Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Metaphysical Healing


REVEREND KURT FONDRIEST

In taking this class I must admit at first it was not what I had expected. I feel it did not encompass what I thought of when I held the idea of metaphysical healing in my mind. I had a challenge with the history aspect, why I’m still working on it. I wished the course would have included the contemporary Metaphysicians in our country’s history. Such as Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy, or Religious Science founder Dr. Ernest Holmes. Just to mention a few. I felt as if I was reading a foreign text at first.

During the course though something did happen. It was being exposed to unfamiliar ideas or rituals. I started to expand on what I was reading , by transforming the information into my culture.As I started to do this daily I found myself understanding this information on a personal level On a level that made sense for me.

Some of the material that transferred with great importance was the understanding of color healing and auras. I work as an expressive arts therapist with people living with various ranges of developmental disabilities. I started to use color healing in sessions with them and had wonderful results. I would develop activities that would heighten their sense of the healing power of color. I would ask them to think of what object comes to mind when they are angry? One person said “Hammer”. I then asked them to think of what color calms them down?. The person whose object was the hammer said “blue”. I then asked them to paint the object with
the color they chose. The group enjoyed this exercise in metaphysical healing, even being very basic it worked. They still ask to do this activity. The course did open me to learning about metaphysical healing through a different culture. I wished though it would had incorporated the works of my culture. I see the course more of a study in culture differences and similarities. I had to find what was universal which made the course beneficial. I read the material and translated it into my language, customs and rituals. In essence I think that is what learning is . A mode of translating at times foreign information into a personal learning experience.. Overall I would give the course above average grade, however I would be more descriptive on the outline Of the course so people understand what they will be participating in.

Reverend Kurt Fondriest

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As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.


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Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Course In Miracles

A Course In Miracles
Sitting down to write this essay was a challenge for me. Then trying to find just one section that stood out was difficult. I found that the whole course stood out. I had heard bits here and there about metaphysics being what I heard called as "New Age" thinking. What I personally found was a course written to a Christian's perspective. I have come to the conclusion that actually any religion can utilize this self-awareness with metaphysics.

I found myself thinking how I was stuck in this somewhat of a rut, like so many of my friends around me. I was raised as a Christian (although both my parents were not), and I stopped going to church. I couldn't see how these people who called themselves Christians would be all holy on Sunday and then the rest of the week, talking behind other peoples backs and back stabbing the people they were all loving to on the previous Sunday. To me that wasn't being a Christian. After reading through this course I am not sure if it is my own fear (ego) that had taken me away or my lack of understanding of what my true purpose was. After reading only a few of these lessons I became aware of some of my unanswered questions. The more I read the more it all started to unravel and make since.

I did have a problem with the meditation. As many times as I sat down to relax - I couldn't. My mind would wander and finally after a whole five minutes, I would have to get up. I just knew there was something I was suppose to be doing. Checking homework, making lunches, helping my husband get prepared for work the next day, the list was always long. I fear this was only conditioning from my parents. There were obligations that I needed to get done to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter, and friend. When I finally stopped long enough to ask myself why I had these feelings of obligations, the only answer was ME. It was for myself and I was worried about what others would think. Then that tied me in with all the other lessons. When I try to do things for myself (ego) it is to gain recognition for my actions.

l the solution I find myself going over is I think it was Lesson 19. When I let go of doing things to please others and get that recognition my ego wants I can truly be able to give to others unconditionally. The great thing about this lesson is that it doesn't only apply to the work environment. I actually can apply it to all aspects in my life.

I believe that this course will be used over and over again during the coming years. If I start questioning myself what a great reference to read over again for some reassurance.

I would like to thank you again for this well written course. I think everyone should take this course, any religion. Just think of all the miracles that could happen.

Rev. Pam Sylvia


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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Metaphysical Healing - ULC

Master of Metaphysical Healing Final Essay
By Rev. Cynthia Ewing

Being a Reiki Healer myself, I am always looking to learn more about healing. This class has helped me be able to present answers to questions people have asked as well as learn more about the energy field around the body. Good advice was also given about how to work in an energy field. There was even good advice about having your own healing practice.

The first lesson talks about how to answer a client’s questions. This can be a hard thing for a new healer.  Explaining how the process works and if it will help or harm a patient is very important. You want to make sure the client is in the right frame of mind for the healing. Also I always let any potential clients know that I do not diagnose or interfere with a doctor’s treatment. As the lesson says “healing is always “in addition to” and never “instead of” conventional medical care.”

The lessons also spoke about working in the energy field. It explains about the different Bodies surrounding the physical body. I had never heard of Auric Fibers or Auric Plasma. I knew about the other fields though. It also lists very well steps in how to give a metaphysical healing using your hands and the universal energy.

When I give a reiki healing, I always say a prayer to ask for the healing of my client as well as inviting in any helpers. I then link to the client by sending energy in through the crown chakra, the ears for balancing and the shoulders to help send the energy through the body. I believe that the client has given me permission already to enter their energy field. This is where I differ, but it is good to ask anyway.
Now the next step is raking the aura and removing any negativity that is present and then smoothing the aura. I never thought of it as unruffling the auric fibers. After that I then apply reiki energy to whatever area is in need. I scan the chakras with my hands and send energy to the ones that are in need of energy. When finished I seal the client and break the ties that were created. Everything I do here is similar to the healing that is spoken of in the lessons, just using different terms.

Taking a medical history and keeping records of the sessions is also very important. In my medical history form there is a disclaimer to make sure the client knows that the session is meant to help and not diagnose or interfere with a doctor’s treatment. The client’s history can help the healer focus on the areas that need energy the most. It can also help the healer see where the problem is coming from. Now the healer’s intuition is important as blockages and energies that need released are located. With the history the healer can use the information to help the client release their negativity and help them change to a more positive attitude which aides in healing.

Overall I enjoyed taking this class. There is a lot of information here which is very helpful for the new healer as well as for the more seasoned healer. I would recommend this class to anyone interested in metaphysical healing. Thank you for the opportunity to learn.



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Monday, October 25, 2010

Biblical Egyptology

Dr. of Biblical Egyptology
New Discoveries Lead to New Theories
Rev. Margie B


This essay is devoted to Sir Laurence Gardner (17 May 1943 – 12 August 2010)


My final essay will further explore lesson 16 in staying current with new discoveries.

My approach to writing an essay about this course will be a little different than most students. I believe that truth is stranger than fiction; and religious history, for me, is best approached like putting the pieces of a puzzle back together - the pieces being fragments of knowledge lost and found. These pieces are a mixture of conjecture and truth. To put the puzzle back together is to find a picture that shows that there is truth in myth, and unexpected wisdom in what is often viewed as mere quaint Biblical stories.

