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Wed, February 13, 2019

Where do you find Jesus?

By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders Catholicism, Urantia Book, church sanctuary, remembrance supper, Jesus, God, religion, Paul

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

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 evangelism, Urantia Book, Jesus, preach, proclaim, Christianity, gospel of the kingdom

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:

affirm
announce
declare
demonstrate
indicate
profess
publish
...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:

exhort
teach
evangelize
inform
minister
...among others.

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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Sat, January 12, 2019

We are his hands; we are his feet

By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders service, God, Christianity, Urantia Book, Jesus, religion of Jesus, meals on wheels

Are you a Bible-believing Christian? A Urantia Book reading Jesusonian? Do you believe that the Spirit of Truth is real? Do you believe that this Spirit inspires us to act in Godly ways and minister as Jesus did: as we pass by? This Christian-oriented article: A thrilling Christianity vs. a boring one by Nolan Harkness caught my eye. My Urantia Book-based blog follows below. But first, here's a tantalizer from the article, which I recommend...

"To me there is nothing more exciting in all of Christian-dom than to be led by the Spirit of God. The scriptures declare that "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Romans 8:14 KJV)

"...how sad it is to see professing believers stuck in a religious rut. Boring, boring, boring! I was asked some time ago to teach the Adult Sunday School class in my home church. The topics were revival and being revived by the Holy Spirit in our personal lives. One morning I asked the question, "How many of can remember when God recently impressed on our hearts something specific He wanted us to do?"

Click to read the article

________________

We are his hands; we are his feet

A dear friend and spiritual sister of mine who has since passed away said something to me once that has stuck with me for many years. Every time I think of her now, I remember it. She said: "We are His hands; we are His feet." And I take that to mean that we are to follow God's lead in life; we are to perform his holy will, which is always good, always helpful, always joyful. And we are to do it with willing hearts and deliberate intent. If not us, who?

And reading this article, I recalled an incident that happened in my life recently. I'd like to share it with you as a way of inspiration for your own life.

For a couple of years now, I have been a volunteer driver for my local Meals on Wheels organization. I have found it to be a satisfying and really fun way to do some service in my community. It's not for everyone, but for a retiree like me, it fits really well. I meet a lot of people, both other drivers and clients. One day, I delivered a meal to a dear soul who was a regular on my route.

I had known her for many months; she and I shared a love of God, of Jesus, and we always had a nice visit on my delivery day. This day, my client seemed very different - not at all herself, and I was concerned; so I notified the office, and sure enough...they did a welfare check on her that day and it turned out that she had had a stroke, and as a result, she was hospitalized for many weeks and was consequently removed from the meals program.

A few weeks later, my route got changed, so that even when she did come back, she would be on someone else's route. I kept getting the idea that I should just stop in and see her - let her know that I had been thinking of her. I resisted that idea for another week or so, but it kept coming to my mind until one day I just decided to go over there and see her. I bought a little bouquet of flowers and a chocolate bar and drove over. But she wasn't home!

I was disappointed, and I sat in the car for a few minutes, thinking about it and asking God if I had misread the prompt in my inner spirit. After thinking it over, I decided to just leave and try again another day, but as I turned the corner and her house disappeared from view, I suddenly decided to go around the block and check just once more. Honestly, it was as if someone else took the wheel. And at just that moment, she came walking across the street!

When she saw me, she broke into a grin and we embraced and ended up having a good long visit, during which she shared with me that she was really down on her luck. Her car was not working, her finances were stressed, and she was stuck at home; but her biggest concern was that her phone was out of minutes and she really felt stranded and out of touch. She desperately needed to get up to the WalMart for a phone card so she could stay in touch with her family and friends and doctors. We got in the car and went over to the shopping center and I was able to get that phone card for her. She was so happy! And I thought...if I had not come back around the corner, I would have missed her and missed the chance to be of service to her that day...a service she really needed. "Something" told me to go see her that day..."something" told me to turn the car around and go back.

I am a great believer in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and the leading of the indwelling spirit of God (the Thought Adjuster) in my mind. Are you? I truly believe that either one or all of those spirit presences inspired me to do the right thing that day, and I am so very grateful.

Making our religion come alive

Do you want your religion to be a more exciting and engaging part of your life? Are you desirous of being his hands, being his feet in the world? Engaging with God like that in my life is very important to me - I do believe that when we wish to help, when we wish to witness, when we wish to serve - God honors our desires and gives us the chance to act for him - for service to others IS part of his will for us. Moreover, an experience like this is an evidence to me that following Jesus' religion of personal spiritual experience is the very best kind of religion there can be. It really does feel like a partnership with God - because it IS!

The Urantia Book teaches us that "...religion is not merely a passive feeling of 'absolute dependence' and 'surety of survival'; it is a living and dynamic experience of divinity attainment predicated on humanity service."

And Jesus advised us about that too. He said:

"When the feelings of service for your fellow men arise within your soul, do not stifle them; when the emotions of love for your neighbor well up within your heart, give expression to such urges of affection in intelligent ministry to the real needs of your fellows."

Jesus' simple gospel of the Kingdom which declares that we are all children of God, with the resulting truth that we are all brothers and sisters of that same God - is our mandate to serve those sisters and brothers, as Jesus did. In his life and teachings, we see his example over and over. His practice of doing good "as he passed by" is a call for us to go and do likewise. And in doing so, we can experience a joy that is thrilling and very satisfying to our souls. There is little else in the world that can provide the kind of joy one feels when one has been of some service to another. It can make a bad day good, a low spirit soar, a resentful attitude joyful.

Are you ready to be transformed?

The Urantia Book teaches:

"The religion of Jesus does, indeed, dominate and transform its believers, demanding that men dedicate their lives to seeking for a knowledge of the will of the Father in heaven and requiring that the energies of living be consecrated to the unselfish service of the brotherhood of man."

How many ways can we think of to serve as we pass by? Maybe you're not in a position to deliver Meals on Wheels, but if we spend any time out in the world, we can always greet everyone with a smile; we can always be a listening ear for someone, we can always extend courtesy and consideration, even when we don't receive it. But most importantly, we can pray for - and look for - the chance to be of service. I truly believe that when we express that desire, God opens the door for us. What will your door look like?

All we have to do is listen and let him be the lamp unto our feet, directing our paths...adding the thrill of service can make our religion come alive with new meaning! And isn't that what we are here to do? But be aware...if you are sincere and you ask, be ready to swing into service!

See Blog on One Page  |  Link to External Source Article


Tue, January 08, 2019

A Good God

By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders prodigal son, Jesus, God the Father, Urantia Book, Adrian Warnock, the love of God

I found this article very refreshing: Jesus mugs you with his love by Adrian Warnock. This sweet article echoes the parable of the Prodigal Son - a most beloved parable in all Christian circles, and also in Urantia Book circles. It is an amazing story; and we'll blog about it below, but here's a little teaser:

"What does the father do? He doesn't wait for the confession to be over. He says, "Okay, enough, enough. Enough. Servants, bring a robe. Put it on my son. Put a ring on his finger. Kill the fatted calf. My son was dead and now he's alive again."

"This is a God of grace. "We love him not because we first loved him but because he first loved us." God doesn't just offer salvation; he goes and gets you. He pounces on you. He mugs you with his love. The Scripture says so.

Click to read the article

__________________

And so does The Urantia Book say so...not only that, but in The Urantia Book, you'll never be taught the error that God the Father is a vengeful, jealous deity - a God who loves, but a God that you must have a nagging fear about, lest he become angry with you. Instead, you'll discover a personal God with whom you can have a personal relationship. I like this passage that reveals this great truth in the section called The Personality of God:

Notwithstanding that God is an eternal power, a majestic presence, a transcendent ideal, and a glorious spirit, though he is all these and infinitely more, nonetheless, he is truly and everlastingly a perfect Creator personality, a person who can "know and be known," who can "love and be loved," and one who can befriend us; while you can be known, as other humans have been known, as the friend of God. He is a real spirit and a spiritual reality.

Actually, it is kind of rare to see an evangelical writer espousing this kind of radical love of God without any caveats about repentance; I like it! It gives me great hope that the love of God will eventually trump the fear of God in our churches!

We all love the Prodigal Son parable, don't we? It's a pretty simple story, and one that many of us can relate to. Jesus liked to tell this story along with the parable of the Lost Sheep, and also the parable of the Lost Coin. It's added to this blog below, and I hope you'll read it before you go, because it's far longer and far more inspiring that the story as told in our Bible records.

Relating

Many of us can relate to the story of the Prodigal Son, in regards to our relationship with God; I surely can. And what a joy it is when we realize that we've been welcomed back into God's good graces. Even if we've deliberately left him, as did the prodigal... when we come to our senses and realize that we made a terrible mistake, we discover that he's been waiting all along to take us back into his arms of love and shower us with blessings - no questions asked, no groveling required (although in my case, I felt I deserved to grovel a little bit...!)

In The Urantia Book, we learn of the true nature of God - and in that nature, there is no trace of vengeance, no indication that God withholds his love from anyone who seeks it, no judgment upon a soul who sincerely wants to enter the Father's heavenly kingdom. God really is crazy about us - he's crazy about you, and me, and all of his children. He lives as a supplicant in the mind of man - the lowest form of his will creatures - subjecting himself to the thoughts and the experiences of even the most spiritually lost of human beings. The aim of his indwelling our minds is that we might at some point look for and hear that "still, small voice" that tells of the joys of sonship with him. Jesus describes it this way:

148:6.10 "While the speech of God spoken from the whirlwind was a majestic concept for the day of its utterance, you have already learned that the Father does not thus reveal himself, but rather that he speaks within the human heart as a still, small voice, saying, `This is the way; walk therein.' Do you not comprehend that God dwells within you, that he has become what you are that he may make you what he is!"

It will be a great day when the world discovers the loving nature of God and realizes the intimacy of the relationship we can have with him; in my view, the unreasoned fear of God is the source of all the world's problems - the fear that his will must be unpleasant or opposed to mine, the fear that he's watching for me to make a mistake, the fear that I'll never measure up and deserve his love.

