for eternal life.
2. The gospel carried a message of new confidence and true consolation for all men, even for the poor.
3. It was in itself a new standard of moral values, a new ethical yardstick wherewith to measure human conduct. It portrayed the ideal of a resultant new order of human society.
4. It taught the pre-eminence of the spiritual compared with the material; it glorified spiritual realities and exalted superhuman ideals.
5. This new gospel held up spiritual attainment as the true goal of living. Human life received a new endowment of moral value and divine dignity.
6. Jesus taught that eternal realities were the result (reward) of righteous earthly striving. Man's mortal sojourn on earth acquired new meanings consequent upon the recognition of a noble destiny.
7. The new gospel affirmed that human salvation is the revelation of a far-reaching divine purpose to be fulfilled and realized in the future destiny of the endless service of the salvaged sons of God.
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Tue, April 16, 2019
Thoughts on Holy Week
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
Ordinarily, this blog begins with a snippet from an article in the Christian press. I get ideas from certain articles; I like to comment on them using Urantia Book teachings. But at Easter, it is very depressing to find article after article about the atonement - how Jesus was a sacrifice for our terrible sins, and the sins of Adam. And, how God demanded this sacrifice. So, this Easter Week, I am making a blog that I hope will speak to all articles of that sort. They are just my personal musings, but I hope you can stick with me and see how The Urantia Book's teachings about Jesus can really alter one's perceptions of what's real - and for the better!
The draw of Holy Week
Holy Week is a big deal for most Christian people, including me. I count myself in that group, although I am not really a Chrsitian. My religion has evolved since I found The Urantia Book, and so, I now consider myself a "Jesusonian." I particularly like this characterization of the job of the Jesusonian:
195:10.5 In winning souls for the Master, it is not the first mile of compulsion, duty, or convention that will transform man and his world, but rather the second mile of free service and liberty-loving devotion that betokens the Jesusonian reaching forth to grasp his brother in love and sweep him on under spiritual guidance toward the higher and divine goal of mortal existence. Christianity even now willingly goes the first mile, but mankind languishes and stumbles along in moral darkness because there are so few genuine second-milers—so few professed followers of Jesus who really live and love as he taught his disciples to live and love and serve.
The events of Holy Week seem to impact me in an even greater measure after finding out so much about the real story in The Urantia Book. Reading the incredibly detailed account of those terrible days will make anyone who reads them want to do everything they can to further the teachings of this Son of Man who gave his life for his ideals. That the original message has gotten lost in the maze of Christian thoughts of atonement and a vengeful God makes the desire to share Jesus' simple and beautiful Gospel of the kingdom even more pressing.
When I was a kid in Catholic school, and even into my late teens and early twenties, Holy Week was a special time. I can remember going to church on several of the Holy Week days, when special ceremonies were performed. The church itself is very starkly decorated during this time. The statues are covered in purple wraps, there are no flowers. All is plain and bare. My predominant feeling during those times was one of great sadness. I felt - and still feel - so very sad about how Jesus was treated and how he suffered. But back then, there was also a pressing feeling of guilt because I was taught - as you probably were, too - that Jesus suffered all of that agony because I was a wretched sinner.
Part of me never really believed that. It just did not make sense that the actions of two human beings (Adam and Eve) could stir up the emotions of God so dramatically that he had no recourse but to kill his only begotten son to make up for it. Who would do that? I can't even imagine a human father acting that way.
Things I discovered in The Urantia Book
When I found The Urantia Book, not only did I discover that the atonement was not part of Jesus' mission here. I also found out that Adam and Eve were not the first humans, but divine beings in their own right. It's true that they did not do the right thing. It's true that they suffered for what they did wrong and so did their children. But there has never been a "fall of man" because of Adam and Eve.
I also discovered that the real villains in the history of our world are Caligastia, Lucifer, and Satan. Had it not been for them, Adam and Eve might have fared much better. One of the most important parts of Jesus' multi-faceted bestowal was to take back the sovereignty of the planet from these rebels and cast them out. And he did that on Mt Herman during what has come to be known as the "Great Temptation."
Jesus - an greater hero than I ever thought
All of this is leading up to why Holy Week has special significance for me since finding out the truth about Jesus. The truth is that Jesus really did not have to die on the cross. He was given a chance to return to the Father after his baptism. This happened during the Forty Days on Mt Hermon:
136:3.5 While he tarried on the mountain, talking with Gabriel, the Constellation Father of Edentia appeared to Jesus and Gabriel in person, saying: "The records are completed. The sovereignty of Michael number 611,121 over his universe of Nebadon rests in completion at the right hand of the Universal Father. I bring to you the bestowal release of Immanuel, your sponsor-brother for the Urantia incarnation. You are at liberty now or at any subsequent time, in the manner of your own choosing, to terminate your incarnation bestowal, ascend to the right hand of your Father, receive your sovereignty, and assume your well-earned unconditional rulership of all Nebadon. I also testify to the completion of the records of the superuniverse, by authorization of the Ancients of Days, having to do with the termination of all sin-rebellion in your universe and endowing you with full and unlimited authority to deal with any and all such possible upheavals in the future. Technically, your work on Urantia and in the flesh of the mortal creature is finished. Your course from now on is a matter of your own choosing."