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Adam's apple is so named because a piece of the biblical forbidden fruit is supposed to have stuck in his throat… Perhaps this is why the Forbidden Truth so often appears 'chewed up', transformed into metaphor, humour, satire, slang (or dream and myth, of course). -- Thomas Szasz

Staying current with new discoveries and theories requires me to view the story of the Exodus and other related texts in abstract fragments that correspond to certain historical events and scientific phenomena. The purpose of this essay is not to prove any holy book OR academic volume as "wrong," but to explore the provocative possibilities of how Moses can be placed into context of both conventional knowledge of history and unconventional theory. Within this essay is contained both independent scholarship and theory based upon it; which should not be confused with undeniable fact or even religious "truth."

This is also how I approach comparing religions of closely related cultures searching for deeper spiritual concepts - notably for this essay, the ancient near east Hurrians, the Mediterranean Cretans, and the north African Egyptians and how they relate to who the ancient Hebrews might have been.


Triangulating the Origins of the Hebrews


The Bible, and the culture of the ancient Hebrews, appears to be influenced from several major near East cultures of the time. One can cross reference several stories from the Old Testament with Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and even ancient Greek beliefs. How did the Bible come to contain several different stories obviously influenced from several different cultures? I think the answer is in the Hyksos - an ethnic group that has a long history of getting around the world of the ancient near east.

I believe that before the Bible was written, the Hebrews were a part of the Hyksos, a widespread and loosely related ethnic culture; often at odds not only with the larger cultures they dwelt among but also at odds with their kin as well. It's my opinion that to view any ancient ethnic group as a static, cohesive whole with no miscommunication or disagreement among the people is a naive and simplistic way to stereotype cultures we don't understand. Especially ethnic cultures like the Hebrews who were nomadic, loosely related groups that are influenced by the larger cultures around them. I believe that the battles written about in the Bible are cultural wars meant to bring the variances of their people together under one way of life and one religion.

The Hyksos are known in Egypt as the "foreign rulers;" appeared in the Eleventh dynasty of Egypt, were called the "Shepherd Kings" and were of non-Egyptian origin. There are many theories about their ethnic identity, the most convincing to me is that they were the ancient Levantines who would eventually come to be known in history as the Hebrews. The Hyksos had Canaanite names, as seen in those which contain the names of Semitic deities such as Anath or Ba'al. They introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the composite bow and the horse-drawn chariot. The people are shown wearing the cloaks of many colors associated with the mercenary Mitanni bowmen and cavalry (ha ibrw) of Northern Canaan, Aram, Kadesh, Sidon and Tyre. The Hyksos Fifteenth Dynasty rulers established their capital and seat of government at Memphis and their summer residence at Avaris. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/hyksos)

The Hyksos, even after being expelled by Ahmose I, continued to play a strong role in Egypt long after their departure. This is evidenced by Ramesses I having hereditary states in the vicinity of Avaris; as well as Ramesses II who during his reign wholly lacked the anti-Hyksos invectives. Other notable evidence includes moving his capital city back to Avaris and re-named it after himself as Pi Ramesses; promotion of Asiatics to positions of prominence within the civil administration; celebrated the 400th anniversary of the worship of Sutekh (Set, the patron god of the Hyksos) in honor of his father Seti I; and even adopting a Semitic name for one of his favorite daughters Bintanath (meaning daughter of the goddess Anath).

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Jacobivici suggests that the Hebrews and the Hyksos were one and the same, a thesis he supports with Egyptian style signet rings uncovered in the Hyksos capital of Avaris that read "Yakov/Yakub" similar to the Hebrew name of the Biblical patriarch Jacob (Ya'acov). -- Exodus Decoded

The Greeks would eventually identify the Hyksos within their own mythology of the expulsion of Belus (Baal, the major Cannanite god) and the daughters of Danaus (or Tribe of Danaus - or Biblically, the Tribe of Dan). This is only the beginning of the Hyksos connection with ancient Greeks. Danaus (represented as Hyksos) had a twin brother named Aegyptus (represented as Egypt); and when Aegyptus demanded that his sons marry Danaus' fifty daughters, Danaus built the first ship that ever was and fled to Argos. Danaus is descended from Io, who was turned into a heifer and pursued by Hera until she found asylum in Egypt.

Argos was ruled by King Pelasgus, which is an eponym for the indigenous inhabitants of Greece (perhaps Eteocretans?). Through careful reading we find that this is a political story that suggests that the Pelasgian kingship in Argos was overcome by seafarers out of Egypt whose leaders then intermarried with the local dynasty. We can compare this with the enigmatic Sea Peoples who brought about the collapse of several empires - the Hittite, Mitanni, and the Myceneans.

I feel that the ship Argo is connected to this story, even though the legend of Jason and the Argonauts says the ship was named after it's maker, Argus. Jason and the Argonauts also sailed to Minoan Crete, where the ship was attacked by Talon - a giant bronze golem-like entity (robot? More on ancient technology later) that could only be taken down by pulling a pin out of his leg and draining the oil. This is only one of many examples of technology the Minoans had, especially in context that the tale of Atlantis applies to Minoan Crete; and relates to popular theories that the eruption at Santorini could explain not only the story of Atlantis, but the story of the Exodus as well.

There is no mistake that there is a strong connection between Minoan Crete, Egypt, and the Hyksos. The Phaistos Disk bears strong resemblance to the Egyptian game Mehen, these games were a symbolic journey through the underworld. Cretan hieroglyphics can be compared to Egyptian religious symbolism. Minoan bull leaping paintings have been found in Avaris, the Hyksos capital during their occupation of Egypt. Phillip Coopens (http://www.philipcoppens.com/crete_dead.html) proposes that Minoan Crete was the Egyptian Island of the Dead.

Phillip Coppens contributes;

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"In Knossos, an alabaster lid with the name of the Hyksos king Khyan has been found." And "During the Middle Kingdom (1500 BC), the dead in Egypt were buried in valleys – the same practice was adhered to in Crete, with one of the more famous Valley of the Dead behind the Palace of Kato Zakros. Namewise, Zakros is similar to Saqqara and Sokar, an important necropolis and god of the dead in ancient Egypt. Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians argued that the dead went to live on an island in the West. Crete is an island in the west. Furthermore, the concentration of Minoan civilisation is in Eastern Crete – the part closest to Egypt."


The bull is a sacred animal in both Minoan Crete and Egypt. There may even be evidence in the Bible of references to bull leaping: (http://www.lectio.unibe.ch/04_2/PDF/guillaume_blockman.pdf).

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"By my God, I bull leap (Psalm 18:30 // 2 Samuel 22:30).

In comparison to the Stiersprungszenen of the √Ągais, Syria, Anatolia and Egypt the word rw * would have to be translated in the psalm 18.30 as well as in 2Samuel 20.30 not with "wall" simply separate with "bull". This also counts to all the other passages in the Bible in which the word rw * seems like in genesis 49:22; psalm 92:12. Psalm 18 should be counted unambiguously to the Stiersprungszenen.

