From: William Gibbons Jr
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2018
To: 'william's email list 2018'
Subject: Independence Day

Greetings to each of you,

I hope you had a wonderful July 4th Independence Day, full of meaning and fun.

With both of my grandfathers being of Irish heritage, I had originally thought of doing a newsletter around St. Patrick's Day. Though that day came and went without my being able to find the time to compose any communication, I have often joked that with this much Irish heritage, you are either still celebrating  St. Patrick's Day, or getting ready for the next one. In light of that, perhaps at the end of this newsletter, I will throw in the shamrock graphic I had picked out. I will also see what might fit in with the theme here from what I had set aside in March. 

Independence Day is the next holiday I like to acknowledge. When I set up the parameters for the non-profit, and even before then, it was not by accident that July 4th was chosen as the renewal date for all memberships. Jesus said the truth will set you free. His truth rests at the core of what I choose to do, who I am trying to be, and at the heart of the practices and philosophies of the Teaching & Sharing Centers organization which grew from my work. Finding freedom in the truth is what I finally decided to write about. Especially what has worked in this 24 year journey of trying to live the truth in Christ, and learning the practical applications of biblical values. 

As mentioned in January, in order to avoid lengthy big file emails in your inbox, and to save me the time necessary to do two separate layouts, first as an email, then as a webpage, I am returning to a previous practice of doing the content as a webpage first. This email is your introduction to the newsletter online. If you want to continue, all you have to do is click . . .

http://www.wsharing.com/WS-NLE-180719-ID.htm#ID2018

God's peace,

william

 

 

Our American Independence Day will have taken place over two weeks ago when you read this. We were up north celebrating Donna's daughter's birthday with her then. She was born on the 4th. On the way home, by way of M66, we passed a church with a sign out front which stated, "Jesus is the true source of freedom." I agree. In addition to it being Dee's birthday, the celebration on July 4th each year is in my top five of meaningful holidays worthy of reflection beyond how we have come to celebrate them in our modern American culture. I once created a desktop background with a list of the top five values/attributes I hold dearest. Freedom was listed second. Only truth stood above it. Yet I fear that real freedom is something that few of us truly live or experience. 

John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I will not get into the details around the passage, but the Jews in Jesus' day did not respond to that any better than most Americans would, who already see themselves as free. He went on to say that committing sin makes one a slave to sin. In our culture, sin is not a popular word. It carries with it a sound of fundamentalism, and being judged by others. I have noticed even many churches shy away from the word sin. I do not like it, or the word sinner. It feels like being put down, rather than being lifted up. The only person who could say either to me, without an emotionally retaliatory reaction on my part, would be Jesus, whom I believe when He calls Himself the Truth. So, I am going to put it another way. Whatever is more important to you in this world than a close personal relationship with your Creator, that is what has taken away your freedom. It is a simple truth. God gave you your free will right from the start. As far as I can tell, from years of reading Scripture, God is all about freedom of choice in every way. Even if your decisions are likely to enslave you, He gave you the right to make them for yourself. But, He also offered, if you would like to avoid the many pitfalls of this world, He would be happy to walk along with you, and offer you His wisdom, as you journey through this introductory life, on your way to a bigger life beyond. That is an amazing freedom. 

"An article in The Washington Post told about a 15-year-old girl who sent and received 6,473 cell phone text messages in a single month. She says about her constant communication with friends, 'I would die without it.' And she is not alone. Researchers say that US teens with cell phones average more than 2,200 text messages per month."  (This was based on 2010 statistics)

Any of us, as Americans, can list a whole slew of things which enslave us if we are honest about it. It can be things like cell phones and texting, or just wanting more than enough of anything. It might be an attitude like judging others, being unforgiving, or an emotion such as anger or hate. It could be a situation like working at something you really dislike in order to pay the bills. Or becoming someone who spends much of their life worrying, because they have so much they fear to lose. The list could go on. But it is not my place to judge the things, and choices, which hold people bound. The real question is do you actually want to be free? I had a quote on the wall at the Center some years ago. I cannot find it now, but basically it said that true security lies not in what you have, but in what you can do without. That statement resonated with me several decades ago. Although I see God as the only ultimate security, I believed that living the truth of such a statement was a step toward freedom, and still do. I believe Jesus about the truth setting you free. 