But Jesus did not choose to leave Urantia:
136:4.9 [Gabriel] indicated to Jesus that it would afford his Paradise brother, Immanuel, great satisfaction if he, Jesus, should see fit to finish up his earth career of incarnation as he had so nobly begun it, always subject to the Father's will. On the third day of this isolation Jesus promised himself he would go back to the world to finish his earth career, and that in a situation involving any two ways he would always choose the Father's will. And he lived out the remainder of his earth life always true to that resolve. Even to the bitter end he invariably subordinated his sovereign will to that of his heavenly Father.
And then he spent the rest of the forty days formulating plans and making decisions that would guide his ministry to our world. That is a section that is so fascinating and so full of unknown details about Jesus ... click here to read about those decisions.
What was Jesus' real mission here, if not atonement?
Jesus' mission here encompassed the following elements:
He was to regain sovereignty from the rebels
He was to reveal the heavenly Father to mortals and reveal the good news of sonship with God and the reality of the brotherhood of all humanity - the gospel of the kingdom.
"God can be revealed to the finite sons of the material worlds, by the divine Son of the spiritual realms, only as a Father. You can know the Eternal as a Father; you can worship him as the God of universes, the infinite Creator of all existences."
And he was to reveal the Father through a life lived as a normal human being; a human being whose life was dedicated to doing the will of the Father in all things. His was a model life - a pattern life - that was to be the inspiration for the creatures inhabiting the whole universe of Nebadon, and for all time.
Finally, he revealed the religion of personal spiritual experience that is appropriate for all of us - free of dogma, tradition and crystallization. It is how the captives are liberated to live lives of originality and freedom:
169:4.13 Jesus is the spiritual lens in human likeness which makes visible to the material creature Him who is invisible. He is your elder brother who, in the flesh, makes known to you a Being of infinite attributes whom not even the celestial hosts can presume fully to understand. But all of this must consist in the personal experience of the individual believer. God who is spirit can be known only as a spiritual experience. God can be revealed to the finite sons of the material worlds, by the divine Son of the spiritual realms, only as a Father. You can know the Eternal as a Father; you can worship him as the God of universes, the infinite Creator of all existences."
Part of every normal life is death. Just as certainly as every mortal is born of woman, every mortal must eventually die. Jesus was not to be exempted from that necessity. And this is the heart of the matter, and why his horrible sufferings and torment are so remarkable to witness for someone like me. Knowing that he could have terminated his mission once the Lucifer rebellion had been ended that day on Mt Hermon, but that he chose instead to fulfill the will of the Father to complete his mortal life - well, that's pretty heroic.
The life he lived is his legacy - not his death
Studying the life of Jesus is extremely eye-opening. To think that he could have chosen not to live that life in our midst says so much about Jesus. For, studying and learning the details of that life is so valuable to any person who wants to know the best way to live. He gave us that. He left no writing. He did not establish a church. But he lived a life dedicated to the Father's will. And in doing so, he revealed that Father to us, to our "creature eyes." Said Jesus:
180:6.8 "Down here I have taught you in proverbs and spoken to you in parables. I did so because you were only children in the spirit; but the time is coming when I will talk to you plainly concerning the Father and his kingdom. And I shall do this because the Father himself loves you and desires to be more fully revealed to you. Mortal man cannot see the spirit Father; therefore have I come into the world to show the Father to your creature eyes. But when you have become perfected in spirit growth, you shall then see the Father himself."
He told us about the Father over and over. He taught us how to communicate with the Father, through prayer and meditation. He showed us by example how to relate more successfully with our brothers and sisters. He told us we are not inherently sinful, and relieved us of that terrible burden of original sin. And he revealed a God of love, whose nature is incompatible with any form of atonement. To think that he stayed and fulfilled such a life of example and inspiration when he could have terminated his bestowal earlier fills my heart with gratitude.
His last week of life was so full of goodness and humanity...so full of lessons that are as fresh today as they were then. His devoting a whole day to a callow youth who simply craved his companionship; his new commandment, given at the Last Supper, stands as a testament to his whole life and provides a simple blueprint for right conduct; his humility in washing the apostles' feet is another of those lessons of goodness; and his very human agony in the garden, when he realized what was to happen holds such meaning for all of us. He endured and he prevailed and even up to the last, he ministered to those around him - the women on the way to Golgotha, the thief on the cross, the Roman soldier who witnessed his bravery. But of all the goodness that Jesus displayed, his words of forgiveness for those who killed him reverberate throughout the centuries.