Psalm 18:30 and its parallel in 2 Samuel 22:30 are considered obscure and exegetes have performed acrobatics over them. The general trend is to put the two parts of the verse in synonymous parallel and change dwdg into rwdg "wall" in light of rw# "wall" at the end of the verse."


Also in the Bible are strong parallels between the god of Abraham and Zeus. Not only did the ancient Levantines worship a god named Baal, Baal was also represented as a bull. The Greeks used Baal and Bel as interchangeable (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bel_%28mythology%29), and referred to Zeus as Zeus Belos, or Jupiter Belus (Latinized). The connection becomes clearer when Eusebius of Caesarea (Praeparatio Evangelica 9.18) cites Artabanus as stating in his Jewish History that Artabanus found in anonymous works that giants who had been dwelling in Babylonia were destroyed by the gods for impiety (reference to the Flood of Noah), but one of them named Belus escaped and settled in Babylon and lived in the tower which he built and named the Tower of Belus (reference to the Tower of Babel).

Greek Zeus was born on Crete, and was fed milk and honey by Melissa. This could very well be the origin of the reference to the promised land "flowing with milk and honey." The god of Abraham punished the world with a flood for the sin of cannibalism, assumed to have happened after angels lay with human women and created giants who resorted to eating humans after the food supply ran out. Zeus becomes very angry with men and decides to destroy them as revenge for their impieties (Tripp 608). His intention is to destroy all of mankind. However, Prometheus, who tells his son, Deucalion, to build an ark so Deucalion and his wife could escape Zeus wrath, thwarts Zeus attempt. Zeus also shares some parallels with Jesus and Moses, as he was hidden away soon after he was born to escape certain death. The Bible relates a story of how a woman brings death into the world, likewise the Greeks related the story of Pandora, who was also tempted to open the box where from all ills of the world escaped except hope. Even the creation myths of the Bible and the Greeks begin with a void.

And lastly, there's the ancient relic of the Ark of the Covenant that resembles the Minoan Tripartate Shrines.


Ancient Technology


The subject of ancient technology alone is controversial; add a well known and well liked religious figure like Moses and the complications only multiply. When most people think of ancient technology; they think of the wheel, plough, or the sword. These are fine examples of how humanity has developed the ability to make tools; however, the examples I think of are a lot more sophisticated and contain greater possibility to reconsider our knowledge of the quality of life in the ancient world. Such inventions like the Anikythera mechanism, used for astrological purposes; and the Baghdad Battery, used for electroplating are hard evidence that ancient people were not without the ability and capability to create the technology we have today.

There are other examples of technology, however, they rely on myth, religious testament, and speculation rather than hard evidence. Such examples include Vimana flying machines, the Dendera light bulbs, and the ancient accounts of disaster that resemble nuclear fallout.

The Bible contains possible examples of ancient technology and possibly even unidentified flying objects. The one form of technology that the Egyptian and the Hebrews had in common was known as "What is it?" in both cultures.

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It is explained by Flavius Josephus in his 1st-century Antiquities of the Jews that the term 'manna' was actually a question, meaning, What is it? - and the book of Exodus confirms this, stating: "They called it manna because they knew not what it was". Laurence Gardner (http://graal.co.uk/whitepowdergold.html)

The Biblical description (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manna#Biblical_description) of manna is that it appeared like dew in the morning six days out of the week. The sixth day the Hebrews were to gather enough to observe the Sabbath. Exodus adds that manna was comparable to hoarfrost in size, similarly had to be collected before it was melted by the heat of the sun, and was white like coriander seed in color. Numbers describes it as having the appearance of bdellium, adding that the Israelites ground it and pounded it into cakes, which were then baked, resulting in something that tasted like cakes baked with oil. Exodus states that raw manna tasted like wafers that had been made with honey.

The etymology of manna could be as simple as meaning food, or even plant lice - the honeydew harvested by aphids that evaporates quickly into a sticky solid that is a good source of carbohydrates.

Manna could even be something as simple as algae. George Sassoon, in the book "The Manna Machine," presents Othiq Yomin in the Zohar not merely as a visage of the god of Abraham known as the Ancient of Days, but as a machine that produced algae the Hebrews could have survived on while wandering in the wilderness. Algae may seem like a primitive solution to a fulfill base necessity of food, but scientists today are rediscovering it as an integral part of sustainable environmental technology. Trapping carbon dioxide and using it to grow algae not only helps the atmosphere, but can be refined to make biodegradable plastic, ethanol fuel for cars, and feed for farm animals.

But the question remains - "What is it?" And it is this question that places it in both Egypt and Moses. Is there a simple explanation or is manna something more? A part of technology that we haven't been able to unlock until the twenty first century?

David Hudson (http://www.asc-alchemy.com/hudson.html), while doing an analysis of natural resources in the area where he was farming, would come to be known as the re-discoverer of white powder gold, known to the Mesopotamians as 'shem-an-na' (highward fire-stone), the Egyptians as Mfkzt and shewbread, the Hebrews as Manna, and the alchemists as the Philosopher's stone.

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"I am purified of all imperfections. What is it? I ascend like the golden hawk of Horus. What is it? I pass by the immortals without dying. What is it? I come before my father in Heaven. What is it?" - Papyrus of Ani

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"Our Stone is nothing but gold digested to the highest degree of purity and subtle fixation. It is called a stone by virtue of its fixed nature; it resists the action of fire as successfully as any stone. In species it is gold, more pure than the purest; it is fixed and incombustible like a stone, but its appearance is that of a very fine powder". - Eirenaeus Philalethes, Secrets Revealed


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The uses of ORMEs (orbitally re-arranged mono-atomic elements) reported is varied and miraculous. When it is heated it has anti-gravity affects and appears to disappear and reappear when cooled. When it disappeared, you can try to stir it with a spoon but when it reappears it's like the spoon never touched it. Which means, it went somewhere while it was being heated. The Egyptians believed that the pharaohs, after death, moved on to the Field of Mfkzt, the realm of the blessed. Could this be where the gold "went" to when heated? Is it only a coincidence that the phrase "What is it" also meant "where is it?" in Egyptian hieroglyphs?

The substance was also found to be a natural superconductor with no magnetic field, repelling both magnetic poles, while having the ability to levitate and store any amount of light and energy within itself. Because gravity determines space and time, it was concluded by Hal Puthoff that any substance that any material that were capable of bending space and time be classified as "exotic matter." Miguel Alcubierre Moya confirms this exotic matter could be used to travel beyond the speed of light, and outside of time and space as we know it.

In 1995, the magazine Scientific American published a story called "Electric Genes" reporting that single ruthenium atoms are placed at each end of a short strand of DNA, the strand becomes 10,000 times more conductive; therefore making it a superconductor. Application of platinum metal compounds to DNA relaxes the strands and they correct themselves. Not by killing any cells, but by rebuilding them correctly.

