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Palm Sunday Testimony and Praise Report

13 Apr

Testimony and Praise Report

Despite the fact that my stomach was acting up all last night and I got very little sleep I was determined to attend Palm Sunday service. My original plan had been to go into Manhattan but I changed that because with tummy troubles and subway delays I felt I should stick close to home. Even with insomnia and pain something inside me was so excited about today. When I made my right turn down Fulton St. I said Lord guide my feet and show me where to worship today. I briefly stopped at one of the many storefronts Churches lining Fulton Street but the Lord had me keep walking until I arrived at Pleasant Grove Tabernacle. You guys know I’m not much of a church goer but today I was lead to go and I’m glad I did. My late Beloved Aunt Helen Garcia had been on my mind and I think it was her who was prodding me from beyond the veil.

High School Graduation 1977

Aunt Thelma, me & Aunt Helen Garcia

I arrived in time to hear the last part of Sunday School. The congregation is very friendly. At once I felt very comfortable. Like most churches you get a program so you can follow the service but God had other things in mind and I’m very happy that Bishop Albert L. Jamison, Sr. went with the flow. Praise and Worship developed into prayers for healing. Now keep in mind though I’ve lived in Brooklyn over a year, I’ve never been to Pleasant Grove Tabernacle before neither have any of these people seen or met me. Folks were dancing in the Spirit and Bishop Jamison came down from his pulpit and began to pray for various individuals. He prayed for me and one of the Deaconess prayed also. As I said before nobody knew my condition but that sister prayed especially for healing! God Knew! I’ve been fighting not only physical troubles but battling emotional ones. Today was one giant Healing Service. Sisters suffering from cancer, depression and other ailments were ministered to. During the service Bishop had clergy and congregation hold each other by the shoulders and pray. Once again another different Sister came to me and prayed. A dam burst and I cried. A burden was lifted from me. We all also had the opportunity to go up for additional prayer from Bishop and to be anointed with oil. I went. Now that evil spiritual force was banished from my mind. I left church thinking right, acting right and rejoicing.

However my heart goes out to Karyn Washington who committed suicide at age 22 earlier this week. Those of us who are older have a frame of reference, we know that life does get better but of course we all need help. Maybe Karyn was ashamed to say she was depressed. Perhaps the burden myth of the “Strong Black Woman” was too much for her. I know how she feels. I’ve been there. I was young once upon a time but thanks to strong parents, caring Aunts and a solid spiritual base I made it. Please everyone let’s make our Churches, Temples, Mosques, Synagogues, and other places of Worship caring networks where people young and old can run to for help and guidance. Remove the Stigma of depression, panic attacks, anxiety and other mental illnesses. Be somebody who cares. May God rest your soul Karyn Washington.  May all who suffer find sanctuary.

http://blackdoctor.org/442252/karyn-washington-black-suicide/?omcamp=es-bdo-nl&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Black%20Doctor%20Subscribers&utm_campaign=Lifestyle

 

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Escape from the Hotel California

10 Oct

Escape from the Hotel California

The Eagles – Hotel California

http://youtu.be/BjIJGxULpgo

Welcome to the Hotel California, 
Such a lovely place, (Such a lovely place) Such a lovely face
They’re livin’ it up at the Hotel California,
What a nice surprise, (What a nice surprise) Bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
and pink champagne on ice, and she said:
“We are all just prisoners here,
Of our own device”
And in the master’s chambers
They gathered for the feast,
They stabbed it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was running for the door,
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before,
“Relax,” said the night man, “We are programmed to receive,
You can check out anytime you like… but you can never leave”

Island of the Dead Arnold Böcklin  (Swiss, Basel 1827–1901 San Domenico, Italy)

Island of the Dead
Arnold Böcklin (Swiss, Basel 1827–1901 San Domenico, Italy)

Suffering is acknowledged and discussed in Christianity, Buddhism and many other worldwide faiths. Suffering does endow us with wisdom beyond our years. I think suffering brings us a degree of wisdom, understanding and compassion only available to those who have gone through and come out on the other side. But the key words are to come out from the land of suffering and not stay living there. Let’s not take up residence in our own personal “Hotel Californias.”

Look to find Joy in everyday life. That’s why I Love taking photos. I Love writing poetry, stories and commentaries. As many of my friends, family and co-workers I also have a ridiculous sense of humor. I’ve learned to laugh at myself. I love to hear people’s stories. Not to make fun of them but to find the common points in life that we all share, no matter if we are Christian, Native American, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist. We have to find laughter in the midst of our greatest tragedies, triumphs, victories and even our defeats. Our respective faiths do not ignore or make believe suffering does not exist but our belief systems help us to transcend the mutual trials and tribulations of life.