 

So what has worked in granting me a greater freedom over these last two and a half decades? I think I will start with something practical, and a common enslaver for many of us . . . our personal finances. Even before terminating my contract with State Farm Insurance to begin the Teaching & Sharing Center, I came to believe that sharing 10% (a tithe) of my gross income wherever I saw God's work being done was an absolute I needed to make a part of my life. I saw it as a minimum, not something to work up to. I began to do it at a time when my money was tight, and by worldly wisdom I could ill afford to add any additional expenditures. Still, I had read in Scripture that God invited us to test Him. 

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."  (Malachi 3:10 NIV)

In those same years, I read an article based on Biblical principles which was written by a Christian financial counselor who recommended what he called the 10-10-80 system. Tithe the first ten percent. Save the second ten percent. Then learn to live on the eighty percent. I also saw that the Bible spoke against credit use, as something that would easily enslave you. My dad had offered the same advice earlier, but I had not heeded it. Significant debt had already taken me captive by the time I was ready to seriously find some sort of financial relief. I had enough experience under my belt to know trying to get rich would not provide the freedom I yearned for. I have embraced the 10-10-80 system to this day. The T&SC finances are managed the same way. It took 15 years to get rid of all the debt I had incurred, but it did happen. We have no credit cards. We do have debit cards from our checking accounts in the event we need to use a Visa or MasterCard. But we buy only what we actually have the cash for. And we set aside a tithe, religiously, on every little bit of income. I do not think our situation would qualify as "so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." However, we went through the last recession without even a financial sneeze. 

Edgar Cayce was quoted as saying ". . . for never has he that served the living God wanted for the necessities of life." That would be an accurate description for us. In fact, I have come to appreciate the things we often take for granted . . . clean drinking water, clean hot water to shower with, a heated home in winter, and a cool home in summer, a good roof over our heads, a car, and food in the cupboards and refrigerator, as immense blessings to be thankful for. We are not entitled just because we were born as Americans. Every thing we have is a gift from God. Sometimes directly, and sometimes through the talents and intelligence He endowed us with. The 10-10-80 system combined with debt free living works.  

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Forgiveness works. No need to quote the Bible. Even secular culture preaches the personal benefit of embracing forgiveness. A prayer of forgiveness was one of the first major prayers I lifted up to God when I began my spiritual journey. Later in the william's works section of this newsletter, I will share an Elaine Dessing email, where she elaborates on the freedom found in forgiveness. I also have a Richard Rohr article following relating to grace and forgiveness. 

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Humility works. I am not very good at it. But on those occasions when it legitimately shows up, I find it brings with it an incredible sense of freedom. It is the topic of the other article by Elaine. 

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Grace works. Accepting that we are all just trying to find our way in a place we truly have no concept of how it, or we, came to be, allows us to embrace grace. Even being as comfortable as I am with saying God did it, does not shed light on the most basic question of how anything, especially God, is. If we cannot answer this most basic of questions, why are we arrogantly drawing lines in the sand about anything? I will share a John Two-Hawks article about "demarcation" later, along with some Richard Rohr items. 

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Simplicity works. It can be a rather complicated journey to work toward simplicity, but it is ultimately a necessity for our survival as a species. Plus, it is very freeing at every step along the way. Jerry Iversen sends an email called Today’s Simpler Living Nudge. A few of them relating to simple living will be shared in the william's works section. 

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Surrendering to Jesus' most basic admonitions really works. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," as with so many other things He said, might sound restrictive, but actually sets you free. Any day can be Independence Day when you finally decide to stop trying to run the show by yourself, and surrender control back to the God who gave you your freedom in the first place. It seems contradictory. Yet my experience has been my freedom increases every time I give any area of my life fully over to God. Do not be fooled by this. Sometimes our seemingly surrender to God often takes on the form of accepting a religious kind of slavery found in trying to live up to man made interpretations of what God wants or expects. God is real. You can ask Him directly. In doing so, if participation in a religious community would be good for your life, you can be involved with others while keeping your hope and desire for help focused in God. (See Psalm 146:3-6.) 