Discovering a good God

Such unfortunate ideas are not all that hard to understand when the world has always seen God as a supposedly loving parent of all of us who was so mad at Adam and Eve for sinning that he made the most innocent of his sons die a hideous death to make up for the badness of all the rest of us. After that, he felt better I guess, but it's made many of us believe that all of humanity has since then, been born under forfeit of sin. And poor Jesus had to pay the price. It's hard to feel good and do good with a willing heart when one feels always wrong and under a sentence of death.

A god like that might be rightfully thought of as a little bit unstable - all-powerful, yes, but just a bit capricious and withholding of his love. If he did that to Jesus, what might he do to me, a sinful wretch?

And so, when learning through the revelation of The Urantia Book that 1) the atonement is a false doctrine and 2) that God is never angry, never vengeful, but always loving and forgiving, it was with the greatest relief and gratitude!!!

Why should anyone believe such a thing? you might ask. I guess for me, it simply made better sense. I really wanted to love God - but it's hard to love someone that you're afraid of. The heavenly Father of The Urantia Book is so adorable, one can't help but love and believe in him. One of the authors of the book puts it this way in a section called The Love of God:

I find it easy and pleasant to worship one who is so great and at the same time so affectionately devoted to the uplifting ministry of his lowly creatures. I naturally love one who is so powerful in creation and in the control thereof, and yet who is so perfect in goodness and so faithful in the loving-kindness which constantly overshadows us. I think I would love God just as much if he were not so great and powerful, as long as he is so good and merciful. We all love the Father more because of his nature than in recognition of his amazing attributes.

I'd have to add: DITTO!

The Prodigal Son

As promised, here's the story of the Prodigal Son the way Jesus told it - also called The Lost Son; It's a long read, but well worth the effort:

169:1.1 On Thursday afternoon Jesus talked to the multitude about the "Grace of Salvation." In the course of this sermon he retold the story of the lost sheep and the lost coin and then added his favorite parable of the prodigal son. Said Jesus:

"You have been admonished by the prophets from Samuel to John that you should seek for God—search for truth. Always have they said, `Seek the Lord while he may be found.' And all such teaching should be taken to heart. But I have come to show you that, while you are seeking to find God, God is likewise seeking to find you. Many times have I told you the story of the good shepherd who left the ninety and nine sheep in the fold while he went forth searching for the one that was lost, and how, when he had found the straying sheep, he laid it over his shoulder and tenderly carried it back to the fold. And when the lost sheep had been restored to the fold, you remember that the good shepherd called in his friends and bade them rejoice with him over the finding of the sheep that had been lost. Again I say there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance. The fact that souls are lost only increases the interest of the heavenly Father. I have come to this world to do my Father's bidding, and it has truly been said of the Son of Man that he is a friend of publicans and sinners.

"You have been taught that divine acceptance comes after your repentance and as a result of all your works of sacrifice and penitence, but I assure you that the Father accepts you even before you have repented and sends the Son and his associates to find you and bring you, with rejoicing, back to the fold, the kingdom of sonship and spiritual progress. You are all like sheep which have gone astray, and I have come to seek and to save those who are lost.

"And you should also remember the story of the woman who, having had ten pieces of silver made into a necklace of adornment, lost one piece, and how she lit the lamp and diligently swept the house and kept up the search until she found the lost piece of silver. And as soon as she found the coin that was lost, she called together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece that was lost.' So again I say, there is always joy in the presence of the angels of heaven over one sinner who repents and returns to the Father's fold. And I tell you this story to impress upon you that the Father and his Son go forth to search for those who are lost, and in this search we employ all influences capable of rendering assistance in our diligent efforts to find those who are lost, those who stand in need of salvation. And so, while the Son of Man goes out in the wilderness to seek for the sheep gone astray, he also searches for the coin which is lost in the house. The sheep wanders away, unintentionally; the coin is covered by the dust of time and obscured by the accumulation of the things of men.

"And now I would like to tell you the story of a thoughtless son of a well-to-do farmer who deliberately left his father's house and went off into a foreign land, where he fell into much tribulation. You recall that the sheep strayed away without intention, but this youth left his home with premeditation. It was like this:

"A certain man had two sons; one, the younger, was lighthearted and carefree, always seeking for a good time and shirking responsibility, while his older brother was serious, sober, hard-working, and willing to bear responsibility. Now these two brothers did not get along well together; they were always quarreling and bickering. The younger lad was cheerful and vivacious, but indolent and unreliable; the older son was steady and industrious, at the same time self-centered, surly, and conceited. The younger son enjoyed play but shunned work; the older devoted himself to work but seldom played. This association became so disagreeable that the younger son came to his father and said: `Father, give me the third portion of your possessions which would fall to me and allow me to go out into the world to seek my own fortune.' And when the father heard this request, knowing how unhappy the young man was at home and with his older brother, he divided his property, giving the youth his share.

"Within a few weeks the young man gathered together all his funds and set out upon a journey to a far country, and finding nothing profitable to do which was also pleasurable, he soon wasted all his inheritance in riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a prolonged famine in that country, and he found himself in want. And so, when he suffered hunger and his distress was great, he found employment with one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into the fields to feed swine. And the young man would fain have filled himself with the husks which the swine ate, but no one would give him anything.

"One day, when he was very hungry, he came to himself and said: `How many hired servants of my father have bread enough and to spare while I perish with hunger, feeding swine off here in a foreign country! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no more worthy to be called your son; only be willing to make me one of your hired servants.' And when the young man had reached this decision, he arose and started out for his father's house.

"Now this father had grieved much for his son; he had missed the cheerful, though thoughtless, lad. This father loved this son and was always on the lookout for his return, so that on the day he approached his home, even while he was yet afar off, the father saw him and, being moved with loving compassion, ran out to meet him, and with affectionate greeting he embraced and kissed him. And after they had thus met, the son looked up into his father's tearful face and said: `Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no more worthy to be called a son'—but the lad did not find opportunity to complete his confession because the overjoyed father said to the servants who had by this time come running up: `Bring quickly his best robe, the one I have saved, and put it on him and put the son's ring on his hand and fetch sandals for his feet.'

"And then, after the happy father had led the footsore and weary lad into the house, he called to his servants: `Bring on the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry, for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they all gathered about the father to rejoice with him over the restoration of his son.

"About this time, while they were celebrating, the elder son came in from his day's work in the field, and as he drew near the house, he heard the music and the dancing. And when he came up to the back door, he called out one of the servants and inquired as to the meaning of all this festivity. And then said the servant: `Your long-lost brother has come home, and your father has killed the fatted calf to rejoice over his son's safe return. Come in that you also may greet your brother and receive him back into your father's house.'

"But when the older brother heard this, he was so hurt and angry he would not go into the house. When his father heard of his resentment of the welcome of his younger brother, he went out to entreat him. But the older son would not yield to his father's persuasion. He answered his father, saying: `Here these many years have I served you, never transgressing the least of your commands, and yet you never gave me even a kid that I might make merry with my friends. I have remained here to care for you all these years, and you never made rejoicing over my faithful service, but when this your son returns, having squandered your substance with harlots, you make haste to kill the fatted calf and make merry over him.'

"Since this father truly loved both of his sons, he tried to reason with this older one: `But, my son, you have all the while been with me, and all this which I have is yours. You could have had a kid at any time you had made friends to share your merriment. But it is only proper that you should now join with me in being glad and merry because of your brother's return. Think of it, my son, your brother was lost and is found; he has returned alive to us!'"

This was one of the most touching and effective of all the parables which Jesus ever presented to impress upon his hearers the Father's willingness to receive all who seek entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus was very partial to telling these three stories at the same time. He presented the story of the lost sheep to show that, when men unintentionally stray away from the path of life, the Father is mindful of such lost ones and goes out, with his Sons, the true shepherds of the flock, to seek the lost sheep. He then would recite the story of the coin lost in the house to illustrate how thorough is the divine searching for all who are confused, confounded, or otherwise spiritually blinded by the material cares and accumulations of life. And then he would launch forth into the telling of this parable of the lost son, the reception of the returning prodigal, to show how complete is the restoration of the lost son into his Father's house and heart.

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Mon, January 07, 2019

Jesus and the parenting experience

By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders Jesus, Urantia Book, Leslie Criss, parenting, jesus as father, jesus and siblings, death of Joseph, childhood of Jesus

I love this article about Jesus early years, about which the world knows so little: Don't forget the family of Jesus by Leslie Criss. My Urantia Book-based blog is below, but here's a charming little snip from the article:

"Interesting, isn't it? "Someone had to change his diapers." Someone had to teach him Scripture and prayer. And yes, he had to learn love from somewhere. "Jesus grew wise and became strong. God was pleased with him and so were the people" (Luke 2:52). And it's safe to assume it started because of what he learned from Mom, Dad and others. Wonder how the story might be different if Jesus had not grown up in a loving home?"

Click to read the article

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One of the best things about The Urantia Book is its revelations regarding Jesus early life - the years of his infancy, childhood, adolescence, young manhood, and adulthood - all before his public ministry which is pretty well-known.

I love the mental image in the paragraph above of Jesus having his diapers changed, his years of schooling, the loving home life that he enjoyed with Mary and Joseph. And it was a loving home. The celestials chose Jesus' parents well. They provided a rock-solid foundation for the life of their "child of promise."

Jesus did not just appear as a full-fledged Savior - not even as the full-fledged Son of God. His early experience as a human being was much like yours and mine. He had to learn to walk as a baby - he had to strive to talk and make himself understood - he had to go to school, and help around the house. He had playmates and adventures. He did not appear in this world knowing who he was; that knowledge came to him gradually. And before that knowledge came to him, he had to first grow up as a real human being.

Jesus was conceived in the normal way - yes, Mary and Joseph had sex! And Jesus was the result of that loving union. He was born in the normal way - he did not just suddenly appear outside of Mary's body. She went into labor and expelled him from her womb, as all mother's birth their children. She likely breast-fed him and fussed over him and cooed at him and sang to him. Joseph likely lifted him high up and made him laugh - maybe they played peek-a-boo with him. But most of all, they loved him and they provided a solid, safe, loving, and secure place for him to grow.

Please see THIS PAGE to access all the stories from these days and more in the Master's life

Mary and Joseph were young people; The Urantia Book tells us that Joseph was about 21 when he and Mary married. And with such a young couple who loved each other, it is not hard to imagine that they continued a normal married life - a married life that produced many children - this was long before the age of birth control pills! Jesus was the eldest of eight.