Let’s look at two different scriptures from the Holy Bible that deal with suffering. Let’s also keep in mind that Biblical scriptures also have a historical and social context. While Biblical characters may or may not have been actual living people the dilemmas, emotions, and feelings are very real and very concrete.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

New International Version (NIV)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

We are all a little broken. The cracks & chips cannot always be hidden nor should they be. We wear our scars like Warriors. These are the battle wounds that give us character and grace for living. Suffering can produce clarity of the mind, purity of the soul, and a different perspective on living.  At one time or another have we not all been Fallen Angels looking to be restored to the Kingdom?

 

Psalm 42

New International Version (NIV)

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

 

The people portrayed in the Bible aren’t Super Heroes. They are everyday folks like you and me. If they did not have the foibles and fragilities of the human condition we could not and would not be able to relate on our level. Times change and the modern world has encroached upon our 21st lives but we still possess the same frailties’ and vulnerabilities of soul and spirit as our Biblical ancestors. They are real people with real problems. Sometimes they achieve good solutions sometimes they mess up totally but provide an example for us of what not to do.

I agree with the Buddha’s teachings that becoming too attached to anything, idea or philosophy can lead to suffering. However suffering in and of itself is not a character flaw. In fact some suffering helps to build your character and gives you a greater ability for compassion. That being said there is external suffering which happens through no fault of our own and there is self-imposed suffering caused by bad decisions and errors in judgment.

While watching a TV show about the late writer, author and playwright Tennessee Williams I felt such sorrow that a man with so much talent was derailed from a productive pathway.

He did have plenty of success with such plays as, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and many other famous plays and stories, however he was done in by the effects of a dysfunctional family, depression about his mentally ill sister Rose, and eventually he was done in by drugs and alcohol. The suffering he felt regarding his sister Rose was the sadness and frustration of seeing a beloved sibling encased within the walls of mental illness and being powerless to help her. His internal self-imposed suffering was caused by bad choices regarding substance abuse.

I too am a writer and author but through my Christian faith and Buddhist practice I will avoid the path of destruction that seems to plague many famous, writers, musicians, actors, and artists.

Suffering should invite self-examination of our lives. Are we repeating destructive patterns in our lives? Am I living right? Am I a blessing towards others? Do I negate others feelings or emotions just because they may not be in line with my own experience. In addition to prayer what are some practical hands-on ways I can help my sisters and brothers in need. Am I so fixed into my own suffering that I’m allowing “Wounded Soldiers in the Household of Faith” to fall on the battle ground.

The ultimate question is, “Is it time for us to change course?”

Seeker and Savior

3 Sep

Seeker and Savior

Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha and Jesus the Christ

“When I know the glass goblet is already broken every moment with it becomes precious.”Paraphrased from documentary film The Buddha”

2 Corinthians 4:7 (New King James Version)

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, which the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

Deval Premal

http://youtu.be/o4jx3sukfLM        

Live your life by Spirit

Live your life by Spirit

Siddhārtha Gautama was a seeker on the pathway to self-enlightenment.  He sought to reclaim the peace inside himself when said peace was disturbed when he saw poverty, sickness and evil. Siddhartha left the comforts of his palace, his wife and his newborn baby to seek out spiritual answers to life’s challenges.   Siddhartha Gautama’s journey is a Vision Quest of self-actualization.

Jesus was the fulfillment of the law and the gateway to abundance and eternal life for all people.  Jesus in his mission on Earth was and is the answer.  Both were the sons of Kings but each was on a different mission. Jesus knew his destiny; however Siddhartha had to discover his.

Both men once they started their ministry were interested in the everyday life trials and tribulations of the common people. In the ages when they were called Siddhartha Gautama Buddha and Jesus represented the Heroic Voice and the Noble Quest through the dark enchanted forest. They were Divine Nomads on a Divine Journey. Both sought oneness with the Beloved.

No matter what faith system we follow we are all called to be in the world but not to be part of the world systems. We are here as a light, a beacon of hope, a lighthouse for fellow seekers and travelers.  Many times during our journey the test comes and we wonder where I can be weak and wear my heartbreak on my sleeve.

Holy music is a sanctuary and a type of refuge.  The Sanctuary is freedom from the unrighteous bigots who cannot or will not accept the message of the prophet. Then there is the sanctuary of the suffering and suffering was not hidden from Jesus. Growing up as a simple Carpenter he would have seen and encounter all manner of suffering people.

  • “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
  • “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14)
  • “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
  • Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15)

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha disillusioned by the hollowness and spiritual emptiness found within the safety and splendor of his royal kingdom sought to find the cause for suffering.  Siddhartha Gautama though that by joining with other ascetics or renouncers he would become closer to God or rather receives answers to questions that were troubling his mind. The only accomplishment from this course in life was continually being hungry and thirsty and mostly trying to outdo your fellow ascetics.  The only revelation able to come through this holiness competition was the sin of pride.