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The magical powder of projection was manufactured by the priestly Master Craftsmen of the temples (the Guardians of the House of Gold) for the express purpose of deifying the kings - and it re-emerges today as the primary new substance in fields ranging from cancer treatment to stealth aircraft. It will also provide the essential 'exotic matter' required for warp drive space travel in hitherto insurmountable dimensions of space-time. - Laurence Gardner

How this relates to certain myths like the Golden Fleece, and religious leaders like Moses is ground breaking to better understanding the technological feats of the ancient world. This reinterprets why Moses fed the golden calf to the Hebrews - obviously you cannot "burn" gold, but you can break it down to monoatomic form and consume it in water just like Exodus describes. He didn't force them to drink out of punishment, he was showing them that gold has a much more divine use than to form and worship idols with it! He was giving them the gift of health and longevity; as well as feeding their "light bodies" like Egyptians did.

Hebrews 9:4 states that the ark of the covenant contained "the golden pot that had manna" and Aaron's rod that had budded with power. If the Ark of the Covenant had a technological use, the most logical would be that it was an electrical conductor. Could Aaron's "rod" be a nuclear fuel rod? Could this explain why the Philistines returned the ark after only seven months, because they became overcome with skin tumors and boils? Could Manetho's account of Osarseph, who changed his name to Moses; and his followers being "lepers" be explained skin lesions from radiation poisoning?

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Moses depicted above, and in various illustrations, show him with horns. This characteristic is associated with radiation exposure. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutaneous_horn)

But where did it come from? Egypt? The Levant? The Bible isn't the only place we can find stories that seem to describe ancient atomic radiation. There are stories and examples that can be found around the world relating to ancient atomic capabilities. (http://www.s8int.com/atomic1.html)


Conclusion


As we move forward into a more advanced, brighter future I feel that new discoveries in science and technology in conjunction with archeology will give us a broader and deeper perspective about Moses. Staying current with new discoveries, both scientific and archaeological will give the lifelong student of Biblical Egyptology the tools they need to form independent new theories about the nature of the cultures that eventually penned their sacred books.

I feel that the study of ancient technology will open a new door of wonder and respect for our collective ancestors. They may not have been the backward thinking primitives many modern people assume them to be. Having faith may not be a great obstacle to scientific and technological advancements after all. Perhaps, faith in the divine is the catalyst of human creation that drives us to become better than we are. And that's the ultimate message of all holy books that exist today.

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Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.

As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.


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Chaplaincy Studies

By Rev. Daniel Scott Irwin

During these twenty weeks in taking this chaplain course, several aspects encountered in being a chaplain have been covered. It would be easy if all one had to do was decide to be a chaplain and just drop into the position. As well meaning as that might be, we find that there is a great deal to learn in reference to performing the duties as chaplain correctly in a manner that proves beneficial in serving both one's community and God.

The following are comments and observations on areas covered in this course:


The chaplain holds a unique position in that the 'chaplain' must be truly universal in dealing with (and provide religious services and guidance for) people of all faith systems without being judgmental of the validity of different religion(s) or various factions/denominations within religion(s).

There is a uniqueness in being a minister...and, in particular, being a chaplain. For those truly engrossed in the service of the Creator, there has been a 'calling', a destiny, a pre-ordainment to serve. Often this is not recognized by the individual for some time, yet, at some point in life, they are made aware of the inevitability of their being chosen by God to do His will.

The chaplain is indeed the 'sheppard' as the chaplain is often called upon in times of crisis. A unique ability to listen and understand must be developed over a lifetime of learning and observation. In many cases, the chaplain just by being there/present gives comfort and reassurance to the troubled.

My first encounter with anyone known as a 'chaplain' was in the military. The military chaplain provides services and consultation for members of all faiths in the military community. Flexibility is the key in operating in such a realm. One must be flexible to meet the needs of people of many different faiths and belief systems. It is imperative that the military chaplain have a certain amount of knowledge in regard to denominations and religions other than his own in order to best serve those in need.

The chaplain in a health care setting is nothing new. Since ancient times, we have had a side-by-side relationship between medicine and ministry. Examples of this can be shamans, druids, Israeli priest practicing medicine, our modern-day 'healers' and hospital, hospice, and nursing home chaplains. For the most part, these chaplains receive special training. Though similar, the hospital, hospice, and nursing home setting have their own unique requirements. The chaplain is there for consultation, hope, grief support, not only for the patients, but for staff, as well. These settings are not to be taken as an opportunity to 'evangelize' but to give hope and comfort to all persons there.

In serving as a chaplain working with police departments, fire departments, and/or prisons, it is necessary for the chaplain to know the boundaries between where the civil authorities are doing their duties and where the chaplain is needed. Within all three areas, the chaplain will be required to render spiritual counseling and comfort to all involved no matter the faith system/religious beliefs of those concerned. Thorough indoctrination and study dealing with suicide prevention is a must.

As more and more of our time is spent at work, at school, and other places, it makes sense that chaplains are becoming a part of the scene. Being present at these locals renders the chaplains readily available for counseling, spiritual guidance and prayer in general.

It is imperative that one, as a chaplain, never forget the key areas of trust, confidentiality, and compassion in dealing with others. Trust is usually earned through time and effort, but only if one is proven trustworthy. Confidentiality is a must. The betrayal of confidentiality will surely lead to a loss of trust. Those in the group with which the chaplain works need to see and feel that the chaplain has a sense of compassion for the association to be effective.

A most important aspect, or attribute, of the chaplain (or any minister) is the ability to listen. A sense of confidence and trust must be established between the speaker and the listener, which, in this case, the listener is the chaplain. The chaplain must be attentive, be an active listener, and be able to give proper feedback. It is advised that the chaplain be slow to speak (giving himself or herself to contemplation over what he has been told) and that, when speaking, the chaplain have knowledge about which he speaks.

Touching (as in the physical touch) is a form of socializing which can bring a sense of closeness and caring. The chaplain must be aware of when, and in what manner, touching is considered appropriate, as well as, safe. Some people have a 'healing' touch. In times of distress/stress, a simple touch can be a comfort to those in need.

Grief, as the lesson on same states, is the human emotional response to loss. There are many types of losses and the chaplain's calling in such a case is to help those suffering loss through the grieving process. The chaplain must first confront his own stance, beliefs in encountering grief as his/her attitude towards grief will be reflected in the counseling of the bereaved. One needs to acknowledge the pain in grief but show that the situation is not without hope for the future.

Counseling the troubled is an important aspect of interaction as a chaplain. The counseling session should be held in what the counselor and counselee would consider a safe and comfortable place. Counseling sessions are held in series when at all possible. Initially, the counselor should get to know the counselee and from there move on to addressing the problem and working toward resolution. During these sessions, the counselor should be able to determine if outside help is needed. Motivation, often through prayer, is of key importance.