You can read all about the siblings of Jesus HERE.

The Father experience

And all of this early life of Jesus set the stage for one of the most interesting and significant parts of his life - the experience that following Joseph's untimely death. Jesus was only a lad of fourteen when that tragedy befell the Nazareth home; he was the eldest child - the eldest son. And it fell to him to step up and grow up far faster than he might otherwise have done. He suddenly became the man of the house - protector for Mary, support for the home, and father-brother to his siblings. The Urantia Book tells us:

127:0.2 No adolescent youth who has lived or ever will live on this world or any other world has had or ever will have more weighty problems to resolve or more intricate difficulties to untangle. No youth of Urantia will ever be called upon to pass through more testing conflicts or more trying situations than Jesus himself endured during those strenuous years from fifteen to twenty.

Having thus tasted the actual experience of living these adolescent years on a world beset by evil and distraught by sin, the Son of Man became possessed of full knowledge about the life experience of the youth of all the realms of Nebadon, and thus forever he became the understanding refuge for the distressed and perplexed adolescents of all ages and on all worlds throughout the local universe.

Slowly, but certainly and by actual experience, this divine Son is earning the right to become sovereign of his universe, the unquestioned and supreme ruler of all created intelligences on all local universe worlds, the understanding refuge of the beings of all ages and of all degrees of personal endowment and experience.

The most important part of all those years was the experience that Jesus gained by having to take on the mantel of father to his younger sisters and brothers. Later in his life, we realize that Jesus will never marry and have children of his own; nevertheless, the experiences he had during these trying years of adolescence provided this human Jesus with an opportunity to feelingly and experientially understand what parenthood was all about. And he was a master at it, despite his youth and the disappointments of having to become so suddenly responsible for so much.

By the time of Joseph's death, Jesus had already received the message from on high that he was to be about the "Father's business," and we learn:

126:0.1 Of all Jesus' earth-life experiences, the fourteenth and fifteenth years were the most crucial. These two years, after he began to be self-conscious of divinity and destiny, and before he achieved a large measure of communication with his indwelling Adjuster, were the most trying of his eventful life on Urantia. It is this period of two years which should be called the great test, the real temptation. No human youth, in passing through the early confusions and adjustment problems of adolescence, ever experienced a more crucial testing than that which Jesus passed through during his transition from childhood to young manhood.

When this tragedy befell the family, one might imagine that he may have been sorely confused in his deepest heart-of-hearts; and yet:

126:2.3 Jesus cheerfully accepted the responsibilities so suddenly thrust upon him, and he carried them faithfully to the end.

Parenthood

Parenthood is a subject that gets a lot of ink in The Urantia Book, but not a subject that we might readily associate with Jesus, unless we've read about it in its pages. First of all, we come to understand that the Fatherhood of God and the resultant brotherhood of all people is the bedrock of the gospel of the kingdom. The idea of the kingdom as a divine family is one that should thrill and comfort all of us because it places the reality of our relations with God into a family context - a perfect family context. .

Not everyone is blessed by loving parents or a successful family life; and yet, it is this very basic unit of society out of which whole civilizations are made. Jesus learned very early in his life how vital this family unit is; he was faced with the rigors and rewards - the failures and successes - the trials and victories of family life. As a child, he learned how to be a father from his earthly father, Joseph; he passed on these wise ways of fatherhood to his siblings, and later in his life, he taught the value and the reality of the Fatherhood of God to all who followed him.

And again, this should comfort all who have not had an ideal experience of child-parent relations. In my own life, discovering the "perfect parent," aka The heavenly Father - his loving and forgiving nature, his longing to fellowship with me, his desire for my success in life - has made a big difference in the way I view myself and in the way I view everyone else, too. Even the people who I have had the most issues with growing up, I now view as simple children of God, like me.

Jesus reveals the Father

This portion of Jesus' life as a surrogate father to his orphaned siblings reveals aspects of the heavenly Father that are stunning in their tenderness and exemplary in their execution. And these are traits that can be imitated in our lives, helping us to become more like God. Moreover, this part of Jesus life helps us understand how much God loves us, too. After all, Jesus says more than once: "He who has seen me has seen the Father." And in this demonstration of his own parenting experiences, we can much more easily see and accept that this is exactly how God acts with each of us, too.

There is a reason that the revelators tell us that we would do well to study the life of Jesus - and not just the public life that most people know. We learn:

2:0.1 The nature of God can best be understood by the revelation of the Father which Michael of Nebadon unfolded in his manifold teachings and in his superb mortal life in the flesh. The divine nature can also be better understood by man if he regards himself as a child of God and looks up to the Paradise Creator as a true spiritual Father.

The nature of God can be studied in a revelation of supreme ideas, the divine character can be envisaged as a portrayal of supernal ideals, but the most enlightening and spiritually edifying of all revelations of the divine nature is to be found in the comprehension of the religious life of Jesus of Nazareth, both before and after his attainment of full consciousness of divinity. If the incarnated life of Michael is taken as the background of the revelation of God to man, we may attempt to put in human word symbols certain ideas and ideals concerning the divine nature which may possibly contribute to a further illumination and unification of the human concept of the nature and the character of the personality of the Universal Father

In Jesus, we have a truly human brother-friend-father. Most importantly, we see in Jesus the human example of the Father's tender love for his children. Studying this portion of his life alone can be of immeasurable help to any parent; and it can be a kind reminder that all of us have a perfect divine parent of our own.

These years are completely unknown as yet on our world, save to those who have discovered The Urantia Book. To learn more about this period of Jesus' life, please see Papers 126: The Two Crucial Years and Paper 127: The Adolescent Years

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Mon, December 17, 2018

A Christmas story update

By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders three wise men, magi, star of bethlehem, Urantia Book, Christmas, Jesus

Here is an interesting Q+A from an article that crossed my inbox today, titled: Answer Line: Following the wise men to Jesus in the Longview News-Journal. It is one of those things that just begs a response for our readers who love The Urantia Book, or those who want to know more about it. This is, of course, a very timesly question. My short blog with a response from Urantia Book revelation is below, but here's the qestion and the answer as given:

QUESTION: My question is about the Christmas story. I read the Christmas story about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. When the wise men arrived two years later, they brought the gifts to him in a house. Was this house in the town of Bethlehem or Nazareth. Well, I read Luke and another version of the Bible. It says they returned to Nazareth. Have I opened a can of worms?

ANSWER: Theology professor Dr. Viktor Roudkovski was kind enough to email some information to help shed light on this. First, he pointed to Matthew 2:7-12, which of course talks about Herod sending the wise men to Bethlehem. Roudkovski said it's likely that Jesus' family lived in a house in Bethlehem for one to two years after Christ's birth. Then, the wise men came. Then Joseph was warned in a dream to escape with his family to Egypt because of Herod's plans to kill the baby. Then, Herod died and God told Joseph it was safe. That's when the family would have moved to Nazareth, which fulfilled the prophecy that Jesus was a Nazarene.


Click to read the whole article, which has even more Q+A in it...

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Most people know the Christmas story as told in the Bible. And it is a charming and very enduring story. Most everyone knows that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, that Mary and Jesus went there to fulfill the census requirement, that they could not find lodging at the inns in the town, that Jesus was born in very humble surroundings...and they also know about the Magi - the wise men who brought gifts - as well as the star that guided these dignitaries to Jesus. All by itself, it is a compelling story; but in The Urantia Book, we find details and context and color that has been unimaginable until now. This is true in regards to nearly all of the elements of the story, including the visitation of the wise men, discussed in the article above.

New details

Here are a few passages from Paper 122: The Birth and Infancy of Jesus; it is the new and accurate story of Jesus' nativity and includes details about the three visitors - who they were, why they came, and when they came to see Jesus. I recommend anyone who wants "the rest of the story" to click the link and read the nativity story as you may have never heard it before.

122:8.5 At the noontide birth of Jesus the seraphim of Urantia, assembled under their directors, did sing anthems of glory over the Bethlehem manger, but these utterances of praise were not heard by human ears. No shepherds nor any other mortal creatures came to pay homage to the babe of Bethlehem until the day of the arrival of certain priests from Ur, who were sent down from Jerusalem by Zacharias [the father of John the Baptist].

122:8.6 These priests from Mesopotamia had been told sometime before by a strange religious teacher of their country that he had had a dream in which he was informed that "the light of life" was about to appear on earth as a babe and among the Jews. And thither went these three teachers looking for this "light of life." After many weeks of futile search in Jerusalem, they were about to return to Ur when Zacharias met them and disclosed his belief that Jesus was the object of their quest and sent them on to Bethlehem, where they found the babe and left their gifts with Mary, his earth mother. The babe was almost three weeks old at the time of their visit.

We next learn the true story of the "star of Bethlehem" that legend says guided these wise men from Ur:

122:8.7 These wise men saw no star to guide them to Bethlehem. The beautiful legend of the star of Bethlehem originated in this way: Jesus was born August 21 at noon, 7 B.C. On May 29, 7 B.C., there occurred an extraordinary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces. And it is a remarkable astronomic fact that similar conjunctions occurred on September 29 and December 5 of the same year. Upon the basis of these extraordinary but wholly natural events the well-meaning zealots of the succeeding generation constructed the appealing legend of the star of Bethlehem and the adoring Magi led thereby to the manger, where they beheld and worshiped the newborn babe. Oriental and near-Oriental minds delight in fairy stories, and they are continually spinning such beautiful myths about the lives of their religious leaders and political heroes. In the absence of printing, when most human knowledge was passed by word of mouth from one generation to another, it was very easy for myths to become traditions and for traditions eventually to become accepted as facts.

Here's a little more info about Herod, King of Judea:

121:2.9 The Jews were unusually apprehensive and suspicious during the times of Jesus because they were then ruled by an outsider, Herod the Idumean, who had seized the overlordship of Judea by cleverly ingratiating himself with the Roman rulers. And though Herod professed loyalty to the Hebrew ceremonial observances, he proceeded to build temples for many strange gods.

121:2.10 The friendly relations of Herod with the Roman rulers made the world safe for Jewish travel and thus opened the way for increased Jewish penetration even of distant portions of the Roman Empire and of foreign treaty nations with the new gospel of the kingdom of heaven. Herod's reign also contributed much toward the further blending of Hebrew and Hellenistic philosophies.