Jesus answered,
“I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me."
(John 14:6 NIV)

Everyone is free to do as they like with statements Jesus made, including questioning whether He actually made them. You are free to believe He was "God with us," or not. If He is Who He says He is, He gave you that freedom. I do not like everything He said. Still, I trust Him. I am not willing to take a chance that John 14:6 is not accurately recorded, nor the literal truth. Almost everything about Jesus makes sense to me. Mostly because it is all so contrary to worldly ways, only God would dare to offer it up with such authority. If the Christians you know, or have seen in the news, have left you less than enthusiastic about a relationship with Jesus, I would humbly suggest you stop looking at, or listening to those Christians. Seek instead to learn all you can about Jesus directly, without the distortions of how we conveniently conform Him to the desires of our own lives, and our own personalities. If Scripture turns out to be accurately passed down through the ages, and there is every evidence it has, then Jesus died saving you. He died saving me. Any friend who would step in and take a bullet, arrow, disease, or any cause of death headed your way would be worthy of more than a few moments of your time to remember, and maybe even learn more about such a love. A worldly friend would be past any ability to help you further. But a resurrected Jesus still loves you so much He is willing to walk through your whole life with you. Even if you have spent most of it so far spitting on him, pressing crowns of thorns into his scalp, calling him a liar or a fraud, or simply ignoring Him altogether, and the great love that would be poured out in blood for you . . . for me . . . for every one of us . . . however we might have chosen to abuse our freedom. The last three decades of giving my life back to God, is the best decision I have ever made. It works. 

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One of the t-shirts I wear for exercising says "freedom is not free." It is a fine thought, but it is not the truth. God freely granted each of us our independence from the beginning. Keeping that freedom is what is not free. There are many who would take our God given freedom from us, both blatantly and deceptively. I pray you will find the truth which sets you free from the numerous forms of bondage this world, and our culture, brings to your doorstep. 

 

 

Teaching and sharing the knowledge and wisdom I find in other's works, is as much a part of the william's works mission as is sharing my own creations. I had set aside quite a lot of  possibilities when I finally made time to do this newsletter. While I am sharing only a portion of them, it is still very long. You might not want to read it all in one sitting. You could treat it as six months of smaller newsletters waiting to be read at your convenience. Leaving the email in your inbox as a reminder to read another piece whenever you like might help. Another option is to just glance over it to see if anything catches your eye. Of course, ignoring it entirely is also a part of the freedom God has given to us. But, I hope something here touches your spirit, and increases your freedom. 

 

My Picture of the Week on July 4, 2018

Text: After the American flag, there has come to be no greater recognized symbol of American freedom than the bald eagle. Even injured, and recovering in a captive environment, as is this bird, it has a determined look of power and independence about it. I hope you each had a wonderful Independence Day with the opportunity to reflect on our freedom, and the sacrifices to gain and maintain it.  *Added Note Here: We tend to think mostly of military sacrifices these days, but our history is full of stories of those who stood up for our freedoms far from military battlefields at home or abroad. 

 

 

Here are some reminders from three old testament prophets we would do well to keep in mind.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6 NIV)

All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:47 NIV)

Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them — not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them (Hosea 1:7 NIV)

History is packed with nations, empires, and civilizations who have seen themselves as powerful. Yet they have come and gone without exception, usually when they got so full of themselves they forgot they could not even answer the most basic life question, and saw themselves as the ultimate supreme source of their bounty and good fortune. In some you only had our levels of freedom if you were high in the societal structure. In those with broader freedoms for the multitudes, as things started to crumble, freedoms also disappeared quickly with the deterioration of each culture. 

We are not immune to the historical disease of self-deception. Abraham Lincoln once said that we need not fear being conquered by outside forces. If we were to be destroyed, it would come from within our own selves. We would do well to not become so enamored and self-indulgent with the trivial, that we brush off as unimportant the real choices which will determine our future freedom. 

 

 

 

From: Elaine Holistic
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 7:20 PM
Subject: Father’s Day and Forgiveness

We just celebrated Father’s Day last Sunday.  All of us had a father.  He may have been a wonderful supportive role model.  I hope that was your experience.  Many people, though, had fathers that were not supportive and loving – father’s are, after all, human.  Some fathers were just absent and in certain cases they were even abusive.  Can you forgive the ones who hurt you, or weren’t there for you?   That doesn’t mean you forget, whether it was your father or anyone else in your life who hurt you.  Your memories will always be yours to keep.  Does that memory bring pain, though?  That can be changed.  The emotional charge that the person or event triggers in you can be released.

Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.  When someone has hurt you, you can carry the pain long past the moment.  Even when they are gone you can still be suffering if you carry the heavy burden of hatred, or anger, or sadness.  You deserve to be free of those feelings.  Forgiveness frees you.  In forgiveness you give the person over to God for Divine Justice and you cut the cords that had you tied to to the person or the painful event.  That never for one moment minimizes what was done, or implies that what was done doesn’t matter.  It matters.  You have just removed yourself from the process that will take place between the perpetrator and God.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to forgive everybody for everything, and just be free to live your life?  You can decide to do that by giving all those situations and all those people and all those feelings over to God.  May you find the peace that forgiveness brings.

Many blessings,
Elaine

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From: Elaine Holistic
Sent: Tuesday, May 1, 2018 7:52 PM
Subject: Definitions of Humility

The word humility has often been a hard one for humans to understand. Some people believe it means to think less of themselves than they do of someone else, or to put themselves down. That’s sad. If someone’s accomplishments have exceeded mine, they may often deserve my respect and my appreciation, but humility is a whole other thing.

Perhaps humility is best understood if we don’t use it as a comparison with something or someone else, unless that someone else is God. I have often used the definition that when I am humble I can acknowledge all the wonderful things I am and the wonderful things I do – however, I never, ever forget that God gave me those abilities in the first place and all glory goes to God. Humility for me is all wrapped up with gratitude.

Scriptures suggest that we humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord. That in no way means to think you are small and unimportant and insignificant and unworthy. It only means to be aware of how powerful, mighty and wonderful the Lord is.

I heard other great definitions of humility this week, though, that I wanted to share with you. Someone said, ‘when I am humble I am teachable’. Another said, ‘true humility does not mean meek surrender to any given human situation, but surrender to God’s will for your life. The attitude of true humility confers dignity and grace on us, and strengthens us to take intelligent spiritual action in solving our problems.’

I love those definitions of humility. Rather than putting us down, they build us up, and empower us, and that’s what true humility is supposed to do.

Many blessings,
Elaine

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From: John Two-Hawks
Sent: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 6:42 PM
Subject: Circle of Nations Newsletter - June 2018

Each section of the Circle of Nations newsletter is written 'facing' one of the four sacred winds, beginning with the east, then the south, west and finally the north.  This is to honor the old ways.  It is to teach and to help us to focus and find the center.

This excerpt reprinted with permission is:

WEST - Wiyohpeyata

 

Demarcation: “The determining and marking off of the boundaries of something.

In this image, a woman walks casually over the very place where the infamous Berlin Wall once stood. As I stand on the vantage point of perspective and cast my eyes upon the history of humanity, I can see clearly that which is at the root of nearly all human strife – demarcation. It is uniquely human to draw lines, to divide and separate – and to then categorize, marginalize and label. We have done it forever. The demarcations we imagine between us have resulted in oppression, slavery, racism, genocide and war.  From ancient times, human beings have suffered with the sickness of demarcation. From time immemorial we have divided ourselves from one another by race, color, gender, ethnicity, culture, class, and a myriad of other fictional justifications for divisiveness. What is wrong with us? When are we going to learn? 

When are we going to finally realize that we are in this together, and that we have far more in common with each other than we often realize?  Did you know that 99.9% of all human DNA is identical?  That’s right – we are all 99.9% identical to one another.  What that means is that it is only the .1% of our shared DNA that results in all of our beautiful diversity.  That is a miracle, and it is something we should celebrate each other for – not hate each other for.  It is long past time for humanity to come to terms with itself; to put an end to the sickness of demarcation, and open our hearts and our arms to one another.  Especially to those who we have been fooled into thinking are so vastly different from us; those whose ethnicity or complexion is different from ours – those on the other side of our demarcation, our line, our boundary.  We must learn the power of empathy – to stand in someone else's shoes and feel what they feel – that we may finally see the truth, that we are not so different after all.  That, in the end, when the demarcations we have been duped into believing are erased, we will look over and find a friend, a brother, and a sister on the other side of a once impenetrable wall . . . .

 

 

From: Richard Rohr [Center for Action and Contemplation]
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 2:01 AM
Subject: Restorative Justice

Almost all religion and cultures that I know of have believed in one way or another that sin and evil are to be punished and that retribution is to be demanded of the sinner in this world—and usually the next world, too. Such retributive justice is a dualistic system of reward and punishment, good guys and bad guys, and makes perfect sense to the ego. I call it the economy of merit or “meritocracy.” This system seems to be the best that prisons, courtrooms, wars, and even most of the church (which should know better) appear equipped to do. 