In performing duties as chaplain, one must maintain a sense of self-awareness of one's limitations, as well as, be alert for negative influences one can encounter, negative influences such as, manipulation by others, contra transference, improper sexual attraction, the desire for money, pride, etc. In areas in which the chaplain is on the proverbial 'unfamiliar ground', it should not be out of the question to refer those ministered to who are having problems to other sources of aid. The chaplain should not only care for others but take care of themselves as well. Compassion fatigue can result from trying to do too much. We are human and have physical limits. When I was working as a medic at a prison, a wise doctor once told me, "Dan, you can't save them all. Just do what you can." Words of truth.

In the many faceted nature of the duties as chaplain, we find that he/she may, and will, be called upon to take part in institutional functions and ceremonies associated with the group/population being served, not only with the opening and closing prayers (and frequently a devotional reading) but in celebration and observance of holidays of all faiths. Within these ceremonies and observances, we find dedications, marriages, memorials, and funerals, as well as, national and local holidays (such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day). All this making it very clear that the chaplain needs to have a very thorough understanding of those for which he/she serves as chaplain.

Worship is the bringing together of God and people. The chaplain, here, is an enabler in bringing about a conducive atmosphere for worship. Considerations must be taken in creating a sacred space for worship, as well as, acquiring sacred objects and symbols and performing rituals pertinent to the faith group to which one is ministering. The created 'sacred space' need not be elaborate, often just the way the chaplain is dressed and the few objects/symbols present are all that is needed.

For/to many people, we see the chaplain as the 'soul friend': the confidant, the counselor, the confessor, the spiritual guide. As the very nature of serving as chaplain lends itself to fleeting/limited contacts, the interaction between the chaplain and others may be brief. That being the case, the chaplain must ensure that they set an example of a righteous believer to better represent themselves as a potential 'soul mate' in leading prayer, giving counsel and comfort, and whatever else is entailed in their position.

One's sense of accountability can very well be based upon one's sense of reliability. As a chaplain, one has the responsibility to be reliable, to be honest and dependable in all matters. This is important in many aspects of accountability: in personal relationships and with one's personal congregation, in professional efforts as mentor and soul friend, in interaction with one's endorsing authority, as well as with the parent institution and other professional institutions. Honest, forthright, and dependable dealings are required in all these matters/interactions as chaplain...and most of all, in reverence and obedience to the boss: God.

I have read somewhere that we are our worse task masters. It is very easy to become overwhelmed when devoted to one's work. As a chaplain/minister one can lose themselves in their efforts to minister to others leading to 'burn out'. One must be concerned with physical health (enough sleep, exercise, proper diet) , allow for personal devotional time, and maintain a flexible schedule. After all, how can you help others if you neglect yourself?

The Boy Scout motto of "Be prepared" does really fit for the chaplain. Often what he/she may need as a chaplain will only be available when brought along. There are 'professional items': business card(s), data book, calendar, notepad, change/ready cash, handkerchief or tissues, watch, ID, Bible (or other relevant religious book), etc. On a personal basis, one needs to bring a smile, maintain good eye contact, listen well, and dress appropriately. A brief case or any other carry case, etc. could be brought along to carry extra items: laptop, hygiene and administrative needs, religious items too bulky to be carried on the person. And, of course, bring yourself with a positive attitude.



Even with all the information already provided in this course, one must remember that there is always room for growth, there are always new things to learn, sometimes old things to learn new. These twenty weeks of lessons have basically focused on you, as chaplain, realizing what your duties and responsibilities are. And, one important responsibility is to learn about the system/institution within which your duties as chaplain are to be performed. I have seen, first hand, the importance of this in my years working within the corrections/prison system of my state. An area, I would like to serve in as a chaplain. One must be aware of how things work/function. I have seen chaplains and lay volunteers come and go, leaving due to their frustration in dealing with a system that they had not taken the time to understand.

I believe this course to be a very good initial guide for chaplain duties. Something new for those new to such service and a refresher/reference for those who have acted as chaplain or who have done similar work. And, I repeat myself in saying again, one must observe, learn from observations, and learn from outside sources. One's established chaplaincy is based upon what you, as the chaplain, bring to it.

What I expected, and received, from this course is a deeper reflection on duties and responsibilities as a chaplain. As a minister, universal in nature and somewhat 'at large' not having or being attached to a 'physical' church, I feel that, in some sense, my day to day dealings with others in relation to every day life, as well as, in strictly 'religious' aspects, is akin to being a chaplain for everyone, as should we all in serving as ministers for God.

********************

Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.

As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.


Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Four Gospels

Rev. Terri M. Zastovnik

I chose to explore The Four Gospels as my first choice in the variety of classes that I will choose from as I pursue the completion of my Doctorate. The material was well presented and the study guide was carefully written to enable the reader a better understanding of the Greek text. As I read each page I found myself often referring back to the NIV in a comparative effort. I spent much time exploring other translations using The Interlineal Bible, The King James Version and several Christian research based websites. I found that the Four Gospels were written with the same information to the reader but with different wording. As an example, I prefer the NIV Student Bible which was given to me over 20 years ago. I have purchased versions of other bibles but am always drawn back to my tattered bible simply because I am better able to understand the meaning of the text. I also decided to explore the different religions and their ideas on the Four Gospels. Most were the same or similar. 

After reading each book of the Four Gospels, I came to the conclusion that although very similar I preferred the writings of Matthew. Matthew tells the story from the time of Jesus birth walking us in detail through his life to the time of his death and resurrection. Although not the first book written in the New Testament, it has been regarded as the most important. Matthew makes his intentions clear from the first sentence as he connects Jesus’ birth with the Old Testament as “the awaited Messiah.”

In the extensive material Matthew provided 5 great sermons of Jesus, each ending with the words, “When Jesus finished saying these things” thus corresponding in a similar way to the divisions found in the Old Testament. To summarize, the five sermons were divided as follows: 

The Sermon on the Mount – Here Jesus uses The Beatitudes as a code of ethics for his disciples and a standard of conduct for believers.
The Missionary Instructions - Here Jesus instructed His 12 disciples to go out to the lost sheep of Israel cleansing and healing them while preaching this message, “The Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
The Parables of the Kingdom – Here Jesus taught His disciples and followers how to testify about Him. He used the parables in a way that they could understand. The parables were meant to keep those who would persecute Him unable to understand what he was revealing.
Church Order – Here he taught the disciples how to have a relationship between one another and how also relate to others. It was here that Jesus explained to His disciples that by living according to the laws of the bible we can have an assurance of Heaven.