And it is this same Herod who tried to track Jesus down and was determined to kill him, resulting in the slaughter of the innocents. The book does not specify, but one imagines that Herod was not eager to welcome any person who might be a threat to his total dominion over the Jewish peoples!

Back to Paper 122:

122:10.1 But the watchers for Herod were not inactive. When they reported to him the visit of the priests of Ur to Bethlehem, Herod summoned these Chaldeans to appear before him. He inquired diligently of these wise men about the new "king of the Jews," but they gave him little satisfaction, explaining that the babe had been born of a woman who had come down to Bethlehem with her husband for the census enrollment. Herod, not being satisfied with this answer, sent them forth with a purse and directed that they should find the child so that he too might come and worship him, since they had declared that his kingdom was to be spiritual, not temporal. But when the wise men did not return, Herod grew suspicious. As he turned these things over in his mind, his informers returned and made full report of the recent occurrences in the temple, bringing him a copy of parts of the Simeon song which had been sung at the redemption ceremonies of Jesus. But they had failed to follow Joseph and Mary, and Herod was very angry with them when they could not tell him whither the pair had taken the babe. He then dispatched searchers to locate Joseph and Mary. Knowing Herod pursued the Nazareth family, Zacharias and Elizabeth remained away from Bethlehem. The boy baby was secreted with Joseph's relatives.

122:10.3 When, after more than a year of searching, Herod's spies had not located Jesus, and because of the suspicion that the babe was still concealed in Bethlehem, he prepared an order directing that a systematic search be made of every house in Bethlehem, and that all boy babies under two years of age should be killed. In this manner Herod hoped to make sure that this child who was to become "king of the Jews" would be destroyed. And thus perished in one day sixteen boy babies in Bethlehem of Judea. But intrigue and murder, even in his own immediate family, were common occurrences at the court of Herod.

122:10.4 The massacre of these infants took place about the middle of October, 6 B.C., when Jesus was a little over one year of age. But there were believers in the coming Messiah even among Herod's court attachés, and one of these, learning of the order to slaughter the Bethlehem boy babies, communicated with Zacharias, who in turn dispatched a messenger to Joseph; and the night before the massacre Joseph and Mary departed from Bethlehem with the babe for Alexandria in Egypt. In order to avoid attracting attention, they journeyed alone to Egypt with Jesus. They went to Alexandria on funds provided by Zacharias, and there Joseph worked at his trade while Mary and Jesus lodged with well-to-do relatives of Joseph's family. They sojourned in Alexandria two full years, not returning to Bethlehem until after the death of Herod.

By the time Jesus was about three years old, Herod had died and his son, Herod Antipas, had taken the throne in Galilee, where Nazareth was. And so, feeling that Herod's son might be better than his father had been, Joseph took his little family there for good in 4 BC.

Read more in Paper 123: The Early Childhood of Jesus.

Even though the three wise men came to see Jesus very early in his infancy, and not years later, there is an interesting piece of information about a significant visit that Jesus did have when he was about two years old:

123:0.3 Throughout the two years of their sojourn at Alexandria, Jesus enjoyed good health and continued to grow normally. Aside from a few friends and relatives no one was told about Jesus' being a "child of promise." One of Joseph's relatives revealed this to a few friends in Memphis, descendants of the distant Ikhnaton, and they, with a small group of Alexandrian believers, assembled at the palatial home of Joseph's relative-benefactor a short time before the return to Palestine to wish the Nazareth family well and to pay their respects to the child. On this occasion the assembled friends presented Jesus with a complete copy of the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. But this copy of the Jewish sacred writings was not placed in Joseph's hands until both he and Mary had finally declined the invitation of their Memphis and Alexandrian friends to remain in Egypt. These believers insisted that the child of destiny would be able to exert a far greater world influence as a resident of Alexandria than of any designated place in Palestine. These persuasions delayed their departure for Palestine for some time after they received the news of Herod's death.

One can't help but wonder what might have happened had Mary and Joseph accepted the invitation to raise Jesus in Egypt. Of course, it is simply speculation...but of interest is the reference to Ikhnaton, a pivotal figure in Egyptian history. See "The Remarkable Ikhnaton" to find out more about him.

And there you have it - at least the bare bones of the story. There is much more in Paper 122 and Paper 123 (links above), including great detail about Mary and Joseph.

That's only the beginning!

And if you have ever been curious about those "lost years" of the Master's life between his infancy and his teenage years and beyond, look no further than this link, where all of those years are recounted for you.

Marry Christmas one and all!!!

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Mon, December 17, 2018

The Kingdom of Heaven: our forever family

By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders kingdom of heaven, Urantia Book, family, God the Father, Jesus,

Jesus DOES rock our world...and even moreso when we discover him as revealed in The Urantia Book. This article: Across the Pastor's Desk: Jesus turns our world upside down by Katelyn Rakotoarivelo seemed like a fairly typical Christian-oriented piece, but when I read it, I was inspired to blog about it. The article commemorates "Christ the King Sunday," a special Sunday in which Chrsitians remember Jesus as the King - and a prelude to Advent. The concept of the Kingdom - and Jesus as its king - is one that Urantia Book readers can remember because of Jesus' teachings about that whole concept. He really does turn it upside down, to our eternal benefit. Read the blog below, but first, a snip or two from the article:

After all, what is a king? In the U.S. today, we don't really think about kings and queens too much. For many of us, the term "king" either brings up fairytale images of servants and a fancy gold crown, or images of tyrannical kings and emperors of the past.

n John 18:36, Jesus says, "My kingdom is not from this world." Jesus is not a king who adheres to the world's ways of violence and of seeking wealth and power at any expense. Jesus is not a king who absentmindedly watches us from afar. Jesus is not a king who favors those the world deems most successful.

Jesus' kingdom is not from this world. Rather, Jesus as king and his kingdom turn all our notions of power, kingship and what's important upside down.

Click to read more...

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Jesus, the king?

In Jesus time here on earth, the Jews were looking for a king - a Messiah - who would wrest power away from the Romans and restore the former glory of the Jewish nation. They looked for him to come in power and glory and to do amazing things. And Jesus fulfilled some of those expectations. At one point - after the feeding of the five thousand - those who were following Jesus were determined to crown him as their king. After all, what he had done in this miracle was so astonishing...surely only the Messiah could have done it!

 

But Jesus refused to be their king.

152:3.1 The reaction of the multitude to this sudden and spectacular supplying of their physical needs was profound and overwhelming. For a long time the Jews had been taught that the Messiah, the son of David, when he should come, would cause the land again to flow with milk and honey, and that the bread of life would be bestowed upon them as manna from heaven was supposed to have fallen upon their forefathers in the wilderness. And was not all of this expectation now fulfilled right before their eyes? When this hungry, undernourished multitude had finished gorging itself with the wonder-food, there was but one unanimous reaction: "Here is our king." The wonder-working deliverer of Israel had come. In the eyes of these simple-minded people the power to feed carried with it the right to rule. No wonder, then, that the multitude, when it had finished feasting, rose as one man and shouted, "Make him king!"

152:3.2 This mighty shout enthused Peter and those of the apostles who still retained the hope of seeing Jesus assert his right to rule. But these false hopes were not to live for long. This mighty shout of the multitude had hardly ceased to reverberate from the near-by rocks when Jesus stepped upon a huge stone and, lifting up his right hand to command their attention, said: "My children, you mean well, but you are shortsighted and material-minded." There was a brief pause; this stalwart Galilean was there majestically posed in the enchanting glow of that eastern twilight. Every inch he looked a king as he continued to speak to this breathless multitude: "You would make me king, not because your souls have been lighted with a great truth, but because your stomachs have been filled with bread. How many times have I told you that my kingdom is not of this world? This kingdom of heaven which we proclaim is a spiritual brotherhood, and no man rules over it seated upon a material throne. My Father in heaven is the all-wise and the all-powerful Ruler over this spiritual brotherhood of the sons of God on earth. Have I so failed in revealing to you the Father of spirits that you would make a king of his Son in the flesh! Now all of you go hence to your own homes. If you must have a king, let the Father of lights be enthroned in the heart of each of you as the spirit Ruler of all things."

The prevailing belief in a king that would come with a show of great material power and strength was being transformed; and as a result, many abandoned Jesus when he refused to be their king, not understanding - maybe not wanting to understand - that their hopes for former glory would once again be thwarted.

The turnabout

And in fact, the whole notion of the Kingdom of heaven, with a king in charge of it, was one that Jesus really did turn on its head. In his teachings on the Kingdom, he put forth a novel idea of the kingdom as a family structure with - not a king - but a loving Father in charge of it, and all its inhabitants the children of that Father and brethren with each other.

170:2.12 Jesus desired to substitute for the idea of the kingdom, king, and subjects, the concept of the heavenly family, the heavenly Father, and the liberated sons of God engaged in joyful and voluntary service for their fellow men and in the sublime and intelligent worship of God the Father.

149:6.8 "In the kingdom of heaven, which I have come to declare, there is no high and mighty king; this kingdom is a divine family. The universally recognized and unreservedly worshiped center and head of this far-flung brotherhood of intelligent beings is my Father and your Father. I am his Son, and you are also his sons. Therefore it is eternally true that you and I are brethren in the heavenly estate, and all the more so since we have become brethren in the flesh of the earthly life. Cease, then, to fear God as a king or serve him as a master; learn to reverence him as the Creator; honor him as the Father of your spirit youth; love him as a merciful defender; and ultimately worship him as the loving and all-wise Father of your more mature spiritual realization and appreciation.

My experience

This teaching of Jesus that reveals the kingdom as a family is a concept that I had never heard before discovering The Urantia Book. The statement just above is so comforting; such a relief to discover God the Father as a loving, merciful, and all-wise parent, rather than an angry, judgmental and jealous god. So many of us grew up with that idea; and as a result, the literal fear of God (discussed by Jesus in the above passage; click on the link) has become standard operating procedure for much of the world. In my view, it is one of the most damaging (and erroneous) of beliefs. It shows itself in the blind adherence to tradition and ritual, in the atonement doctrine, in the belief in punishment, hell and damnation...