Such harsh methods focus only on what and individual is missing, not getting any closer to God but in total concentration of the absence of comfort or pleasure.  The more we try to mortify the flesh the more we see we cannot transcend the body while existing in this earthly realm.  Deprivation as practiced by some ascetics or mystics and prophets is not necessarily the best spiritual path for the average seeker.  Some austerity is necessary so that we are not consumed by the material world but to isolate and deny our very human bodies the daily necessities can open the door wider to a sense of failure or discouragement.  We must try to find balance in our lives.  At one end is the ascetic, at the other end the hedonist/sensualist.  Most of us flow best in the middle ground with occasional visits to the polar ends.  Separated from our source we yearn to return.

As prophets and/or enlightened beings both the Buddha and Jesus had similar universal themes of overcoming temptation, a wilderness experience with the tempter, both mystics emerged triumphant.  Realization that the Kingdom of God is within us enabled these two very different men, who lived in different time periods, from different cultures, in different parts of the world to have similar spiritual revelations which now have millions of adherents worldwide.

Bliss or self-actualization comes with accepting our interconnectedness with the world, yet not being of the world.  Subconsciously we are all craving with a burning desire to become one with the Beloved.  This craving may lead us down several spiritual and secular pathways during our lifetimes before we achieve our own individual enlightenment.  As a Christian I take refuge in the scriptural jewels offered to me within the Biblical scriptures, yet not discounting other belief systems or spiritual pathways.  As I explore many different faiths side by side with my own I find more similarities than differences.  Like my Buddhist sisters and brothers I find sanctuary in the Love of God, the teachings of Jesus, and various pastors, evangelists, or teachers who have a more extensive knowledge of the Bible than me, who can help me increase my understanding of scripture.  With that said as believers in any denomination we must study the scriptures for ourselves rightly dividing the word of truth so we are not carried away with doctrines of false prophets.  Beware those who misuse and misconstrue God’s Divine Word for their own personal profit and gain.

I can truly say the Bible speaks to me.  What does your holy scriptures say to you?  Like many of the faithful I find comfort in rites, rituals, ceremonies and sacraments of my church.  It’s familiar.  It’s comforting.  If suddenly I attended church one Sunday and everything was out of sequence I would definitely be uncomfortable, wonder what was going on and if I was in the right church.  However too much restrictive structure and adherence to doctrine and dogma can inhibit the spiritual growth of the congregation for this reason many people turn to secular and social organizations that offer morals, values and intellectual growth without the mythology.  Churches, social organizations and clubs also satisfy the need for companionship and fellowship.  As human beings we need to belong to a body of people with similar interests, goals and desires.  We desire a place to fit in and be accepted for who we are as individuals.  Churches, social organizations, clubs, guilds and professional organizations offer a type of safe space or sanctuary where we receive positive reinforcement that enables us to cope with the not so positive chapters in our lives.

Traveling other Wisdom Pathways

Recently I attended Hindu church service for followers of Sri Sathya Sai Baba at the Manhattan Center located at 30 East 31st Street in New York City. At first I was hesitant when my girlfriend asked me to accompany her to her service because those old voices of narrow mindedness assailed me causing doubt to creep into my mind as to whether it would be the right thing to do. Also I wondered if it would just be other Indian people and I would be the outsider. Not so, on both accounts. Initially I had only intended to stay five or ten minutes but I was drawn in by the praise and worship music and the words of the guest speaker who had journeyed all the way from India to share wisdom as given by the late Sai Baba. After his presentation there was a ritual very similar to communion in which I shared. I was very glad to have attended this service and look forward to worshipping again with the congregation. My girlfriend did her best to explain what was going on and to share literature with me. As we walked to Penn Station together discussing religion in general and the things of God in particular I felt a peace, calm, and centeredness that I had not felt in a long time.

It is far removed from my Baptist upbringing and Bible teachings but at the same time there are many similarities between Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the teachings of Jesus. After the service my girlfriend presented me with two of the roses that had lain upon the altar, which I duly took home and placed into a vase with water. Several hours later it struck me that one of the redemptive names of Jesus is the “Rose of Sharon”. Wow! My mind immediately went to “The Song of Solomon” the Bible’s romance book. The Song of Solomon explicitly expresses the desire between two lovers but on a deeper level the love of Jesus for his bride, the church.

Hindu, Buddhist, Hebrew, Christian, Sufi Muslim all have their mystical sages who are calling us closer to God. Are you listening?

God is sending other Angels with voices who invite thought amongst the congregation.  Come Let us Reason Together.  No matter how many hungry people fed, naked clothed or lessons trained still our only desire is to become one united with the Beloved.

Beloved Transcended

Divine fragrant Lotus Rose petals fell upon the body of the ascended one and the veil was rent from top to bottom.  We his followers make pilgrimage to the Holy City in remembrance of Him.