Jesus revealed a God of love - and forgiveness
And this is a thought about that that echoes for me: if Jesus revealed the heavenly Father to us, and he forgave those who transgressed against him so horribly, how can anyone think that God would heap punishment and shame and guilt on all people for all time because of something that Adam and Eve supposedly did? And demand that Jesus die because of it...? It does not make sense. If Jesus can forgive, we must know that the heavenly Father also forgives his erring children.
Finally, I offer this passage from Meaning of the Death on the Cross
Jesus lived and died for a whole universe, not just for the races of this one world. While the mortals of the realms had salvation even before Jesus lived and died on Urantia, it is nevertheless a fact that his bestowal on this world greatly illuminated the way of salvation; his death did much to make forever plain the certainty of mortal survival after death in the flesh.
Though it is hardly proper to speak of Jesus as a sacrificer, a ransomer, or a redeemer, it is wholly correct to refer to him as a savior. He forever made the way of salvation (survival) more clear and certain; he did better and more surely show the way of salvation for all the mortals of all the worlds of the universe of Nebadon.
Happy Easter, everyone!!!
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Sat, April 06, 2019
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
All of us want to be happy. What stops us from achieving lasting happiness? This article: Jesus and the Psychology of Happiness by Shayne Looper caught my attention as a topic that could mean a lot to many people. Do the teachings of Jesus help us to find happiness? I'll share some of my experiences with those teachings from The Urantia Book, but first here are some nice snips from the article, which is well-worth the read:
"In recent years, research in the field of psychology increasingly has turned toward the light rather than away from the darkness; that is, has turned its attention to gaining happiness rather than to treating pathology. This is not just pop psychology going through a phase. A quick search of Google Scholar will confirm academia's growing interest in positive psychology.
"John Ortberg points out that psychologists who focus their efforts on helping people achieve happiness will inevitably find themselves using values-laden language. They cannot help but enter the arena of ethics and morality, where the experts have not been scientists but philosophers and religious authorities. They frequently cite the Buddha, Aristotle, Confucius, and others.
"Although Jesus did not talk about happiness as such, he did talk about joy, which he saw as the result of the good life. He did not see joy as the sap running through the tree but as the fruit the healthy tree produces. For Jesus, it is righteousness - right relationships with God and people - not happiness, that is key."
Click to read more
The Urantia Book influence
I may not know a lot about psychology, but I do know when I am happy and when I am not. Can you relate? There was a time in my life when I was decidedly unhappy - maybe discontented would be the right word. I had periods of relative happiness, episodes of happiness, but my overall life experience was one of discontent.
All of that changed when I finally reached the point where I was able to see that my discontent was the result of my own faulty decisions in life. Soon after I gave up trying to control my life on my own and surrendered my life to God's guidance, I found The Urantia Book. Since then, my life has taken a decided turn for the better - and the happier! In fact, I now bisect my life into two halves: before The Urantia Book and after. After is MUCH better!
The reason for this transformation is simple: transcending one's small self and identifying with the Higher Self raises one's life to a new nobility as a faith son of God. It establishes us in the family of God and assures us that we are loved and cared for, that we are never alone, and that we have a great and glorious future - an eternal future - filed with God, growth, love, fellowship, and yes - JOY! And that future can begin right here and now as we make the decision to turn our will to God and walk the spiritual path with him. I love this Urantia Book passage:
100:4.3 Health, mental efficiency, and happiness arise from the unification of physical systems, mind systems, and spirit systems. Of health and sanity man understands much, but of happiness he has truly realized very little. The highest happiness is indissolubly linked with spiritual progress.
Jesus defines happiness attitudes
Although there is not a lot in The Urantia Book specifically regarding Jesus with happiness, probably the most significant is contained in the Ordination Sermon, commonly thought of as the Beatitudes.
140:5.6 The faith and the love of these beatitudes strengthen moral character and create happiness. Fear and anger weaken character and destroy happiness. This momentous sermon started out upon the note of happiness.
"Happy are the poor in spirit, the humble, for theirs are the treasures of the kingdom of heaven.
"Happy are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
"Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
"Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
"Happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Happy are they who weep, for they shall receive the spirit of rejoicing.
"Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
"Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.
"Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.
These beatitudes inspire anyone who reads them to live a better life, a braver life, a more joyous life. Aspiring to live the values embodied in the beatitudes promises joy. And this promise is fulfilled for anyone who tests them. Many of them bespeak a life of self-forgetfulness. This is the secret, in my view: learning to live life more "other-oriented" than self-oriented; worrying less about what's happening to me, and more about what's important to someone else. Learning to love others...
Why are some people happier than others?