Not all of us have known the comfort and security of a loving family or loving parents; the discovery of the existence of a real and eternal spiritual family embodied in the kingdom of heaven can be a welcome lifeline for all who crave the true love of an ideal parent. It is part and parcel of the spiritual civilization that permeates the universe and that will never end. We are all part of it, if we so choose.

No loving parent wants to be feared; good parents want the best for their children, and want their love in return. Through adoption of the practical methods of God-consciousness given to us throughout The Urantia Book, we can prove to ourselves that God is, indeed, a loving person who is on our side and at our side - all the time. And the religion of Jesus is the most practical method for this proof.

Our Father is not a god who keeps tabs on us in order to catch us in wrongdoing, but a loving partner whose holy Presence within enriches and ennobles our lives and teaches us the joy and the peace that follow seeking and doing his will. When we approach him with the faith of the child that we truly are, the rewards are great. Life in the Kingdom is as close to heaven on earth as one can get!

And of course, we always have the amazing example of Jesus and his inspiring life; a life that he lived here in order to reveal the loving nature of God - his Father and our Father - to our creature eyes. If we really want to follow him and to discover the real nature of God, we have only to read PART IV of The Urantia Book. In its pages we discover this loving, tolerant, forgiving, and friendly God that all of our hearts crave.

Read more about the Kingdom of Heaven HERE and HERE

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Tue, November 20, 2018

A new and better life - reborn of the spirit!

By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders born again, born of the spirit, Jesus, Urantia Book, Nicodemus, religion, spirituality

This is an excellent article: 11-15 Gems from Jesus in the Shelbyville Daily Union.com, and one all followers of Jesus can agree upon - all those who who know the experience of being born of the Spirit have something wonderful in common. My Urantia Book blog on that topic is below, but here is a snip or two from the article:

"Even though the term "born again" has become a cliche' in our culture, Jesus' statement is no less true. If we are not born again (from above), we will not see the kingdom of God, not now, nor in eternity.

"Nicodemus, the religious leader that came to Jesus, is proof that a person can attend worship service, give to the offering, even become a member of the church in good standing, and still not be "born again." That person can even rise to a leadership position and not be "born again." To be "born again" implies a new and different life, a life-change. I there evidence that your life has changed? Is your life new, different than before.?"

Click to read more

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A spiritual bridge

The sublime experience of being born again is one that many of us have in common. It is a spiritual bridge where all followers of Jesus can meet; a commonality that binds us together as Kingdom dwellers, whether we are Christian or not, churched or not. We can all find things to disagree about when viewing religion and the differences in the way we understand religion - even the differences in the ways we understand Jesus; but anyone who has been born of the spirit holds a unifying experience that can be recognized by any other born-again person, too - an experience that can bind us together as children of God as no other experience can.

Jesus insists upon it as an experience we must have if we are to enter the Kingdom. In the Bible, we find just the one reference, the talk with Nicodemus; in The Urantia Book we see not only that story, but numerous other references about being born of the spirit.

Read The Talk with Nicodemus

What does The Urantia Book say?

And elsewhere in The Urantia Book we are educated about this requisite for Kingdom citizenship:

34:6.4 Spiritual forces unerringly seek and attain their own original levels. Having gone out from the Eternal, they are certain to return thereto, bringing with them all those children of time and space who have espoused the leading and teaching of the indwelling Adjuster, those who have been truly "born of the Spirit," the faith sons of God.

And this:

103:2.1 Religion is functional in the human mind and has been realized in experience prior to its appearance in human consciousness. A child has been in existence about nine months before it experiences birth. But the "birth" of religion is not sudden; it is rather a gradual emergence. Nevertheless, sooner or later there is a "birth day." You do not enter the kingdom of heaven unless you have been "born again"— born of the spirit. Many spiritual births are accompanied by much anguish of spirit and marked psychological perturbations, as many physical births are characterized by a "stormy labor" and other abnormalities of "delivery." Other spiritual births are a natural and normal growth of the recognition of supreme values with an enhancement of spiritual experience, albeit no religious development occurs without conscious effort and positive and individual determinations. Religion is never a passive experience, a negative attitude. What is termed the "birth of religion" is not directly associated with so-called conversion experiences which usually characterize religious episodes occurring later in life as a result of mental conflict, emotional repression, and temperamental upheavals.

My experience

It's an interesting thing. My own experience was one of those "stormy" ones described in this last passage; not everyone has that kind of experience, though. I met a man once who told me that his experience was one of the very gradual ones, as he had been raised by Urantia Book readers and he was always aware of God and the relationship he had with God. He never really had a specific experience that he could point to as his "birth" day. I was surprised when he told me that he sort of envied my experience of the stormy labor and delivery...!

I guess I can understand that. Having had a birth of the spirit that was so full of drama, angst, and fear mixed with desperation, surrender, and hope was so striking that I think of my life now in terms of "before and after." The change in my mind and spirit was pretty much instantaneous, but it took quite awhile for my life to really reflect the changes; nevertheless, I still vividly remember that blessed day when I came to my senses...

Rebirth means change

I shared in these blogs once or twice before that when I tried to explain my born-again experience to my devoted Catholic sisters they minimized it, saying that I had been born of the spirit at my baptism when I was an infant; that there really was no need for me to have had this experience - all I really ever had to do was return to the Church! And I guess that if I had been willing to accept the dogma, the tradition, the rules of the Church, maybe that might have worked. But I was not willing to take what I felt was a step backward into traditionalism.

But I see now that - like the man who grew up knowing God - the spiritual rebirth CAN be just such a gradual and natural process. The official "baptism" marks its beginnings, and, if all goes according to plan, the rebirth is one that evidences itself with proper spiritual nurture. In an ideal world, that would be the experience of all of us. This dark world is far from ideal, though, and many have to gain the Kingdom through hard-won victory over the world.

But, whether dramatic or gradual, true rebirth of the spirit can only be had by one who is willing to change and adapt oneself to God and his holy will. Sometimes, this can be had through a church/religious affiliation, but not always. In these days, more and more spiritual seekers are finding it difficult to align themselves with traditional and institutionalized religions. But the good news for all seekers is that being born again does not have to be associated with any church or any religion. It is a deep, personal, and willing re-alignment of the little self with God.

In The Urantia Book we find the reality of the indwelling God-within - the larger "Self" whose guidance and comfort attend us always and light our path. In the end, one who sincerely seeks the "assurances of the spirit of adventurous and progressive faith" can know of a certainty that they have indeed, been born again. For following that decision, things really do change - over time, or suddenly.

34:6.7 Those who have received and recognized the indwelling of God have been born of the Spirit. "You are the temple of God, and the spirit of God dwells in you." It is not enough that this spirit be poured out upon you; the divine Spirit must dominate and control every phase of human experience.

Self-will: a spiritual dead-end

For me - and maybe for many others, the problem was never authoritative certainty; I had long before left the Church of authority in the dust. No, my problem was that when I jettisoned the Church, I also jettisoned God and his will; I struck out on a life of self-will. And after a period of time that I call my "wilderness days," that self-will was proving to be a dead-end, for when I left the Church, I also drifted clear of all of my previous spiritual moorings. As many others may attest, living a life that is self-willed and without a spiritual purpose can be a very poor existence indeed.

Finding The Urantia Book was a huge part of my rebirth of the Spirit; I found the book when I was at a very low point and thus, ready for something different. Having reached a point of desperation, I was defeated and thus, teachable. And just then, The Urantia Book turned up...

Reading the revelations of God and his real nature, of Adam and Eve, of life after death, and certainly of Jesus and his original teachings had everything to do with providing truth to my weary soul - truth that I never was able to find within the confines of organized religion, and most certainly not through my own self-willed life, which was a cruel prison of its own. I was one of the spiritual captives who was being set free!

And from that day forward, the process of using my own self-will for the best purpose - choosing to seek the will of God - became my true salvation. This passage - among others - rang like a clear bell in my spirit, and is still my goal of living:

155:6.11 [Said Jesus:] Never forget there is only one adventure which is more satisfying and thrilling than the attempt to discover the will of the living God, and that is the supreme experience of honestly trying to do that divine will. And fail not to remember that the will of God can be done in any earthly occupation. Some callings are not holy and others secular. All things are sacred in the lives of those who are spirit led; that is, subordinated to truth, ennobled by love, dominated by mercy, and restrained by fairness — justice.

What does Jesus say about being born of the spirit?

Again - in The Urantia Book, the rebirth of the spirit is an important concept that is stressed many times. I will close with a few of the wonderful passages of Jesus in which he teaches about this marvelous rebirth:

First, here's what he said to Nicodemus - the familiar story from the Bible that is referenced in the article above:

142:6.4Jesus answered Nicodemus: "Verily, verily, I say to you,Nicodemus, except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Then replied Nicodemus: "But how can a man be born again when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born."

Jesus said: "Nevertheless, I declare to you,except a man be born of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. But you should not marvel that I said you must be born from above. When the wind blows, you hear the rustle of the leaves, but you do not see the wind—whence it comes or whither it goes—and so it is with everyone born of the spirit. With the eyes of the flesh you can behold the manifestations of the spirit, but you cannot actually discern the spirit."

And Nicodemus said: "But how can I begin to lay hold upon this spirit which is to remake me in preparation for entering into the kingdom?" Jesus answered: "Already does the spirit of the Father in heaven indwell you. If you would be led by this spirit from above, very soon would you begin to see with the eyes of the spirit,and then by the wholehearted choice of spirit guidance would you be born of the spirit since your only purpose in living would be to do the will of your Father who is in heaven. And so finding yourself born of the spirit and happily in the kingdom of God, you would begin to bear in your daily life the abundant fruits of the spirit."

And this:

155:6.3 "I have called upon you to be born again, to be born of the spirit. I have called you out of the darkness of authority and the lethargy of tradition into the transcendent light of the realization of the possibility of making for yourselves the greatest discovery possible for the human soul to make—the supernal experience of finding God for yourself,in yourself, and of yourself, and of doing all this as a fact in your own personal experience. And so may you pass from death to life, from the authority of tradition to the experience of knowing God; thus will you pass from darkness to light, from a racial faith inherited to a personal faith achieved by actual experience; and thereby will you progress from a theology of mind handed down by your ancestors to a true religion of spirit which shall be built up in your souls as an eternal endowment."