Excerpt from the poem “One Whisper of the Beloved” by Rumi

In truth, everyone is a shadow of the Beloved –
Our seeking is His seeking,
Our words are His words.

At times we flow toward the Beloved
like a dancing stream.
At times we are still water
held in His pitcher.
At times we boil in a pot
turning to vapor –
that is the job of the Beloved.

He breathes into my ear
until my soul
takes on His fragrance.
He is the soul of my soul –
How can I escape?
But why would any soul in this world
want to escape from the Beloved?

Donations can also be made via Paypal using my email: deborah.palmer280@gmail.com. Thank you for supporting the ministry and God Bless.

Lamentations of the Righteous

15 Aug

Lamentations of the Righteous

Revelation: I don’t have to be Super Christian! Studying I Kings 19:1-18. I realize it’s okay when we are fearful, tired and just plain overwhelmed. God did not get angry with Elijah when he was going through a rough time. God sent an Angel to feed him and allowed him to get some rest.  Elijah was at the end of his rope and I’m sure he was thinking, “A little help here please.” God answered his needs. God did not berate him. The Lord understood that Elijah was frustrated and afraid.  God met him where was at. In verse 8 “the Lord came again a second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.” God knew Elijah needed several hours of good peaceful sleep and healthy food to tackle what was ahead. He did not send him out on his journey a nervous wreck but gave him time to rest and regroup.

Elijah felt discouragement, Jeremiah is known as the “Weeping Prophet” and the book of Lamentations is attributed to him. Elisha, Isaiah and Daniel all had their detractors. Hosea wed the harlot Gomer who continued to cuckold him throughout their marriage. How his heart must have broken at Gomer’s infidelities. Many are the nights he must have cried not only for himself but also for the young innocent children who suffered due to Gomer’s indiscretions.

Lamentations 1

New International Version (NIV)

How deserted lies the city,
    once so full of people!
How like a widow is she,
    who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces
    has now become a slave.

Bitterly she weeps at night,
    tears are on her cheeks.
Among all her lovers
    there is no one to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her;
    they have become her enemies.

Even though I know this verse of scripture is discussing Israel’s abandonment of God’s laws many times I have felt this pain personally. I don’t for a moment compare myself to the Major or Minor Prophets found in the Bible but their feelings of betrayal and anguish concerning people they love who continuously hurt themselves resonates with me. Yes I experience the personal pain of words thrown at me in anger much like daggers to my heart but the worst feeling is when loved ones turn away from reason and begin a campaign of self-destruction sometimes taking along innocent people with themselves. All Biblical prophets expressed grief at the stubbornness and unwillingness of their people to change.

Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane

Sometimes we just need to get away from it all. Being afraid is not a sin. We are human beings not robots. Even Jesus had to get away to a desert place. Anyone who works in any type of customer service job knows that you can become overwhelmed by the multitudes of people asking questions or with their hands out wanting, pulling at you, pushing you, all trying to get your attention, not even giving you time to catch your breath. Jesus knew what it was like to be on your feet all day long with little time to sit down for a break. It is recorded that Jesus went to a desert place or sometimes up to a mountain so he could sit, think, regain his energy to face the crowds once again.

It’s okay. It really is. With the help of God I can hurdle this storm.

Bebe and Cece Winans

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOkijBvJ5Yw&feature=colike

Jesus was also known as “The Man of Sorrows and the Stone that the Builders rejected.”

What is the shortest verse in the Bible? “Jesus Wept.” Jesus wept not only in the Garden of Gethsemane the sorrow and upcoming pain of the crucifixion but for his people. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kills the prophets, and stones them that are sent unto you; how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen does gather her brood under her wings, and you would not! Luke 13:34

Oh the grief and distress in Jesus heart as he cries for his people. The sadness in his heart as they continued to cling to falsehoods when the truth was before them. How many times do we feel the same sting we castoff by those who are supposed to love us?

Why does God allow us to experience pain, sorrow, rejection and betrayal? Certainly not because he enjoys seeing us hurt or in tears but we suffer because we inhabit an imperfect world. However God is able to bring us through the fire and not let us get burnt. We may get a little singed but the fires of trials and tribulations will not consume us.

Today I’m thankful that I don’t have to be perfect. God still loves me warts & all. He sees my tears, sorrows and emotional pain, but it’s okay. Jesus knows what I’m going thru. God is not going to dump me just because I get nervous or have some other normal human emotion. Rather than keeping my emotions bottled up inside and getting sick I cry out to the Lord. With Jesus I can just be myself. Thank you Jesus for being my understanding friend. Today I experience God’s undying, never ending, unfailing love for me and my loved ones. God’s love has redeemed me from the hand of the enemy and made me Victorious over all my circumstances!

Donations and Freewill offerings can be made directly to my PayPal account deborah.palmer280@gmail.com

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