Here's a short discourse by Jesus to Simon's question about happiness:
149:5.1 Simon asked the Master: "Why are some persons so much more happy and contented than others? Is contentment a matter of religious experience?" Among other things, Jesus said in answer to Simon's question:
149:5.2 "Simon, some persons are naturally more happy than others. Much, very much, depends upon the willingness of man to be led and directed by the Father's spirit which lives within him. Have you not read in the Scripture the words of the wise man, `The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts'? And also that such spirit-led mortals say: `The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a goodly heritage.' `A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked,' for `a good man shall be satisfied from within himself.' `A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance and is a continual feast. Better is a little with the reverence of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred therewith. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without rectitude.' `A merry heart does good like a medicine.' `Better is a handful with composure than a superabundance with sorrow and vexation of spirit.'
149:5.3 "Much of man's sorrow is born of the disappointment of his ambitions and the wounding of his pride. Although men owe a duty to themselves to make the best of their lives on earth, having thus sincerely exerted themselves, they should cheerfully accept their lot and exercise ingenuity in making the most of that which has fallen to their hands. All too many of man's troubles take origin in the fear soil of his own natural heart. `The wicked flee when no man pursues.' `The wicked are like the troubled sea, for it cannot rest, but its waters cast up mire and dirt; there is no peace, says God, for the wicked.'
Sowing and reaping
For me - and maybe for you, too - the life that is lived for God and for others is truly a life of happiness and joy. A life lived under self-will is a life dooomed to a harvest of discontent and downright unhappiness. Because when we are too self-centered, we sow too much into the "fear soil" of our own hearts. Living in the kingdom and for God; living as a peacemaker - a humble, merciful seeker of righteousness waters our life to produce the fruits of the Spirit!
The teachings of The Urantia Book can help any struggling soul to find a happier life. For more inspiration about happiness and joy, see our topical study about Joy in The Urantia Book. In it, you will find many more Jesus quotes about joy. Here's a nice one to get you started. Be of good cheer! :
137:8.14 "I have come to preach the glad tidings of the kingdom. I have not come to add to the heavy burdens of those who would enter this kingdom. I proclaim the new and better way, and those who are able to enter the coming kingdom shall enjoy the divine rest. And whatever it shall cost you in the things of the world, no matter what price you may pay to enter the kingdom of heaven, you shall receive manifold more of joy and spiritual progress in this world, and in the age to come eternal life.
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Sat, March 09, 2019
Living in the Kingdom
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
Here's a wonderful article - the first in a series of blogs, called An Everyday Kind of Jesus By Alicia Purdy. I like her style! And I think you will, too, especially if you are a Bible-reading Christian. I am going to add a blog of my own below which is informed by The Urantia Book...but first, here's a nice snip from Alicia's blog:
"I'm going to start right up front by telling you that being a real person and being a Christian aren't two conflicting states of being- at least not in my world. I hope you'll join me here as I, a real human, navigate life in light of the grace of God. Whether or not you believe in Jesus, accept Jesus, like Jesus or think you're Jesus, I am looking forward to sharing some thoughts, lessons learned, regrets (maybe), insights, challenges and other sundry real-person, life-actually wisdom that will hopefully inspire or at least entertain you."
Click to read the article
It's important for "everyday" kinds of people to speak up and speak out about how they navigate the troubled waters of modern life here on Urantia. It is good to share with others our practical ways of finding the Father's will and living in the kingdom of heaven. In fact, living in the kingdom is the surest way for anyone to find God's will. It is not all that elusive. Remember: the kingdom is WITHIN us. And it's never a burden or something that we should be reluctant to embrace. The kingdom provides a safe bastion of peace and spiritual joy - a solid platform from which to be in the world, but not of it.
Jesus' original gospel is sweet. It's simple. In fact, it may be so simple that those who hear it may be confounded. It consists of only two elements. The first requires faith. I accept by faith that I am a child of God - that he is my spirit Father. The second element springs from that faith/belief and it says that all other human beings are also children of God. This fact makes us all siblings in the family of God. The gospel encompasses Jesus' two great commandments: love God, love people. Believing in this gospel is your ticket into the kingdom. Here's what Jesus taught about it:
170:2.1 The Master made it clear that the kingdom of heaven must begin with, and be centered in, the dual concept of the truth of the fatherhood of God and the correlated fact of the brotherhood of man. The acceptance of such a teaching, Jesus declared, would liberate man from the agelong bondage of animal fear and at the same time enrich human living with the following endowments of the new life of spiritual liberty:
The possession of new courage and augmented spiritual power. The gospel of the kingdom was to set man free and inspire him to dare to hope for eternal life.
The gospel carried a message of new confidence and true consolation for all men, even for the poor.
It was in itself a new standard of moral values, a new ethical yardstick wherewith to measure human conduct. It portrayed the ideal of a resultant new order of human society.
It taught the pre-eminence of the spiritual compared with the material; it glorified spiritual realities and exalted superhuman ideals.
This new gospel held up spiritual attainment as the true goal of living. Human life received a new endowment of moral value and divine dignity.
Jesus taught that eternal realities were the result (reward) of righteous earthly striving. Man's mortal sojourn on earth acquired new meanings consequent upon the recognition of a noble destiny.