155:6.12 "You must cease to seek for the word of God only on the pages of the olden records of theologic authority.Those who are born of the spirit of God shall henceforth discern the word of God regardless of whence it appears to take origin. Divine truth must not be discounted because the channel of its bestowal is apparently human. Many of your brethren have minds which accept the theory of God while they spiritually fail to realize the presence of God. And that is just the reason why I have so often taught you that the kingdom of heaven can best be realized by acquiring the spiritual attitude of a sincere child. It is not the mental immaturity of the child that I commend to you but rather the spiritual simplicity of such an easy-believing and fully-trusting little one. It is not so important that you should know about the fact of God as that you should increasingly grow in the ability to feel the presence of God."

Finally - and in relation to the Gospel of the Kingdom:

193:0.3"And now you should give ear to my words lest you again make the mistake of hearing my teaching with the mind while in your hearts you fail to comprehend the meaning. From the beginning of my sojourn as one of you, I taught you that my one purpose was to reveal my Father in heaven to his children on earth. I have lived the God-revealing bestowal that you might experience the God-knowing career. I have revealed God as your Father in heaven; I have revealed you as the sons of God on earth. It is a fact that God loves you, his sons. By faith in my word this fact becomes an eternal and living truth in your hearts. When, by living faith, you become divinely God-conscious, you are then born of the spirit as children of light and life, even the eternal life wherewith you shall ascend the universe of universes and attain the experience of finding God the Father on Paradise."

Please see our topical study about the rebirth of the spirit HERE, where you'll find even more inspiring passages, too - from Jesus and from the authors of The Urantia Book.

Do you have an experience of being born-again? Please share!

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Sun, November 11, 2018

Jesus and his miraculous healings

By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders miracles of jesus, the herd of swine, Urantia Book, the Bible, Jonathan McAnulty, Jesus, Lazarus

Today, this title came across my radar: Search the Scriptures: The healing power of Jesus by Jonathan McAnulty, Minister. When I saw this title, my immediate reaction was : Search The Scriptures? How about we search The Urantia Book about the healing power of Jesus! I don't mean to discount this very fine opinion piece by Pastor McAnulty; nevertheless, in The Urantia Book we read about this mysterious healing power of the Master in greater detail than you can find anywhere else. So I went on my own search, and will share my findings with you in my blog on that fascinating subject below, ending with the story of this tortured man - Amos by name - "The Khersa Lunatic" in The Urantia Book; but first, here are a few snips from the article:

"The fifth chapter of the Gospel of Mark records for us the healing of the man possessed by a legion of demons in the region of the Gerasenes, on the south-east side of the Sea of Galilee. The man had been afflicted for some time and had been deemed both dangerous and undesirable. His problems were past human understanding, and beyond the ability of men to heal. Yet for Jesus, it was the work of moments to cast out the demons and restore the man to his former self.

"The region, also called the Gadarenes (Matthew 8:28), was not a part of the Jewish state, but was instead a collection of Gentile cities: the Decapolis (or Ten-Cities) (cf. Mark 5:20). It's Gentile nature is shown by the large herd of swine into which the Demons were cast. (cf. Mark 5:11-13) No respectable Jewish farmer would have had even one pig, let alone a herd. It is very possible that the Gerasene demoniac was himself a Gentile. The miracle, however, and Jesus subsequent work in the area at a later date, shows the concern of Christ even for the Gentiles, and foreshadowed the taking of the Gospel to "all the world."

Click to read more

_________________

Jesus as healer

The healings that happened during Jesus' sojourn with us are well-documented - both in the Bible, and most certainly in The Urantia Book. In the Bible, the accounts are straightforward and unadorned for the most part, and we can't help but marvel at even these sparse accounts because these amazing cures and healings are demonstrations of a divine Son doing seemingly impossible things. Jesus performed many miracles - not only healing miracles - but I think you might agree that the miracles of healing are particularly fascinating. Never before and never since, has the world been host to a divine being who performed such acts.

In The Urantia Book, we learn much more about Jesus and his ability to heal the sick - and even raise the dead, as happened with Lazarus. Even though his primary aim was not to become a healer, The Urantia Book tells us that because of his generous and sympathetic heart - and because the healings that happened were the Father's will - they were inevitable. I hope to illuminate some of them here. You'll see numerous blue links in the following piece. Clicking on any of them will open the text of The Urantia Book to that story

A spectacular healing

One of the most spectacular instance of Jesus' healing power is documented in both the Bible and in The Urantia Book. In the Bible gospels, this amazing miracle is simply recounted as "Jesus heals many," meriting a mere paragraph or two; in The Urantia Book we get the story of the healing of these 683 souls in great detail, including the events leading up to this event, which included the well-known water-to-wine event in Cana, and two subsequent incidents of so-called healing (see HERE). Jesus' fame was rapidly expanding, and this is why so many had followed him, hoping for healing for themselves and their loved ones.

As one reads this account of The Healing at Sundown in The Urantia Book, one discovers the human Jesus learning to control and direct his co-creative powers according to the will of the Father. And we begin to understand the often unintended or unconscious potentiality of this power inherent in this mighty God/man:

But of all the beings who were astonished at this sudden and unexpected outbreak of supernatural healing, Jesus was the most surprised. In a moment when his human interests and sympathies were focused upon the scene of suffering and affliction there spread out before him, he neglected to bear in his human mind the admonitory warnings of his Personalized Adjuster regarding the impossibility of limiting the time element of the creator prerogatives of a Creator Son under certain conditions and in certain circumstances. Jesus desired to see these suffering mortals made whole if his Father's will would not thereby be violated. The Personalized Adjuster of Jesus instantly ruled that such an act of creative energy at that time would not transgress the will of the Paradise Father, and by such a decision—in view of Jesus' preceding expression of healing desire—the creative act was. What a Creator Son desires and his Father wills IS. Not in all of Jesus' subsequent earth life did another such en masse physical healing of mortals take place.

Shortly thereafter, two other events happened that again raised the peoples' expectation: the healing of the widow's son in Nain and the healing of the centurion's son, as well as the dramatic healing of the leper. In the case of the leper, we learn that this was a true and deliberate act on the Master's part...

Jesus' first deliberate miracle of healing

146:4.3 Late on the afternoon of the third day at Iron, as Jesus was returning from the mines, he chanced to pass through a narrow side street on his way to his lodging place. As he drew near the squalid hovel of a certain leprous man, the afflicted one, having heard of his fame as a healer, made bold to accost him as he passed his door, saying as he knelt before him: "Lord, if only you would, you could make me clean. I have heard the message of your teachers, and I would enter the kingdom if I could be made clean." And the leper spoke in this way because among the Jews lepers were forbidden even to attend the synagogue or otherwise engage in public worship. This man really believed that he could not be received into the coming kingdom unless he could find a cure for his leprosy. And when Jesus saw him in his affliction and heard his words of clinging faith, his human heart was touched, and the divine mind was moved with compassion. As Jesus looked upon him, the man fell upon his face and worshiped. Then the Master stretched forth his hand and, touching him, said: "I will—be clean." And immediately he was healed; the leprosy no longer afflicted him.

146:4.5 This cleansing of the leper was the first so-called miracle which Jesus had intentionally and deliberately performed up to this time. And this was a case of real leprosy.

The Kingdom's first hospital

It seems fitting that the Kingdom had a facility for treating the sick. By that time, many were seeking healing from Jesus. It is in these recountings of the seaside hospital that the revelators begin to offer the reader a wealth of information regarding the power of Jesus' presence alone in regards to healing the sick in body, mind and spirit:

In connection with the seaside encampment, Elman, the Syrian physician, with the assistance of a corps of twenty-five young women and twelve men, organized and conducted for four months what should be regarded as the kingdom's first hospital. At this infirmary, located a short distance to the south of the main tented city, they treated the sick in accordance with all known material methods as well as by the spiritual practices of prayer and faith encouragement. Jesus visited the sick of this encampment not less than three times a week and made personal contact with each sufferer. As far as we know, no so-called miracles of supernatural healing occurred among the one thousand afflicted and ailing persons who went away from this infirmary improved or cured. However, the vast majority of these benefited individuals ceased not to proclaim that Jesus had healed them.

Many of the cures effected by Jesus in connection with his ministry in behalf of Elman's patients did, indeed, appear to resemble the working of miracles, but we were instructed that they were only just such transformations of mind and spirit as may occur in the experience of expectant and faith-dominated persons who are under the immediate and inspirational influence of a strong, positive, and beneficent personality whose ministry banishes fear and destroys anxiety.

So we see that, in many cases then, and subsequently, people were healed not because of any deliberate act of the Master, but because of his compassionate, sympathetic, and loving presence that ignited their faith.

A healing with a specific purpose

The healing of the man with the withered hand is another well-known, and true, miracle of healing, and in The Urantia Book we learn the whole story that ends with this statement:

This is the first case of a miracle to be wrought by Jesus in response to the challenge of his enemies. And the Master performed this so-called miracle, not as a demonstration of his healing power, but as an effective protest against making the Sabbath rest of religion a veritable bondage of meaningless restrictions upon all mankind. This man returned to his work as a stone mason, proving to be one of those whose healing was followed by a life of thanksgiving and righteousness.

Later, near the end of his ministry, Jesus performs yet another miracle of healing designed to get the attention of his enemies: The healing of the Blind Beggar

But soon after the healing of the man with the withered hand, Jesus heals the paralytic man lowered on a bed into his midst, another example of the Master's sympathetic heart and his reward to this man's great faith and persistence:

While the house was thus thronged with people and entirely surrounded by eager listeners, a man long afflicted with paralysis was carried down from Capernaum on a small couch by his friends. This paralytic had heard that Jesus was about to leave Bethsaida, and having talked with Aaron the stone mason, who had been so recently made whole, he resolved to be carried into Jesus' presence, where he could seek healing. His friends tried to gain entrance to Zebedee's house by both the front and back doors, but too many people were crowded together. But the paralytic refused to accept defeat; he directed his friends to procure ladders by which they ascended to the roof of the room in which Jesus was speaking, and after loosening the tiles, they boldly lowered the sick man on his couch by ropes until the afflicted one rested on the floor immediately in front of the Master. When Jesus saw what they had done, he ceased speaking, while those who were with him in the room marveled at the perseverance of the sick man and his friends. Said the paralytic: "Master, I would not disturb your teaching, but I am determined to be made whole. I am not like those who received healing and immediately forgot your teaching. I would be made whole that I might serve in the kingdom of heaven." Now, notwithstanding that this man's affliction had been brought upon him by his own misspent life, Jesus, seeing his faith, said to the paralytic: "Son, fear not; your sins are forgiven. Your faith shall save you."