The Eschatological Sermon (The end times and Christ’s return) – Here Jesus taught of what will happen in the end times and of the things that will happen when He returns. Jesus warned his followers about the imposters of Christ and how they would try to mislead their beliefs. He also taught of a hope of a future with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven for those who followed Him.
I found that The Gospel of Matthew holds many characteristics; the one I mentioned above as he ended each of the five sermons with “When Jesus finished saying these things, “and three others I found to be interesting.
First, Matthew pays a high regard to the teachings of the Old Testament as a way of filling God’s prophecies. Jesus came not to change the laws but rather to interpret those laws in a way that would bring an understanding of their original purpose.
Second, in studying the gospel I found that this gospel is the only gospel that makes mention of the church. One of the important issues in the early history of the church was the attitude that Christians should take towards the laws that are recorded in the Old Testament. I can put my own personal history in my growth and spiritual walk in perspective with this attitude. As a young girl brought up in the Catholic Church I knew mainly the teachings of the Old Testament. When I received Christ later in my life I was introduced to the New Testament. It was then that I began to understand God’s purpose for my life as I began my walk with Christ.
And third, Matthew places a major emphasis on the teachings of Jesus. As I studied it I saw Jesus teaching people, both through spoken word and by example, as in the parables. It is my personal belief that Matthew wrote this book to show the readers that Jesus taught people how to live their every day life in a wise and Godly way. He showed this by teaching others how to live, think, pray and treat others in the act of love and kindness as Christ loved others.
To summarize the areas in the Gospel of Matthew that made the most impact, I begin with The Sermon on the Mount. I have always found favor in this part of Matthew’s gospel because it has taught me how Jesus wants me to live. In my opinion it is Jesus’ message to others of God’s expectations in regards to how we live.

The profound impact of the Sermon on the Mount for me are “The Beatitudes”, or as translated, “the blessings.” Here Jesus lays out the foundations of the character traits of all Christians. We are all meant to conform to its pattern and rise to its standard. Jesus gave us the Beatitudes (blessings) to manifest all at the same time. It is my strong belief that we cannot be one without the other. Jesus showed us here how we are to live, how our character should be in the sight of God. We achieve these characteristics and learn to live as we are ought as a result of grace. I have studied The Beatitudes many times turning back to them countless times as I take a strong look at my life and how I am living. I ask myself, “Am I living the life that Christ taught me to live?” “Am I at peace with myself?” “Am I truly blessed?” 

We live in a world torn by oppression, hatred, stress and societal demands but I can honestly go to bed each night knowing that I may be in this world but I am not of it. I have a peace that is so wonderful and unexplainable. The Beatitudes are the standards that I daily chose to live by thanks to the awesome and precious grace of God.

My life has been totally affected and changed due impart to the great writings of Matthew through the descriptive teachings, sayings and parables of Jesus Christ. The Beatitudes presented the standards for how we are to live. Jesus laid this foundation for us and then went on to show us how. 

Jesus chose 12 ordinary people who were despised by many. Some were tax collectors, but they all were sinners. They were lost and empty seeking fulfillment. They were just 12 ordinary people like you and I, all who fell short of the grace of God. Through the teachings and sayings of Jesus the disciples listened, learned and followed Him. They became extraordinary people in the sight of God as they chose to live their lives as Christ taught. They brought many to salvation. Their empty lives suddenly became filled with faith, love, joy, peace and hope, abundantly. 

In finality, Jesus has a perfect way for us to live. I do not believe that we are here by accident. God desires a relationship with us. He uniquely designed each of us to be used in the Kingdom of Heaven. Through the teachings of Christ as written in the Good News of Matthew he has brought not only my life but the lives of many under conviction. He called us not only to be separate from the world but to love the world and those that are in it. 

Jesus changed many hardened hearts. He taught life lessons. Our lives are filled with daily life lessons. The Gospel of Matthew is a tool for each of us on how to handle these “life lessons”. With the teachings and sayings of Christ hidden in our hearts and minds we can all live the life that God called us to live according to His word. 

Thank you for affording me the opportunity of taking this seminary course. It has greatly affected my life as it allowed me to take a spiritual inventory of how I live my life daily for Christ.

********************

Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.

As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.


Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spiritual Awareness

Essay on Awareness Course
As I began taking this course, I was not prepared for the insights that would be given to me in
my personal spiritual journey. One of the topics that really helped me on my sacred path is the section regarding the Eighth insight. I discovered through this topic in the course an issue that I struggle with and a need to overcome it in order to help other congregants in my capacity as a spiritual counselor. Through this experience, I was led to begin a step study for co-dependents. Twelve women have joined me on this venture, congregants within my immediate ministerial capacity. We are working through the twelve steps created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous however; we are using the materials created by John Baker’s A Purpose Driven Ministry Resource Guide, a recovery program based on eight principles from the Beatitudes. At this stage, we have worked through the first participant’s guide, which includes the first three steps and I, and these benevolent women have discovered many important spiritual truths in our personal struggles with co-dependency. As a group, we have grown closer to one another and closer to Spirit because of taking this leap forward in our personal growth.

I realized through this part of the course that I was struggling with an addiction to people. This carries into every area of my life and as a minister an area that I must deal with in order to be of greatest service to my fellows. It is another step towards spiritual freedom and liberation for me. As I know the importance of engaging in my own evolution, but have a tendency to put that to the side to help others, which is a selfless quality, a merit in one respect, but one that needs to be in balance and harmony with my spiritual ascension and evolution. 

I further realized that I was having issues in my romantic life because of this problem, issues in my marriage, that I certainly contributed to as a result of being completely addicted to my spouse who struggles with various forms of addiction, though is in recovery. It led me to look into myself and to find answers to the questions of why the bliss of our initial love relationship had turned into turmoil, chaos and conflict and what my part of the conflicts were and most importantly what Spirit could reveal to me in this regard and how I could seek to recover from these patterns. I realized that I dependently so relied upon the energy of my spouse. When he stopped sending that energy in the initial full force that began our love relationship I began to seek to control him and in effect repelled his energy, forced it away and we each somewhat pulled apart from one another thus the oneness we initially shared was crushed.

Thus, resulting in power struggles, and conflicts, many issues, and distance, withdrawal, retreating, arguing, disharmony, among many other forms of overwhelm, stress and burden. He turned to addictive traits and solutions that offered initial promise from his pain but began to quit working and I continued to try to control, manipulate, lecture, teach, and thus creating more distance, withdrawing and pulling back of energy and attention. 

I discovered many truths about addictions from this course. I grew up in an alcoholic family, as my father was a practicing alcoholic in the formative years of my life. When I turned sixteen, he got sober through the assistance of a treatment facility, counseling, alcoholics anonymous and spiritual beliefs and practices. I knew about chemically addictive personalities and traits, and problems. I knew how these affected family members through my association with twelve step programs over the years. What I had not considered was the greater range of addictive issues and so this course lead me to seeking what might be affecting my husband, what issues were causing his addictive and compulsive tendencies and I began to pray about the issues that Spirit revealed to me through my search for higher truth and solutions. 

As I uncovered the truths through the guidance of Spirit, I tried discussing them with my spouse but he was not ready to deal with these issues and was very much in denial. I knew that I could not make him see the Light in the circumstance. However, I also knew as a Minister of Light that I could pray for him regarding these issues. I could ask others to pray for him. Therefore, I did pray that Spirit would reveal these truths to him in such a way that he could no longer be blinded to the truth, in such a way that the revelations would come through Spirit and not me. I prayed that the chains would be broken, the karmic ties, bonds would be severed and cut and in such a way that he was revealed to himself and others, thereby being accountable not to just me, but to others, and to Spirit. This miracle happened, and the way it happened was not by coincidence or happenstance, but was indeed the divine intervention that I prayed for and that others prayed for on our behalf. His behaviors were revealed in such a way, that I could not have created it or thought it up, or plotted, controlled, in anyway, as the Divine has a perfect plan for us all, if we can just be patient and wait on the Divine to act on our behalf. 