The new gospel affirmed that human salvation is the revelation of a far-reaching divine purpose to be fulfilled and realized in the future destiny of the endless service of the salvaged sons of God.
That's pretty heady stuff - pretty grand and glorious promises! Who wouldn't want to experience that?
Getting to know God
Having faith in the existence of God is something that many people experience. And yet, a lot of us believe in a God who's just a little bit scary! As we've grown up and heard about him, we might get the idea that he's a deity that is SO big, and SO powerful that we can't come close to him. And also we might think that he's just a little bit unpredictable. Maybe if I do the wrong thing, there's going to hell to pay. Some people think that, literally!
Thinking of God as an impersonal "It" can bring those thoughts. But, when we know God as a person, when we can experience him as a Father, the dynamic can change dramatically.
Did you have a good father? If you did, lucky you! Not everyone is fortunate that way. But when we discover the Fatherhood of God, we discover a Father who IS good...a Father who loves us like a rock...a dad whose lap we can sit on and whose ear is always bent towards us. Best of all, he's Father to OUR earthly fathers, too. They are all just little kids like us. It helps if we can see our own dads this way, especially if they haven't always done the right thing by us.
I love this passage in The Urantia Book about God and how good he is:
2:6.1 In the physical universe we may see the divine beauty, in the intellectual world we may discern eternal truth, but the goodness of God is found only in the spiritual world of personal religious experience. In its true essence, religion is a faith-trust in the goodness of God. God could be great and absolute, somehow even intelligent and personal, in philosophy, but in religion God must also be moral; he must be good. Man might fear a great God, but he trusts and loves only a good God. This goodness of God is a part of the personality of God, and its full revelation appears only in the personal religious experience of the believing sons of God.
Having that personal religious experience of God is life-changing. How do we get it? For me, it was like getting to know a new person for the first time. Because of the Urantia Book teachings about the indwelling Thought Adjuster, it became easy for me to just start talking to God in my inner thoughts, and having the faith that I was on the right track. Again, the kingdom is within us.
I wanted more than anything to live in the kingdom, so, I just began sharing my inner life with God - having an inner dialogue with him. And even when nothing particularly changed in my outer life, my attitudes changed. My perspectives changed. My relationships changed. It was is if I was seeing the world again through new eyes. Knowing that there is this loving presence with me all the time means so much to me. Here's a great way to frame it that could be a game-changer for you, as it was for me.
Facing new situations used to be scary for me. Being fearful is a hard way to go through life. Today, I know to ask God to help me think the right way about whatever situation I am facing. I ask him to go before me and make my way smooth. In any moment of uncertainty, I know that I have only to breathe a momentary prayer to God - to just mentally look in his direction as I proceed. Help is always forthcoming. It comes through better thinking, expectant faith, and the assurance that all is well. Responding to life from that perspective is so different than responding from fear.
That kind of experience builds upon itself. The more we succeed, the more experience we gain. I like the saying: The better it gets, the better it gets. And that's how I feel about God and kingdom living.
The Father rules the universe - he is a mighty ruler, for sure. But now I know that he rules the universe by the power of his LOVE. Love is always the right response, no matter what the question may be. And love is always the will of God. If there's ever a question of what God's will is, always choose the loving option. Life in the kingdom is a life lived for love...love of God and love for my brothers and sisters. It's really very simple...not always easy, but very simple.
What's not easy? It's not always easy to be kind to someone who rubs me the wrong way. It's not always easy to let someone have the last word. It's not always easy to step out of my comfort zone so that I can help someone else. It's not always easy to give of myself or be generous with my resources. But sincerely desiring to be a good citizen of the kingdom and wanting to stay there is a great incentive to take those chances.
I love Jesus' teachings at Tyre, that talk about some of these attitudes that are not always easy. For example:
You are destined to live a narrow and mean life if you learn to love only those who love you. Human love may indeed be reciprocal, but divine love is outgoing in all its satisfaction-seeking. The less of love in any creature's nature, the greater the love need, and the more does divine love seek to satisfy such need. Love is never self-seeking, and it cannot be self-bestowed. Divine love cannot be self-contained; it must be unselfishly bestowed.
God-knowing individuals are not discouraged by misfortune or downcast by disappointment. Believers are immune to the depression consequent upon purely material upheavals; spirit livers are not perturbed by the episodes of the material world. Candidates for eternal life are practitioners of an invigorating and constructive technique for meeting all of the vicissitudes and harassments of mortal living. Every day a true believer lives, he finds it easier to do the right thing.
As you grow older in years and more experienced in the affairs of the kingdom, are you becoming more tactful in dealing with troublesome mortals and more tolerant in living with stubborn associates? Tact is the fulcrum of social leverage, and tolerance is the earmark of a great soul. If you possess these rare and charming gifts, as the days pass you will become more alert and expert in your worthy efforts to avoid all unnecessary social misunderstandings. Such wise souls are able to avoid much of the trouble which is certain to be the portion of all who suffer from lack of emotional adjustment, those who refuse to grow up, and those who refuse to grow old gracefully.