Unconscious faith-healings by Jesus: "Life has gone forth from me."

In subsequent commentary by the authors of The Urantia Book, we learn many more very interesting things about Jesus' powers and the associated healings that were becoming increasingly common:

There began to appear about the time of this mission—and continued throughout the remainder of Jesus' life on earth—a peculiar and unexplained series of healing phenomena. In the course of this three months' tour more than one hundred men, women, and children from Judea, Idumea, Galilee, Syria, Tyre, and Sidon, and from beyond the Jordan were beneficiaries of this unconscious healing by Jesus and, returning to their homes, added to the enlargement of Jesus' fame. And they did this notwithstanding that Jesus would, every time he observed one of these cases of spontaneous healing, directly charge the beneficiary to "tell no man."

It was never revealed to us just what occurred in these cases of spontaneous or unconscious healing. The Master never explained to his apostles how these healings were effected, other than that on several occasions he merely said, "I perceive that power has gone forth from me." On one occasion he remarked when touched by an ailing child, "I perceive that life has gone forth from me."

In the absence of direct word from the Master regarding the nature of these cases of spontaneous healing, it would be presuming on our part to undertake to explain how they were accomplished, but it will be permissible to record our opinion of all such healing phenomena. We believe that many of these apparent miracles of healing, as they occurred in the course of Jesus' earth ministry, were the result of the coexistence of the following three powerful, potent, and associated influences:

1. The presence of strong, dominant, and living faith in the heart of the human being who persistently sought healing, together with the fact that such healing was desired for its spiritual benefits rather than for purely physical restoration.

2. The existence, concomitant with such human faith, of the great sympathy and compassion of the incarnated and mercy-dominated Creator Son of God, who actually possessed in his person almost unlimited and timeless creative healing powers and prerogatives.

3. Along with the faith of the creature and the life of the Creator it should also be noted that this God-man was the personified expression of the Father's will. If, in the contact of the human need and the divine power to meet it, the Father did not will otherwise, the two became one, and the healing occurred unconsciously to the human Jesus but was immediately recognized by his divine nature. The explanation, then, of many of these cases of healing must be found in a great law which has long been known to us, namely, What the Creator Son desires and the eternal Father wills IS.

It is, then, our opinion that, in the personal presence of Jesus, certain forms of profound human faith were literally and truly compelling in the manifestation of healing by certain creative forces and personalities of the universe who were at that time so intimately associated with the Son of Man. It therefore becomes a fact of record that Jesus did frequently suffer men to heal themselves in his presence by their powerful, personal faith.

Many others sought healing for wholly selfish purposes. A rich widow of Tyre, with her retinue, came seeking to be healed of her infirmities, which were many; and as she followed Jesus about through Galilee, she continued to offer more and more money, as if the power of God were something to be purchased by the highest bidder. But never would she become interested in the gospel of the kingdom; it was only the cure of her physical ailments that she sought.

But lest we end up thinking of Jesus as primarily a healer, his mission was one of teaching and spiritual upliftment; and it was for these reason, among others, that he came:

While, at that particular time, the fame of Jesus rested chiefly upon his reputation as a healer, it does not follow that it continued so to rest. As time passed, more and more he was sought for spiritual help. But it was the physical cures that made the most direct and immediate appeal to the common people. Jesus was increasingly sought by the victims of moral enslavement and mental harassments, and he invariably taught them the way of deliverance. Fathers sought his advice regarding the management of their sons, and mothers came for help in the guidance of their daughters. Those who sat in darkness came to him, and he revealed to them the light of life. His ear was ever open to the sorrows of mankind, and he always helped those who sought his ministry.

When the Creator himself was on earth, incarnated in the likeness of mortal flesh, it was inevitable that some extraordinary things should happen. But you should never approach Jesus through these so-called miraculous occurrences. Learn to approach the miracle through Jesus, but do not make the mistake of approaching Jesus through the miracle. And this admonition is warranted, notwithstanding that Jesus of Nazareth is the only founder of a religion who performed supermaterial acts on earth.

Faith-healings: "Someone touched me."

152:0.2 Jesus suddenly stopped, exclaiming, "Someone touched me." And when those who were near him denied that they had touched him, Peter spoke up: "Master, you can see that this crowd presses you, threatening to crush us, and yet you say `someone has touched me.' What do you mean?" Then Jesus said: "I asked who touched me, for I perceived that living energy had gone forth from me. As Jesus looked about him, his eyes fell upon a near-by woman, who, coming forward, knelt at his feet and said: "For years I have been afflicted with a scourging hemorrhage. I have suffered many things from many physicians; I have spent all my substance, but none could cure me. Then I heard of you, and I thought if I may but touch the hem of his garment, I shall certainly be made whole. And so I pressed forward with the crowd as it moved along until, standing near you, Master, I touched the border of your garment, and I was made whole; I know that I have been healed of my affliction."

152:0.3 When Jesus heard this, he took the woman by the hand and, lifting her up, said: "Daughter, your faith has made you whole; go in peace." It was her faith and not her touch that made her whole. And this case is a good illustration of many apparently miraculous cures which attended upon Jesus' earth career, but which he in no sense consciously willed. The passing of time demonstrated that this woman was really cured of her malady. Her faith was of the sort that laid direct hold upon the creative power resident in the Master's person. With the faith she had, it was only necessary to approach the Master's person. It was not at all necessary to touch his garment; that was merely the superstitious part of her belief. Jesus called this woman, Veronica of Caesarea-Philippi, into his presence to correct two errors which might have lingered in her mind, or which might have persisted in the minds of those who witnessed this healing: He did not want Veronica to go away thinking that her fear in attempting to steal her cure had been honored, or that her superstition in associating the touch of his garment with her healing had been effective. He desired all to know that it was her pure and living faith that had wrought the cure.

This is then followed by the raising of Jairus' daughter, after which we read this:

152:1.4 Jesus' apostles, let alone the common people, could not understand the nature and attributes of this God-man. Neither has any subsequent generation been able to evaluate what took place on earth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. And there can never occur an opportunity for either science or religion to check up on these remarkable events for the simple reason that such an extraordinary situation can never again occur, either on this world or on any other world in Nebadon. Never again, on any world in this entire universe, will a being appear in the likeness of mortal flesh, at the same time embodying all the attributes of creative energy combined with spiritual endowments which transcend time and most other material limitations.

152:1.5 Never before Jesus was on earth, nor since, has it been possible so directly and graphically to secure the results attendant upon the strong and living faith of mortal men and women. To repeat these phenomena, we would have to go into the immediate presence of Michael, the Creator, and find him as he was in those days—the Son of Man. Likewise, today, while his absence prevents such material manifestations, you should refrain from placing any sort of limitation on the possible exhibition of his spiritual power. Though the Master is absent as a material being, he is present as a spiritual influence in the hearts of men. By going away from the world, Jesus made it possible for his spirit to live alongside that of his Father which indwells the minds of all mankind.

Finally...the story of Amos -"The Kheresa Lunatic," and the herd of swine

Jesus was indeed a great healer and his miracles are recounted in both context and detail in The Urantia Book. But not all of the so-called miraculous healings were what they seem as recounted in the Bible. For example, the story of the man supposedly healed of demonic possession in the article above is one that has long been misunderstood; in The Urantia Book - as is usual - we get the story as it really happened.

Jesus, looking down upon the man crouching like an animal at his feet, reached down and, taking him by the hand, stood him up and said to him: "Amos, you are not possessed of a devil; you have already heard the good news that you are a son of God. I command you to come out of this spell." And when Amos heard Jesus speak these words, there occurred such a transformation in his intellect that he was immediately restored to his right mind and the normal control of his emotions. By this time a considerable crowd had assembled from the near-by village, and these people, augmented by the swine herders from the highland above them, were astonished to see the lunatic sitting with Jesus and his followers, in possession of his right mind and freely conversing with them.

As the swine herders rushed into the village to spread the news of the taming of the lunatic, the dogs charged upon a small and untended herd of about thirty swine and drove most of them over a precipice into the sea. And it was this incidental occurrence, in connection with the presence of Jesus and the supposed miraculous curing of the lunatic, that gave origin to the legend that Jesus had cured Amos by casting a legion of devils out of him, and that these devils had entered into the herd of swine, causing them forthwith to rush headlong to their destruction in the sea below. Before the day was over, this episode was published abroad by the swine tenders, and the whole village believed it. Amos most certainly believed this story; he saw the swine tumbling over the brow of the hill shortly after his troubled mind had quieted down, and he always believed that they carried with them the very evil spirits which had so long tormented and afflicted him. And this had a good deal to do with the permanency of his cure. It is equally true that all of Jesus' apostles (save Thomas) believed that the episode of the swine was directly connected with the cure of Amos.

As they were about to depart, Amos besought Jesus to permit him to go back with them, but the Master would not consent. Said Jesus to Amos: "Forget not that you are a son of God. Return to your own people and show them what great things God has done for you." And Amos went about publishing that Jesus had cast a legion of devils out of his troubled soul, and that these evil spirits had entered into a herd of swine, driving them to quick destruction. And he did not stop until he had gone into all the cities of the Decapolis, declaring what great things Jesus had done for him.

And there were other cases of healing as Jesus continued his public ministry, culminating with probably the greatest miracle of all: raising Lazarus from the dead.

Please see our pages about all the miracles (plus amazing events) of Jesus HERE

And also, this page that recounts some of the non-miraculous cures that have always been erroneously assumed to be miracles, but weren't.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading and learning more about Jesus and his miracles of healing. Personally, I find that the sane and reasonable narration of the Life and Teachings of Jesus in The Urantia Book helps me to understand better the purposes of Jesus, and the wealth of additional information with context, detail, and commentary put the Master's miraculous doings in a perspective that leaves me in awe. I hope that you agree!

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Sun, November 04, 2018

Can we think outside the Bible?