I have begun to give him the freedom to recover in his own way and pace, and to accept where he is and who he is in this moment and each moment. This has given me more time and freedom to focus my attention on my own actions, reactions, thoughts, feelings, and to be free from having to try to control things I cannot control anyway. I realized that my struggle for control really kept my spouse from getting the recovery he needed, because I was in Spirit’s way, as I was not allow the synchronicities of the Universe to come into play. 

Today I do not have to get my energy from my spouse, or any other person. I am not focused on the actions of others, I am less sensitive to what others say, and I am more open and receptive to allowing others to get close to me. I have addressed my issues of control and realized that I have control over nothing that another person does and my attempts to control were misguided, and ineffective, and harmful to others and me. My life is no longer on hold; rather I am progressing spiritually at an accelerated rate. I am no longer tired all the time or feeling lifeless and drained, I am full of life, aliveness and energy. I feel like enormous burdens have been lifted from my soul. Thank you so much for this awakening. I have given up my unrealistic expectations of others and myself and this is so freeing to be able to accept others not as I would have them, but the way they are and the beauty is I am able to see their divine perfection rather than character flaws and defects.

I realized my completeness, wholeness, comes from Spirit, not from others. My spouse and I are closer than we have ever been. We are praying together and choosing things that bring us closer and illuminating things that cause us to separate and pull away from one another. We are each developing a deeper sense of self, and of compassion and understanding for one another’s struggles and the pain, we have caused one another through our power struggles and conflicts, and destructive behaviors. We are no longer pulling one another away from our individual evolution but enhancing one another’s spiritual growth and this is a miraculous indescribably wonderful adventure. 

Rather than focusing on physical intimacy, we have begun to focus on inner intimacy, revealing ourselves totally and completely, and talking, sharing our wants, needs, desires and dreams. We understand one another on the inside, developing a deeper sense of one another’s well-being so that we can move upward, and onward forward on our sacred journey together. We are in counseling together working on having a deeper more intimate physical and romantic relationship doing healing work individually and together. He is participating and leading a men’s step study for men struggling with life issues and addictions of broad scales. Through these constructive actions, we are developing a strong spiritual connection, without power struggle, rather accord, having a close relationship, greater than what either of us thought was possible. 

I decided that can live with or without the marriage, but I wanted it, but free from having to fill myself with his energy, and I relinquished control over his actions to Spirit and to his accountability partners, trusting that Spirit will act on both of our behalf leading him and us to our highest, best good. I am choosing to stay centered in my own energy and life. I have had victory over my tendency to control, over my angry outbursts, and manipulation tactics for about three months. I do not have to create crisis, chaos or drama to get what I want, I simply share my feelings honestly and openly with respect and dignity. I am detached from his problems most of the time. 

Thank you so much for the insights and awareness of these issues through this course. It has helped me tremendously in my marriage and my relationships with others in my community, spiritual life. I no longer feel the burden of the problems of others, and am able to allow Spirit to guide my steps and trust that Spirit will help others with their problems as well. Blessings be upon you in the greatest measure.


Love and Light,

Rev. Tracy


********************************************

To ordain yourself with the Universal Life Church, for free, for life, right now, click on the Free Online Ordination link.

Rev. Long created the ULC seminary site to help ministers learn and grow their ministries. The Seminary offers a huge catalog of materials for ministers of the Universal Life Church

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wiccan Studies

Wiccan Studies Essay
I have to say I was a bit hesitant to sign up for this course, but something told me to do so because of the hesitancy and fear of the unknown with in the public for this religion. My mother is third generation to the states from Ireland, where as she and her mother before her and before her were practitioners of the old ways. I can remember going to my great grandmothers kitchen and not understanding why the herbs were hanging or the table in the corner was set a certain way with "pretties" on it and i was not allowed to touch. i remember one time that we went there the "old women" were chanting around that table, and when I wondered in they accepted me in the circle with open arms, i remember my grandmother saying "she's ready, she's curious" and that my friend was the beginning of trying to teach others that being a witch was not taboo.....anyway this course, even though I am a practitioner of the old ways, has rekindled some thing that I have forgot in general, I will take these things and use them in my practice of teaching to where i hope that others can become more comfortable with us that do not necessarily believe in what they believe in.

I thank you for the opportunity to take this class...the teacher was awesome and very knowledgeable.


thanks
Rene

********************

Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.

As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.


Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Four Gospels

Rev. Terri M Zastovnik

I chose to explore The Four Gospels as my first choice in the variety of classes that I will choose from as I pursue the completion of my Doctorate. The material was well presented and the study guide was carefully written to enable the reader a better understanding of the Greek text. As I read each page I found myself often referring back to the NIV in a comparative effort. I spent much time exploring other translations using The Interlineal Bible, The King James Version and several Christian research based websites. I found that the Four Gospels were written with the same information to the reader but with different wording. As an example, I prefer the NIV Student Bible which was given to me over 20 years ago. I have purchased versions of other bibles but am always drawn back to my tattered bible simply because I am better able to understand the meaning of the text. I also decided to explore the different religions and their ideas on the Four Gospels. Most were the same or similar. 

After reading each book of the Four Gospels, I came to the conclusion that although very similar I preferred the writings of Matthew. Matthew tells the story from the time of Jesus birth walking us in detail through his life to the time of his death and resurrection. Although not the first book written in the New Testament, it has been regarded as the most important. Matthew makes his intentions clear from the first sentence as he connects Jesus’ birth with the Old Testament as “the awaited Messiah.”

In the extensive material Matthew provided 5 great sermons of Jesus, each ending with the words, “When Jesus finished saying these things” thus corresponding in a similar way to the divisions found in the Old Testament. To summarize, the five sermons were divided as follows: 

The Sermon on the Mount – Here Jesus uses The Beatitudes as a code of ethics for his disciples and a standard of conduct for believers.

The Missionary Instructions - Here Jesus instructed His 12 disciples to go out to the lost sheep of Israel cleansing and healing them while preaching this message, “The Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
The Parables of the Kingdom – Here Jesus taught His disciples and followers how to testify about Him. He used the parables in a way that they could understand. The parables were meant to keep those who would persecute Him unable to understand what he was revealing.
Church Order – Here he taught the disciples how to have a relationship between one another and how also relate to others. It was here that Jesus explained to His disciples that by living according to the laws of the bible we can have an assurance of Heaven.