That last one is particularly pertinent, as I am definitely "older in years!" Having some experience in the kingdom is wonderful. Having been within its protective and peaceful environs has changed my life for the better. It's a place I will never leave. Never.
The Urantia Book is full of information about the kingdom. I have really only scratched the surface. We have a good topical study on it HERE. But, the best explanation of it - the best invitation to it is given by Jesus in Paper 170. I hope you'll take it to heart, join up, join in, and help make your life - and the life of all your siblings - better. It's your kingdom as much as it is mine! And entrance is assured if you are sincere.
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Wed, February 13, 2019
Where do you find Jesus?
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
Where do YOU find Jesus? This article called: 'The Church is a living sanctuary where we encounter Jesus' – Archbishop By Monique Agius, asks the faithful to believe that they should encounter Jesus in the sanctuary of the Catholic Church. I was brought up to believe this in my Catholic schools, but things change - especially when we know better. My blog is below, but first, here's a snip from the article:
"Archbishop Charles Scicluna reminded the faithful that the Church is a living sanctuary where one encounters Jesus and warned against turning the Church into a marble museum or a crystal or art museum. Mgr Scicluna was presiding over Mass at the Collegiate Parish Church of St Paul's Shipwreck in Valletta on Sunday. Mgr Scicluna explained that the Church gives the faithful the opportunity to strengthen unity within the community. The Archbishop stated that Sunday Mass was the criteria to overcome injustice.
"The Archbishop reminded that the earliest reference to the "Lord's Supper", a rite traditionally identified with the Eucharist is found in the Letter to the Corinthians which was written before the Gospels. He then spoke of the need to be a witness of Christ in one's daily life, saying that St Paul gave one hope."
Click to read the article
How it Was
When I grew up, the church was a place where I went every day except Saturday. In those days, daily Mass was a part of every Catholic kid's education. And of course, Sunday Mass was a day of "obligation," and every Catholic was expected to fulfill that obligation; in fact, to neglect that obligation constituted grave sin. So, being in church was an accepted and necessary part of life.
I was taught that Jesus was there in the church. The crucifix hanging over the altar was a fixture in every church that was a constant reminder. Not only that, but the tabernacle - a sort of little gold house with lacy curtains that sat on top of the main altar- was where the consecrated wafers for Mass were kept. Those consecrated wafers were, and still are, thought to be the actual presence of Jesus - his actual body and blood that was "transubstantiated" from bread and wine into his actual physical substance during Mass. At special times, the monstrance - a large, ornate sculpture that resembled the sun - was brought out for special devotion to Jesus. In the center of the "sun" was a small receptacle where a large, consecrated wafer was kept under glass, so as not to get dirty. It is this wafer that is adored during these special devotional times.
All of this is by way of sharing with you the importance of the church itself to Catholics. It's little wonder that many of us grew up believing that Church was where Jesus lived, much like the bishop teaches in the article above. In my studies, I never remember being taught that I could find God - or Jesus - anywhere but in the confines of the church building. I was taught to pray to Jesus, to Mary, and to the saints, but prayer was very ritualized, too. There were set prayers that had to be memorized and recited. Spontaneity was not encouraged. It never occurred to me to talk to Jesus, or to God.
The article referenced above says quite a lot about Paul, but not all that much about Jesus. It is curious, isn't it? These days, I look at Paul with a very jaundiced eye. In my view, Pauline Christianity does not bear a lot of resemblance to the Jesusonian teachings of The Urantia Book. In fact, considering his doctrines of atonement and a wrathful God, it is very unlike what I now understand about either God or Jesus.
When I was in my 20s and seriously weighing a decision to stop going to church, it was the words of Jesus - not Paul - that somewhat set my mind at ease. In my experience, almost everything I ever heard Jesus say rang true to me. I trusted Jesus because of that, and I suspected that even if I did leave the church, I could still be okay with Jesus. Today, I understand that that inner certainty about Jesus was most likely the ministry of the Spirit of Truth. It gave me courage. And I needed courage; when one decides to stop going to church, one is really ceasing to be a Catholic, because that's the only place where Mass happens. The Mass IS Catholicism. And deviation from Church attendance is grounds for hellfire and eternal damnation.
Fast forward about 15 years, when I found The Urantia Book. During the intervening years, I did leave the church. Unfortunately, my belief in the church was still so ingrained in me that when I left the church, I effectively left God behind, too. Those were difficult years. But somewhere in my deepest mind, I always believed in Jesus. I believed that he understood why I did what I did. But I did not know how to contact him, because I was not willing to go back to church. But when I did finally surrender to Jesus, it was the old prayer - the "Our Father" that was the first prayer that I said. And I did go back to Mass, too - at least briefly. Old patterns are difficult to alter. The Church was my only connection to spirituality then. In the transition to the new teachings of The Urantia Book, the Catholic rituals provided a much-needed bridge.