By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders The Bible, Christianity, The Urantia Book, Jesus, God, heresy, Jeremy Weber, spiritual evolution

Our Christian readers may find this article an interesting read: Christian, What Do You Believe? Probably a Heresy About Jesus, Says Survey by Jeremy Weber. I hope not too many are intimidated by the word "heresy." To me - a devoted Urantia Book reader/student - these survey results indicate a healthy amount of skepticism about traditional views of Jesus and of the church that bears his name. While I agree that the world desperately needs "the light of the gospel," it is the substance of the gospel taught by the Christian church that may be a factor in driving more and more people to question its real truth content. This is one subject that I will blog further below, using Urantia Book teachings. In the meantime, the survey contained in this article may be of great interest to many. Here are some snips:

"American evangelicals are "deeply confused" about some core doctrines of the Christian faith—and the fourth-century heretic Arius would be pleased, according to a new survey.

"Evangelicals were defined as people who strongly agreed with the following four statements:

"The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
"It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
"Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
"Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation."

"The State of Theology survey highlights the urgent need for courageous ministry that faithfully teaches the historic Christian faith," stated Chris Larson, president and CEO of Ligonier Ministries. "It's never been popular to talk about mankind's sinfulness or the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ. But at a time when a darkened world needs the light of the gospel, it's disheartening to see many within the evangelical church confused about what the Bible teaches."

Click to read more

Let's talk about the gospel

The Christian gospel as it stands today exhorts the seeker to believe three main tenets:

that s/he is born in sin;

that the only way to escape God's wrath and punishment for that inborn sin is for an innocent sacrifice - Jesus - to be offered up to an angry God as an appeasement;

and that belief in Jesus is the only road to salvation.

Each one of these elements contains something that may be becoming increasingly difficult to take for the average truthseeker, in my view. There is a good reason these tenets are not popular! Who wants to believe that they are a born sinner, innately flawed? Who wants to love an angry or vengeful God who finds justice in killing an innocent child for the sin of another? And why doesn't God honor everyone's desire for salvation - not just those who know Jesus? Even in Jesus' life, he never pointed to himself as the means for salvation - only to God the Father. And this last tenet begs the question: what has become of all those souls who were born and who have died before Jesus came to our world? Or who have died without knowing Jesus? Out of luck?

In the life and teachings of Jesus (Part IV of The Urantia Book), we find a far different - and far simpler - gospel; the gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached and taught and lived. That simple and all-inclusive gospel asks the seeker to believe that:

God is our Father;

we are all his children and members of the same family;

and faith alone is our passport to salvation.

Put simply, the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Simple faith in, and acceptance of, one's sonship with God opens wide the doors to the Kingdom to any willing to enter.

The survey cited in the article above is fixated on doctrine - on tradition - on Biblical interpretations - going so far as to accuse even practicing Christians that they are heretics because their spiritual beliefs may have evolved in a different direction than that which is currently "acceptable" according to those doctrines, traditions, and the iron-clad inerrancy of Scripture.

The Urantia Book teaches us that evolution encompasses far more than just physical reality; evolution is also an important factor in the growth of religion, too. As time goes on; as mankind begins to see the world and its circumstances change; as each individual begins to seek their own connections with God; it is inevitable that the crystalized doctrines of traditional religion may not work for him/her. Just as in Jesus' day, the rules of the chruch can be an actual hindrance to one's spiritual progress; it was for this that he came, to deliver his children from stultifying tradition.

This adherence to doctrinal belief and the expectation that God's children will always need to follow it blindly and to the letter is another reason that I suspect people are moving away from traditional Christianity. In the person of Jesus - even in the Christian churches - people see a God/man of love, of tolerance, of forgiveness, of inclusiveness. Nevertheless, these attitudes do not always carry over into church practices.

See Urantia Book teachings on Tradition

Jesus lived the truth of God

In both the Bible and in The Urantia Book Jesus said: "He who has seen me has seen the Father." And I think we can take that statement literally. Jesus did not equivocate.

In The Urantia Book, readers know that in the person of Jesus and his incarnation on our world we see the revelation of the heavenly Father himself, which then makes all of these lovable traits of the Master all the more understandable, especially when we know the book's startling and monumental revelation of God in Part I. We never see Jesus being mean, seeking revenge, being unkind or threatening to those who follow and love him. We breathe a sigh of relief at his comforting message that mankind is not "inherently sinful."

In Jesus we see a Son of God who forgives even those who bring about his death. He does not condemn - a real change from the wrathful God who demands sacrifice. Jesus never did that. And if Jesus never did that, we can believe and rejoice that God would not do that, either. Remember: "He who has seen me has seen the Father."

In Part I of The Urantia Book, we discover God the Father as a person; a person who knows and who can be known by his children - a Father whose nature is only love - a Father whose desire is that none should perish. We discover God's power, his infinity, his primacy - but we also find his very comprehensible traits of mercy, goodness, and beauty. We learn of his desire to fellowship each one of his children through his indwelling the minds of all, living and creating along with them throughout life. How different from the wrathful God of the Bible, demanding sacrifice of an innocent! Jesus portrayed a very different Deity from that one!

And speaking of the Bible...

To many Christians, Bible inerrancy is a given. Again, this opens the door to confusion for the sincere truthseeker. In one part of the Bible, we see an angry God smiting whole races of people for various infractions of the rules while in another part, we see a much kinder God in the beauty of the Psalms or in the wisdom of the Proverbs - and in the Gospels of Jesus.

And aside from those confusing issues, we see a story of Creation that is so simplistic in its elements - and so out of touch with the facts of science - that it can't reasonably be seen as anything more than a fable. And embedded in this simplistic fable are the seeds of "original sin" that have condemned mankind for far too long.

How can one reasonably believe things that go against reason - or adhere to a supposedly inerrant document that contains such significant inconsistencies? When we know better, we do better. Science is not our enemy, but our ally in sifting fable from truth. The revelations of The Urantia Book inform our understanding of God's creation while corroborating and validating scientific discovery.

While liberally citing the best and highest teachings of the Bible, The Urantia Book also provides information ABOUT the Bible. Its teachings give us a reasonable context with which to evaluate the Scriptures, and help believers to form opinions based on that information. The Urantia Book does what Jesus did: in his incarnation, he too, used the cream of Scripture, but he also informed us about the truth of Scripture, as in this "Talk with Nathaniel." It shocked Nathaniel; maybe it will shock you, too; nevertheless, it has the unmistakable ring of truth that can be fully appreciated even today in our 21st century world.

The Urantia Book - and the teachings of Jesus - offer the believer a new and sure path to follow when seeking the true source of "authority" for one's life. And that authority is the above-mention spirit of God that indwells each person; that "still, small voice" that informs the believer's spiritual life. No more are we in need of ancient, sacred texts, priests, or other intermediaries to stand between us and God. This is what Jesus meant by "spiritual liberty!"

The Spirit of Truth

But that's not all. We mortals have been gifted with Jesus' Spirit of Truth - the "Comforter" that he left with us when he ascended to the Father at Pentecost. In my view, it may be the presence of that Good Spirit that - with every generation - informs and directs the spiritual steps of the seeker and allows each seeker to discover the truth and its progressive nature. In the section called "The Significance of Pentecost," we read about this Spirit; The Urantia Book teaches:

194:2.1 Jesus lived on earth and taught a gospel which redeemed man from the superstition that he was a child of the devil and elevated him to the dignity of a faith son of God. Jesus' message, as he preached it and lived it in his day, was an effective solvent for man's spiritual difficulties in that day of its statement. And now that he has personally left the world, he sends in his place his Spirit of Truth, who is designed to live in man and, for each new generation, to restate the Jesus message so that every new group of mortals to appear upon the face of the earth shall have a new and up-to-date version of the gospel, just such personal enlightenment and group guidance as will prove to be an effective solvent for man's ever-new and varied spiritual difficulties.

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. Next, it is the purpose of this spirit to destroy the believer's feeling of orphanhood. Jesus having been among men, all believers would experience a sense of loneliness had not the Spirit of Truth come to dwell in men's hearts.

194:2.5 The spirit also came to help men recall and understand the words of the Master as well as to illuminate and reinterpret his life on earth.

194:2.6 Next, the Spirit of Truth came to help the believer to witness to the realities of Jesus' teachings and his life as he lived it in the flesh, and as he now again lives it anew and afresh in the individual believer of each passing generation of the spirit-filled sons of God.

194:2.7 Thus it appears that the Spirit of Truth comes really to lead all believers into all truth, into the expanding knowledge of the experience of the living and growing spiritual consciousness of the reality of eternal and ascending sonship with God.

The revelation of The Urantia Book is a valuable resource for any seeker who believes that God still speaks to his children and reveals himself to them; a valuable resource to re-discover the life and teachings of Jesus; a valuable resource to discover the nature of true religion and the reality of endless life.

Finding God through experience

And so, to see a survey that witnesses to the evolution and expansion of religious thought - even among evangelicals - is not all that alarming to me. In fact, it seems a hopeful sign. But then, I have been a student of The Urantia Book for a long time - I have experienced many of its truths first-hand - I have come to know God as never before; I have come to that knowledge of God through the teachings of the book regarding the reality and authority of personal spiritual experience, and the revelation of Jesus' life and teachings in Part IV that demonstrate how Jesus lived just such a God-directed, God-conscious life.

I am fully confident that God continues to speak in his own way to ALL of his children who seek him and who seek the truth. And he does this through his indwelling Spirit, through Jesus' Spirit of Truth, and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, too. These three beneficent spiritual forces work together in the experience of God's children of any era, and it is inevitable that along the way, we shed our outworn ideas and our unprogressive attachment to crystallized doctrines because as we learn more about God we become more comfortable with him. We go always forward, discovering the will of God and living the truths of the gospel of the Kingdom - making the truth living and dynamic.

We learn that it is okay to live lives of originality and freedom before God as we learn to love - not fear - him..

Living truth is always preferable to static or stagnant truth. While the Bible and its teachings comprise part of the "river of knowledge" that we are called to respect and learn from, the time is upon us when we must feel free to discover truths outside of that august document; to step out in faith and find God as a personal experience. God has never stopped speaking to his children; I find it encouraging that more and more are beginning to listen and to hear.

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