Jesus, many mystics, and other wisdom traditions—such as the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous—show that sin and failure are, in fact, an opportunity for the transformation and enlightenment of the offender. Mere counting and ledger-keeping is not the way of the Gospel. Our best self wants to restore relationships, and not just blame or punish. This is the “economy of grace.” (The trouble is that we defined God as “punisher in chief” instead of Healer, Forgiver, and Reconciler and so the retribution model was legitimized all the way down!) 

What humanity really needs is an honest exposure of the truth and accountability for what has happened. Only then can human beings move ahead with dignity. Hurt needs to be spoken and heard. It does not just go away on its own. This can then lead to “restorative justice,” which is what the prophets invariably promise to the people of Israel (e.g., Ezekiel 16:53; Isaiah 57:17-19) and is exemplified in Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and throughout his healing ministry. We lose that and we lose the Gospel itself. 

The aim of restorative justice is to return the person to a useful position in the community. Thus, there can be healing on both sides. Such justice is a mystery that only makes sense to the soul. It is a direct corollary of our “economy of grace” and yet the term restorative justice only entered our vocabulary in the last few decades. How can we deny that there is an evolution of consciousness, even consciousness of where the Gospel is leading us? 

As any good therapist will tell you, you cannot heal what you do not acknowledge. What you do not consciously acknowledge will remain in control from within, festering and destroying you and those around you. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus teaches, “If you bring forth that which is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring it forth, it will destroy you.” 

Only mutual apology, healing, and forgiveness offer a sustainable future for humanity. Otherwise, we are controlled by the past, individually and corporately. We all need to apologize, and we all need to forgive or this human project will surely self-destruct. No wonder that almost two-thirds of Jesus’ teaching is directly or indirectly about forgiveness. Otherwise, history devolves into taking sides, bitterness, holding grudges, and the violence that inevitably follows. As others have said, “Forgiveness is to let go of our hope for a different past.” Reality is what it is, and such acceptance leads to great freedom, as long as there is also both accountability and healing forgiveness. 

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From: Richard Rohr [Center for Action and Contemplation]
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 2:01 AM
Subject: Reclaiming Jesus

Earlier this year, I collaborated with a group of Christian leaders in the United States to write a statement to our churches, “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis.” I invite you to meditate on three of our affirmations: 

The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. The government’s role is to serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior (Romans 13). When that role is undermined by political leadership, faith leaders must stand up and speak out. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.” 

I. WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). That image and likeness confers a divinely decreed dignity, worth, and God-given equality to all of us as children of the one God who is the Creator of all things. Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God (the imago dei) in some of the children of God. Our participation in the global community of Christ absolutely prevents any toleration of racial bigotry. Racial justice and healing are biblical and theological issues for us, and are central to the mission of the body of Christ in the world. We give thanks for the prophetic role of the historic black churches in America when they have called for a more faithful gospel. 

II. WE BELIEVE we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Galatians 3:28). [I would add sexual orientation as well.] The body of Christ, where those great human divisions are to be overcome, is meant to be an example for the rest of society. When we fail to overcome these oppressive obstacles, and even perpetuate them, we have failed in our vocation to the world—to proclaim and live the reconciling gospel of Christ. 

III. WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). God calls us to protect and seek justice for those who are poor and vulnerable, and our treatment of people who are “oppressed,” “strangers,” “outsiders,” or otherwise considered “marginal” is a test of our relationship to God, who made us all equal in divine dignity and love. Our proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ is at stake in our solidarity with the most vulnerable. If our gospel is not “good news to the poor,” it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18). 

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Here are a few excerpts, rather than the whole daily meditation: 

Thursday, June 14, 2018 2:01 AM

. . . Prayer is a way of connecting with our source. It is about being centered, grounded, mindful of the holy, the presence of the sacred and the precious . . . Prayer can help us to connect with the poor with open eyes and hearts. It is prayer that can allow us to educate with patience, love and understanding. It is prayer that can enable us to move to a simpler lifestyle. And it is prayer that will allow us to do this with conviction and joy.