As soon as I opened The Urantia Book to Part IV - the Life and Teachings of Jesus, I knew that my faith was not misplaced. I found the Jesus that I always knew was the true Savior - the understanding, forgiving friend of sinners.
And I discovered God again, too, in a way that I had never known him. I discovered that he had been with me all along as the Thought Adjuster - living in my mind, guiding me through the twists and turns of the life I had chosen. I saw in retrospect how his presence had made a huge difference in my life, even when I did not acknowledge or understand him. I may have forsaken him, but He had never forsaken me.
This revolutionary teachings of the presence of God-within as the Thought Adjuster made life so very different from that moment on! I learned that God cannot be contained in a building, in a tabernacle, in a wafer, in a sacrament. I learned that God is truth, God is beauty, and God is goodness. I may find God in the forest, at the Safeway store, at the park with the children, at the post office, in the hospital, in the old-age home, and yes - even at church. But he's only found at any of these places because I bring him there with me. He does not live separate from me. Moreover, I discovered God to be a person - a personality who can be known and loved, not feared. A Father/God who loves me as an individual person and whose will for me is only good.
The teachings of the ministry of the Indweller also open wide the door to true religion and what religion really is. From that teaching springs the revelation about the religion that Jesus himself practiced and preached: the religion of personal spiritual experience. This religion is surely one of the most liberating teachings that can set the spiritual captive free! And it is a teaching that can be lived out and proven to each individual. No priest required; no sacrament required; no church required. Just you and God...oh, joy!!!
How it Is
Today, I rarely go to the Catholic Church. But when I go, I am always glad. The memories of my childhood in the Church are not all bad - in fact, the rituals, the smells, the statues, the candles...all of these things have a certain remembered comfort that goes along with them. I almost always take Communion when I go to Mass, even though the priests would label me a heretic and condemn me to hell for it. In my heart, I know that Jesus does not feel that way. I know that Jesus always invites all who will come to his table.
Paul single-handedly turned the sublimely simple remembrance supper of Jesus into the ritualistic ceremony of transubstantiation, making it far more exclusive and mysterious than it ever should have been. How I wish that the simple Remembrance Supper inaugurated by Jesus at the Last Supper would be re-discovered and adapted to the Catholic Mass - so that all who wish to, might take part in this lovely ritual of fellowship with Jesus and fellowship with those who love him. The teachings of The Urantia Book would set this ritual free and allow all followers of the Master to join in free and loving fellowship.
But then, that would truly be the end, wouldn't it? If something like that happened, the Church would no longer be an exclusive club. If anyone who wanted could share a simple remembrance supper free from intermediaries, what would the priests and bishops do with themselves? If the church building became just a building where believers gathered to share their spiritual experiences of God together, would it still have the same draw? If everyone understood that they carry God with them at all times, anyone's living room might become as inspiring a church as any magnificent edifice.
I know that the Church is not ready for any such thing. Man-made, evolutionary religion is quite a long, drawn-out affair. It will likely take centuries for the Church - any church - to catch up to the teachings of The Urantia Book about God. The revelational religion of personal experience will upstep it it one heart at a time. But in the meantime, those of us who have discovered those teachings can begin to see the truth of these promises:
100:7.18 Jesus was the perfectly unified human personality. And today, as in Galilee, he continues to unify mortal experience and to co-ordinate human endeavors. He unifies life, ennobles character, and simplifies experience. He enters the human mind to elevate, transform, and transfigure it. It is literally true: "If any man has Christ Jesus within him, he is a new creature; old things are passing away; behold, all things are becoming new."
Jesus really does simplify life. I invite all who can relate to my musings here to explore The Urantia Book. Read Part IV; discover Jesus anew in your own hearts; discover the indwelling fragment of God in your heart and prove to yourself the freedom of a life lived in partnership with God. Don't wait for Sunday church. Find God today - where you are and as you are.
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Wed, January 16, 2019
Urantia Book Evangelism
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
What do you think of when you hear the word "evangelism?" Do you think: conservative? preaching? Bible? Christianity? Is evangelism a good thing? Is it effective in gaining souls for God? This article: Evangelism isn't just for the Evangelicals by The Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes is written from the perspective of "progressive" Christianity. My blog is below with some Urantia Book-based observations, but first, here are a few snippets from the article, which is a good one.
"It seems to me that liberal, progressive Christianity really is good news: I have seen lives and faith transformed by it. But our theology and practice of evangelism need to be shaped by the liberal nature of the Christianity — indeed, the Christ — that we seek to spread.
"The heart of liberal Christianity, for me, is, fundamentally, very orthodox: the belief that God's love is unconditional, and is enough. This is news that people want and need to hear ... We know enough from the insights of psychology to know that knowing yourself to be loved is, itself, transformative."
Click to read more
And I say - Amen! More about that below...