The Eschatological Sermon (The end times and Christ’s return) – Here Jesus taught of what will happen in the end times and of the things that will happen when He returns. Jesus warned his followers about the imposters of Christ and how they would try to mislead their beliefs. He also taught of a hope of a future with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven for those who followed Him.

I found that The Gospel of Matthew holds many characteristics; the one I mentioned above as he ended each of the five sermons with “When Jesus finished saying these things, “and three others I found to be interesting.
First, Matthew pays a high regard to the teachings of the Old Testament as a way of filling God’s prophecies. Jesus came not to change the laws but rather to interpret those laws in a way that would bring an understanding of their original purpose. 

Second, in studying the gospel I found that this gospel is the only gospel that makes mention of the church. One of the important issues in the early history of the church was the attitude that Christians should take towards the laws that are recorded in the Old Testament. I can put my own personal history in my growth and spiritual walk in perspective with this attitude. As a young girl brought up in the Catholic Church I knew mainly the teachings of the Old Testament. When I received Christ later in my life I was introduced to the New Testament. It was then that I began to understand God’s purpose for my life as I began my walk with Christ.

And third, Matthew places a major emphasis on the teachings of Jesus. As I studied it I saw Jesus teaching people, both through spoken word and by example, as in the parables. It is my personal belief that Matthew wrote this book to show the readers that Jesus taught people how to live their every day life in a wise and Godly way. He showed this by teaching others how to live, think, pray and treat others in the act of love and kindness as Christ loved others.

To summarize the areas in the Gospel of Matthew that made the most impact, I begin with The Sermon on the Mount. I have always found favor in this part of Matthew’s gospel because it has taught me how Jesus wants me to live. In my opinion it is Jesus’ message to others of God’s expectations in regards to how we live.

The profound impact of the Sermon on the Mount for me are “The Beatitudes”, or as translated, “the blessings.” Here Jesus lays out the foundations of the character traits of all Christians. We are all meant to conform to its pattern and rise to its standard. Jesus gave us the Beatitudes (blessings) to manifest all at the same time. It is my strong belief that we cannot be one without the other. Jesus showed us here how we are to live, how our character should be in the sight of God. We achieve these characteristics and learn to live as we are ought as a result of grace. I have studied The Beatitudes many times turning back to them countless times as I take a strong look at my life and how I am living. I ask myself, “Am I living the life that Christ taught me to live?” “Am I at peace with myself?” “Am I truly blessed?” 
 
We live in a world torn by oppression, hatred, stress and societal demands but I can honestly go to bed each night knowing that I may be in this world but I am not of it. I have a peace that is so wonderful and unexplainable. The Beatitudes are the standards that I daily chose to live by thanks to the awesome and precious grace of God.

My life has been totally affected and changed due impart to the great writings of Matthew through the descriptive teachings, sayings and parables of Jesus Christ. The Beatitudes presented the standards for how we are to live. Jesus laid this foundation for us and then went on to show us how. 

Jesus chose 12 ordinary people who were despised by many. Some were tax collectors, but they all were sinners. They were lost and empty seeking fulfillment. They were just 12 ordinary people like you and I, all who fell short of the grace of God. Through the teachings and sayings of Jesus the disciples listened, learned and followed Him. They became extraordinary people in the sight of God as they chose to live their lives as Christ taught. They brought many to salvation. Their empty lives suddenly became filled with faith, love, joy, peace and hope, abundantly. 

In finality, Jesus has a perfect way for us to live. I do not believe that we are here by accident. God desires a relationship with us. He uniquely designed each of us to be used in the Kingdom of Heaven. Through the teachings of Christ as written in the Good News of Matthew he has brought not only my life but the lives of many under conviction. He called us not only to be separate from the world but to love the world and those that are in it. 

Jesus changed many hardened hearts. He taught life lessons. Our lives are filled with daily life lessons. The Gospel of Matthew is a tool for each of us on how to handle these “life lessons”. With the teachings and sayings of Christ hidden in our hearts and minds we can all live the life that God called us to live according to His word. 

Thank you for affording me the opportunity of taking this seminary course. It has greatly affected my life as it allowed me to take a spiritual inventory of how I live my life daily for Christ.

********************

Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.

As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.


Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Comparative Religion

RE: Final Essay

It is with heartfelt thanks I write this essay with comments regarding my involvement with the ULC Seminary courses, most notably this Comparative Religion Part 1 course. I have just completed discourse #20 and it is with eagerness and anticipation that I continue with current enrollment in other courses as well as looking forward to taking future classes.

I feel that I have gained a great deal of valuable information regarding various religions, practices, origins, their evolutions etc. which will enable me to better reach out to others. I feel I am divinely directed and guided to continue taking such courses as this to strengthen my arsenal of pertinent information on these subjects so I may better relate when exchanging ideas or reaching out to those I console. I feel the information studied within the course will assist me in moving forward with more wisdom and clarity to relate to those of diverse backgrounds.

Much of the content reconfirms my belief that one can perceive the truth within all religions. Divine Light is in many forms, in many religions. Recognizing Light through different holy names and forms; such as Abraham, Solomon, as Zarathusthra, a Moses, as Jesus, as Mohammad, Rasul of God, Bah u llh, Buddha, Brahma, Vishu, Shiva and on… I have a greater understanding towards those who believe in many Gods, and Goddesses, countless spirit beings in the cosmos and within nature. God is all and within all, all are on with God. Or, how God can be perceived by some as and energy force. I understand that most importantly these ideas are all important and integral parts of the whole.

I feel more confident in making right decisions on my own path of discovery that will aid me to inspire others on their chosen paths. The bottom line is that since recorded times people are asking the same question, seeking the same answers, trying to find their truth. The more knowledge I have regarding different schools of thought, the more able I will be to recognize the right words or expressions to use to relate to the need of the individual I minister to. By using their language it is within their ability to better comprehend. Using terms and valuable information given in this course concerning the various religions makes it possible to convey ideas within their scope of understanding at this time of their expression.

The more knowledge of others beliefs the more we rise above the distinctions and differences which divide us. We can discuss this point, exchange ideas and “Make a Difference”. We know Spirit is found in all traditions. Gained insight with the Comparative Religion Course allows us to fine tune our instruments so as to reach those we speak to on their level.

The suggested readings, the websites to explore, and the other activities enhance each discourse. Although there were some I have not yet experienced due to time constraints, I will return to some of these suggestions at a later date. I feel it is a wonderful resource to refer back to that is much appreciated.

As I am taking 2 other ULC courses concurrently while also working as a therapist as well as running my home for a family of 4, in retrospect perhaps should have scheduled things differently to allow more time to digest the information. The course has kept me engaged and involved and I found myself putting other things on “the back burner” so to focus on the discourses instead.

Thank you for compiling such a complete and need I say interesting course. I would appreciate any other information regarding continuing CRC Part 2.

My snail mail contact information follows below. Please acknowledge receipt of this essay and send document to the address as listed.


In The Spirit of Light and Love.

 Denise Ostop-Gliozzi

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