And whether or not we pray is as obvious as whether or not we have put our clothes on. For example, the compulsive, frantic, angry, cynical, unintegrated rambling from project to project — even from peace project to peace project — may speak of good intentions, but also of an uneasy and untended inner life. It is possible . . . to do much harm because we have not taken the time to pray . . .

We are nonviolent, not because we simply eschew violence; rather, we are nonviolent because we are people who love like Jesus. When our lives are active and occupied in the name of doing good, there is little space for violence and doing harm.

. . . we must imagine what God’s peace and justice look like on this earth, and we must begin the work of crafting structures, institutions, human realities that are the antithesis to division, hate, greed and scarcity, that anticipate and cultivate justice and goodness and peace.

Thursday, June 21, 2018 2:01 AM

The translation of Namaste is one of infinite depth. It means: The divinity in me . . . salutes the divinity in you.

Namaste asks something huge of us: If the divinity in me recognizes the divinity in you, how could I abuse, debase, violate, or harass? I would, after all, only be punishing myself . . . 

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This next one also relates to "finding freedom in the truth," but is primarily reprinted in its entirety to honor the mission statement of Cherokee Bill's Teaching & Trade Center, an important aspect of not who my ancestors might have been, but where God has lead me. Blended into who I am. 

From: Richard Rohr [Center for Action and Contemplation]
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2018 2:01 AM
Subject: Justice Close to Home

Over the last two weeks I’ve explored justice in a broad way. Today I’d like to bring it closer to home, in a little longer meditation, so you get a fuller picture and some of the nuances in my own life. 

My first assignment as an ordained deacon in 1969 was working with the Acoma Indians, a Pueblo people living west of Albuquerque. I quickly fell in love with this multi-cultural and beautiful “Land of Enchantment.” 

In 1986 when I felt called to start the Center for Action and Contemplation, I returned to New Mexico. Its physical proximity to the U.S./Mexico border, Franciscan legacy (both good and bad), extreme poverty (only Mississippi and U.S. territories have higher poverty rates in the U.S.), and history of nuclear testing made this seem like a good place to live in solidarity with suffering and practice contemplative approaches to justice and peacemaking. 

I am still learning to hold the tension of our stunning landscape and rich art with so much injustice and pain. I’ll share just a few examples of New Mexico’s complex past and present. 

The Catholic “Doctrine of Discovery” sent Spanish Conquistadors in search of gold, beginning in the sixteenth century. As the area was colonized, many indigenous peoples were massacred, enslaved, or forced to assimilate. Colonial governor Juan de Oñate (1550-1626) had one foot cut off of each man in Acoma Pueblo after they rebelled against Spanish domination. By the late eighteenth century, approximately one-third of New Mexico’s native population was enslaved. 

The exploitation of Native Americans continued under Mexican and then United States rule. In the late 1800s, two federal “Indian” boarding schools in the state tried to “remove the cultural and individual identity” of Native American children by prohibiting them from “practicing their native language and beliefs.” Anglo settlers stole land from both Native Americans and Hispanic residents. The U.S. Army forced the Navajo or Diné people onto a small reservation on the eastern side of the state in 1864; the “Long Walk to Bosque Redondo” from the Navajos’ home in western New Mexico — which covered 300 miles of desert and mountains — was an attempt at ethnic cleansing. 

The U.S. government has formed numerous treaties with tribes and pueblos, only to blatantly disregard them and give preference to corporations and private interests. Today Native Americans continue to struggle to protect their land, water, and diverse cultures. Even while many in the U.S. try to keep immigrants from crossing our country’s borders, they have broken promises to respect the boundaries of those who were here before us. 

Migration — whether chosen or forced — is a reality we must continue to face. U.S. interference in Central America has led to destabilization and violence. In 1986, the year before the Center for Action and Contemplation officially opened, our governor declared New Mexico the country’s first “State of Sanctuary,” a welcoming place for those fleeing civil wars in Central America. Albuquerque’s mayor, Tim Keller, recently affirmed that we are an “Immigrant Friendly” city, limiting city resources in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. I support this decision and applaud the faith communities who are sheltering undocumented immigrants! 

The policies of separating families at the U.S./Mexico border and of criminalizing those who seek asylum are disgraceful. Throughout Scripture we see God’s mercy toward the outsider and the vulnerable. Jesus makes our treatment of "the least of these brothers and sisters" the only real criteria for the final judgment (see Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus himself was a refugee, and his life and teaching show us what it means to welcome the stranger in our midst. Without love, "law and order" mentalities too often lead to dehumanization, concentration camps, and genocide. In today’s political arena there is a lot of finger-pointing; we need to move beyond blame and rhetoric to take action on behalf of those who are suffering. 