Evangelism in The Urantia Book
The word "evangelism" is not contained in The Urantia Book. The word "evangel" is, however. Here's one example in Rodan's philosophy:
160:5.3 If you are not a positive and missionary evangel of your religion, you are self-deceived in that what you call a religion is only a traditional belief or a mere system of intellectual philosophy. If your religion is a spiritual experience, your object of worship must be the universal spirit reality and ideal of all your spiritualized concepts. All religions based on fear, emotion, tradition, and philosophy I term the intellectual religions, while those based on true spirit experience I would term the true religions.
Semantics - understanding the word "evangelism"
I decided to make a little study of the word "evangelism" and its offshoots, like evangelist, as regards the teachings of Jesus in The Urantia Book. Here's what I found:
While we are never specifically advised to "evangelize" in The Urantia Book, Jesus enjoins us several times - especially in his resurrection appearances - to "proclaim" the gospel of the Kingdom - the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind. Please see HERE.
In common American usage, the word "evangelize" is synonymous with the word "proclaim," and to me, means much the same thing. I like the word; it has an element of spiritual zeal associated with it - a zeal that I definitely feel when I consider the impact on my personal spiritual life as a result of adapting and adopting Urantia Book teachings. And in the end, that good news of the Kingdom is something that I want to witness to, and yes, evangelize to others when possible in my daily life. Nevertheless, it does have its frothy counterparts...and here, we want to take heed, lest we fall into a practice of evangelism that has been shown to repel, rather than attract.
I suspect that Jesus' use of this word "proclaim" is used very wisely, as other common synonyms for "evangelize" include:
preachify: (definition: preach or moralize tediously)
proselytize: (definition: convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another)
sermonize: (definition: deliver an opinionated and dogmatic talk to someone)
Jesus did not ask us to preachify, proselytize, or sermonize. I think many would agree that there are those in the world - self-proclaimed and even many famous evangelists - who have given the word an unfortunate connotation in the eyes of truth-seekers by embodying these three qualities in their efforts.
Semantics - understanding the word "Proclaim"
"Proclaim," as Jesus has suggested we do, has the following positive verbs as synonyms:
...among numerous others.
Semantics - understanding the word "Preach"
Jesus also urges us to "preach" the gospel. Definitions of preach include:
deliver a sermon or religious address to an assembled group of people, typically in church.
publicly proclaim or teach
earnestly advocate (a belief or course of action)
And preach has numerous synonyms, including evangelize:
It seems to me that we want to keep these definitions and synonyms - and their nuances - in mind when considering the idea of evangelism and be mindful of the highest usages of the word "evangelize" and "evangelism" in our own efforts to do as Jesus has asked. In other words, we would always take care that our spiritual ministry to others remain a positive experience and not one where the one we wish to help feels proselytized-to, preachified-to, or sermonized-to.
What Jesus asked us to do
Here is a statement by the Master, using both "proclaim" and "preach" in his Discourse on Sonship and Citizenship (bolding by me):
178:1.11 Remember that you are commissioned to preach this gospel of the kingdom—the supreme desire to do the Father's will coupled with the supreme joy of the faith realization of sonship with God—and you must not allow anything to divert your devotion to this one duty. Let all mankind benefit from the overflow of your loving spiritual ministry, enlightening intellectual communion, and uplifting social service; but none of these humanitarian labors, nor all of them, should be permitted to take the place of proclaiming the gospel. These mighty ministrations are the social by-products of the still more mighty and sublime ministrations and transformations wrought in the heart of the kingdom believer by the living Spirit of Truth and by the personal realization that the faith of a spirit-born man confers the assurance of living fellowship with the eternal God.
And all of the above is by way of saying that any followers of Jesus, students of The Urantia Book, all those who espouse the gospel of the Kingdom - the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man - can claim to be evangelists just as much as any Christian - and can do an even better job of it because this new gospel of the Kingdom is one of great hope and truly good news!
However, it might be better to forego the semantics altogether, and just do as the Master enjoined us to do: preach and proclaim this gospel of the kingdom—the supreme desire to do the Father's will coupled with the supreme joy of the faith realization of sonship with God—and do not not allow anything to divert your devotion to this one duty.
A Different concept
Remember it is simply "friendship with God" that we hope to inspire. Again words from the Master:
159:3.9 In preaching the gospel of the kingdom, you are simply teaching friendship with God. And this fellowship will appeal alike to men and women in that both will find that which most truly satisfies their characteristic longings and ideals.
How different - how refreshing - this simple gospel is when contrasted to the traditional Christian gospel of Jesus as sacrificial lamb, original sin, and repentance. Our "characteristic longings and ideals" can surely be satisfied by such a message of goodness and good will! As mentioned in the article above, knowing one is loved by God is a good tonic - transformative indeed to know that we can be friends with God.
For even more advice from Jesus on how to be a good ambassador of the Kingdom, please enjoy his discourse called : Instructions for Teachers and Believers.
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