With its high desert environment, New Mexico is particularly vulnerable to climate change. The Rio Grande, which begins in Colorado and finally borders Texas and Mexico, often dries up in the summer before it reaches the Gulf of Mexico, and droughts will only worsen. The over-consumption of fossil fuels in the U.S. has significantly contributed to global warming. Those in power must take responsibility for caring for the people and places most impacted. We’ll all have to come together as a community to find creative ways of sharing and preserving our resources. 

Our history is complex and layered. There is no single side of the story, though history is often written from the perspective of the “victor.” We continue to peel back the layers and learn more about the many people who call New Mexico home, often displacing or marginalizing the previous residents. I can only touch on a few of the issues I’ve learned about. In doing so I hope to spark curiosity about your own place in the world. Who lived on “your” land before you? If you don’t know, find out. How might this awareness change the way you live and your attitudes and actions toward indigenous peoples and immigrants? 

 

 

I have been told there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who are Irish, and those who wish they were Irish. I do not remember if it was a Leprechaun who said such a thing, but before I forget, Happy St. Patrick's Day, whether you are still celebrating the last one, or getting ready for the next. I am not so certain St. Patrick himself would be all that enamored by the way we have come to celebrate a day honoring him, but that is another newsletter altogether.  

 

From: Jerry Iversen [Simple Living Works]
Sent: Thursday, November 3, 2016 10:34 AM
Subject: Today’s Simpler Living Nudge

Simplicity is a disciplined life - disciplined, not punished or deprived or joyless. We are given great freedom to care about all of God's Creation, rather than nurturing the perversions and idols that our society has created and worships - our "stuff." Stuff exists to meet our needs. But if we spend our time, energy and money nurturing it instead of our relationships with God, others and ourselves, it will own us, control us and ultimately destroy us and the Earth. 

_______ 

From: Jerry Iversen [Simple Living Works]
Sent: Monday, January 2, 2017 3:38 PM
Subject: Today’s Simpler Living Nudge

Voluntary Simplicity is not about following rules, but about living by principles. Living more simply is about personal responsibility. It's seeing where our lives may be extravagant, even out-of-control, and deciding what to do a little at a time to cut down on overconsumption. Don't begin cold turkey. You might get frustrated and give up.

_______

From: Jerry Iversen [Simple Living Works]
Sent: Tuesday, January 3, 2017 11:39 AM
Subject: Today’s Simpler Living Nudge

20% of the world's population - the Overconsumers - use 80% of the resources and the other 80% - the Sustainers - use only 20%. Our planet cannot sustain life if everyone lived like the Overconsumers. The motto of voluntary simplicity begins to make sense: Live simply that others may simply live. Alternatives' Any Year Calendar challenges us Overconsumers - virtually every person in North America, Western Europe and Japan - to offer up an Environmental Tithe, to reduce consumption of all resources by at least 10%. God put us on Earth to be stewards of Creation - sustainers, not abusers; protectors, not dominators.  

_______

There are many voices out there teaching and sharing, but there are still way too many lives stuck in the competing and comparing model our culture has embraced for most of our history. A very good friend once remarked about the world being divided into the "haves" and the "have nots." He indicated he saw himself in the former, and me in the latter. Just in case you missed it along the way, I do not see myself as a person who lacks anything the world has to offer, much of which would give me less freedom, not more. The real things of value are found in that which God offers. There are several of those in which I deem myself lacking. One of those is in the area of faith . . .

Matthew 6:19-21 and 6:24-34
(NRSV excerpts *except the last line is as translated in the movie Jesus of Nazareth)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." 

“No one can serve two masters . . .  You cannot serve God and wealth." 

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you — you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." 

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. *Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day." 

These were the key Scripture verses I took to heart when I left my former career to begin this journey over 24 years ago. My commitment to them had begun even before then. When Donna and I were talking about getting married, I explained it would not be a merging of philosophies. I had made an absolute commitment to God, and she would be joining me on wherever that led. She indicated the main thing for her was she did not want to be a stay at home wife. She had a career, and wanted to keep it. As it turns out, it was what put food on the table for the twenty years I worked without an income. God chose well. 

Still it was not an easy time for me. I took a lot of criticism that living the above verses was totally unrealistic. And did not the Bible also say the man was supposed to provide for his family? And how did I expect to pay the bills of the ministry if I had no income? I did not have a pot of money sitting somewhere. I had only a small amount of termination payments which would come in from State Farm for five years, which would all be used up just paying the Center rent, utilities, insurance, and phone bill. I gave myself a year. Then five. Then the State Farm money stopped. As things got tight along the way in that first decade, I listened to the critics. Not wanting to be the joke of the man in the flood who passed up two boats and a helicopter waiting for God to do something miraculous, I tried several opportunities which presented themselves as possible income sources. In spite of twenty years of training and good skills, everything hit a brick wall. At one point a friend offered me a job where I could set my own hours, but I only tried it briefly. Even setting my own hours it left too much of my "seeking first the kingdom of God" endeavors undone, and work piling up. At about the halfway point of the first two decades, I concluded God's message was that I was not to chase after money. Not even in small ways. Not even to do "His work." It showed a lack of faith in what I said I believed, and the full commitment to living the above verses. All along the way I have said when the money ran out, I would just close the doors, and figure out where else God wanted me to serve. It has been 24 years since those verses influenced one of the biggest choices in my life.

In multiple Bible verses (Matthew 17:20, Matthew 21:21, Mark 11:22-23, and Luke 17:6) Jesus states it would only take a little bit (in one verse the size of a mustard seed) of absolute faith to command a tree, or even a mountain to move into the sea. I cannot even comprehend that level of faith, but I believe Him. The more I learn about science, the more plausible it seems. But that is the far end of the scale. I am still at the beginning. I think my listening to the criticisms, and showing only a half-hearted faith has cost me. It certainly let me lose some momentum. It also seemed to diminish my credibility among some of those who contributed financially early on. I do not regret the choices made. It was obviously the best way for me to gain what I needed to learn. How a little more faith contributes to an enormous increase in freedom. Waiting for God, and living with how He chooses to provide, has been a difficult journey for me. But 24 years later, the T&SC is still here, and now a public charity. And my part, whatever God deems that to be, continues. Hopefully with a little more faith, because . . . faith ultimately works . . . even faith smaller than a mustard seed. 

I suspect if faith, hope, and love were a final exam, I would only pass the hope part of it. But the Bible says the only test I need to pass is believing in and connecting with Jesus. This is Love. 

 

 

 

I had the below graphic in my last newsletter as well. But it seemed to fit into this theme too, so I am repeating it. I probably need to see it over and over again as a reminder. Then I will close this newsletter with an email from a longtime friend. Richard also happens to be the pastor who baptized me. I had not set his email aside for here, but when I ran across it while getting other things from folders, it felt like God was offering an item relating to both faith and freedom. In fact, I only went looking for the above poem, and wrote the preceding text, after I had copied the email into this newsletter. I think God was making sure I included faith in the list of what works. 

 

 

From: RICHARD 
Sent: Saturday, June 30, 2018 4:10 PM
To: William Gibbons Jr.
Subject: Need Washing?

"A little girl had been shopping with her Mom in Walmart. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence.

It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout. We all stood there, under the awning, just inside the door of the Walmart. We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day.

I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world.  Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.

Her little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in, 'Mom let's run through the rain,' She said.  'What?' Mom asked. 'Let's run through the rain!' She repeated. 'No, honey. We'll wait until it slows down a bit,' Mom replied.

This young child waited a minute and repeated: 'Mom, let's run through the rain.' 'We'll get soaked if we do,' Mom said. 'No, we won't, Mom. That's not what you said this morning,' the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom's arm. 

'This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?' 'Don't you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, 'If God can get us through this, He can get us through anything!' 

The entire crowd stopped dead silent . . . I swear you couldn't hear anything but the rain . . . We all stood silently. No one left. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child's life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith. 

'Honey, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain. If GOD lets us get wet, well maybe we just need washing,' Mom said. Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They got soaked. They were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. And yes, I did.  I ran.  I got wet.  I needed washing.

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories . . . So, don't forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories every day.

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

I HOPE YOU STILL TAKE THE TIME TO RUN THROUGH THE RAIN."

_______

And I will add, may God bless you with the freedom of heart to unabashedly make such a choice.

 

God's peace,

 

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