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Jagged Zen Monkey

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Jagged Zen Monkey last won the day on January 7 2012

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About Jagged Zen Monkey

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  • Birthday 12/29/1970

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  1. I too struggle with any type of literal blood sacrifice. When I think of what Jesus actually did, I tend to view his sacrifice in terms of a life dedicated to the Father, which is oddly enough what we are called to do ourselves [Romans 12:1]. God does not demand spilled blood [surely], but I do think he expects us to present ourselves as living sacrifices as Jesus did. This amounts to living our lives in obedience to God's will. If we take Jesus' life, his teachings, and his actions to heart then God's will is for us to love one another and serve one another's others needs. Even Jesus, the son of God lived a life of service. This was his sacrifice as well as his reasonable duty as God's son. Likewise, we too are called to live a life of service, which is our reasonably duty as adopted children of God. Blood signifies the seat of life, which for those who have been born again, is the Holy Spirit. To be born again simply implies being made new, given a new heart and purpose through the Spirit, which is love. The blood of Jesus, which was his seat of life is the Spirit and love of God. The blood, which is Spirit cleanses each of us from our sins, making us new creations according to God's will. The reason I believe this is because of what Jesus alluded to in John 6 when he spoke of drinking his blood and eating his flesh, which he later referred to as Spirit and life. He in effect told us that blood represents Spirit and flesh represents a life dedicated to God's will. See John 4:34. Jesus, who's food (meat) was to do his fathers will, trudged a path that few of us follow. However, we are required to follow that narrow path if we desire to enter into the kingdom of God. We all know the way. It's as plain as the nose on our faces. It's not a difficult path by any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, Jesus told us that his yoke is easy and his burden light. The yoke by which we are yoked to Christ is love. Love is God's will for us all. It is likewise written that God is love, thus it is God who guides us through his Spirit. Christ simply shares the work load with us. I think we sometimes make it more difficult than it truly is. We sometimes resist love which makes for a not so pleasant day in the field. However, when we yield amazing things happen. We are blessed whereby we are able to bless others. In closing, shed blood equates to the pouring out of God's Spirit upon humanity, through which we are cleansed from our sinful nature (the old man) and are reborn, becoming partakers of the divine nature (the new man). Ultimate sacrifice is about presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice as Jesus did. It is about dying to the old man, and being made new creations through the Spirit. It's about becoming who we were born to be. It's about forsaking our self serving ways to pursue something beneficial to those we share this world with. It's about service, love, and sharing our blessings with our fellow man. It's about becoming the good ground so that the seed which is the Word/logos of God can grow within each of us without being strained by the world. It's about becoming a tree of life through love and wisdom, whereby we are able to bring good fruit to maturity. When the fruits we produce are love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, patience, faith, and self control we ourselves have become the ultimate sacrifice, even as Jesus was an ultimate sacrifice as recorded in scripture.
  2. I think the term hell has a predominately negative stigma attached without cause. Once upon a time the term "Christian" was a term with a negative stigma attached also. Modern Christians use the term hell to connote something brutally negative, when in reality I think hell is simply a place of learning. This place of learning is riddled with both pleasure and pain. Both pleasure and pain are needed if we wish to further ascend. Beyond this, the pains others experience often move us to compassion, whereby we come to view humanity as being one, as opposed to being something separate from ourselves. Hell isn't a bad thing, but rather it is something necessary when it comes to us developing and growing as a people.
  3. Being that we do experience such contrasting lives, I might suggest that karma plays a major role in the quality of life we each experience. Like the rich man who lived a great life, yet failed to be a good steward, we too face certain karmic debts when we ourselves neglect the needs of those we come in contact with. I've been very blessed as well, George. However, I do my best to be a good steward by sharing my blessings with those who are in need.
  4. I quite agree with your sentiments about life not being bad. However, for many life is a nightmare. I think the goal is to lessen the woes many experience in life by being good stewards, which is something the rich man was not. I think we all have our karmic debts to pay, so life next time round may or not be as pleasant as the life you lead today. This is why I view life to a place of learning. We may very well learn to become good stewards over many lifetimes. Once we have learned to be good stewards, and embrace our call as good stewards, we are then able to move forward in God's kingdom, which is said to be a place w/o suffering. I for one strive to enter the gates of heaven, but I realize that I'm likely not yet ready to do so.
  5. Your late night thoughts are very similar to to how I view things as well. Not exact, but close! I've not made it past my distractions, thus I'm still learning here in "hell", which could very well turn at any moment. Ahhh to be free! Maybe one day, eh?
  6. I agree with the majority of your post. We need both pleasure and pain to ascend. To me hell is not a bad thing. Hell is merely a means to ascend and a place of learning that prepares us for greater things. If it's not heaven then it's hell is the thought here. I don't think anyone will ever know it all or be in a position to look down on others. I think those who first learn how to live effectively in love, peace, and unity will be preserved after death and sleep until the kingdom is established by the living. At which time I believe the dead will be raised (reborn) into God's kingdom. Those who have died, but who were among the first to understand how to live in the kingdom, will be the last to enter the kingdom. Many names come to mind actually. I believe they will enter the kingdom by natural means. By natural I mean by birth as a new born.
  7. Could be, but this life teaches us many things about living and how life works. If there is more after, then it likewise makes sense that this life is meant to prepare us for what's to come. If a person cannot see value in the life lessons learned here, or how life leads us to lead better lives through our experiences, then I'm not sure what to say. You, in effect, suggest that it makes no sense to think that life prepares us for the kingdom. Surely you don't think we are ready for the kingdom as we are. How would that work exactly? If the kingdom will be free of evil and wickedness, then how exactly will anyone ever get there w/o first going through life and learning how to live in love, peace, and in unity with our fellow man? Likewise, without the knowledge of evil and its effects on our lives, I don't think we would be able to prevent ourselves from 'falling' again. In my view we can work the program and graduate knowing and understanding how to live effectively, or we can resist and not make the grade. It's the hereafter part that we don't know with any certainty.
  8. I agree in a literal sense that hell as a place of tormenting punishment does not exist, but how then do you interpret the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? Sure, it's metaphor but how is that metaphor used and what is it meant to convey according to your understanding?
  9. It certainly works for and makes sense to me. For some hell is a literal place of punishment. For others it is simply the grave. Still for others it is something else entirely. No matter how we view hell or the second death, Jesus most certainly taught that such a place exists. I'm not sure how Progressives view Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus or how progressives view reincarnation, but the view I presented above does resonate with me. Not only is it hopeful, but I believe it is biblical also. I'd love to hear the board members views of what hell is and perhaps even an explanation of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Anyone up to it? What is hell? @ Joseph - I think that there are a few among us who when they die will in fact be raised (reborn) into a world without suffering. Eternal life? Who knows with any certainty but this is my hope. For some, the many life lessons are perhaps coming at a close and they have been prepared for the coming new world. They have perhaps finished their education and are ready for God's kingdom. I'd love to be counted among them, but I have a feeling that there are many lessons still left for me to learn in life. Maybe I will complete the course in this lifetime, maybe I won't. No matter. I think God gives us ample time to learn and that God allows us to learn at our own pace.
  10. When my atheist cousin wrote to me with questions about hell, I wrote the following in reply. He's about as well versed in scripture as the average Christian. "I believe we currently reside in the hell Jesus spoke of in his parables. Likewise, I believe this is where we will return if we fail to make the grade. Like the rich man in Jesus' parable, we too may very well face a potential life of torment once again if we neglect our duties in this life. I believe being reborn in this imperfect world is the second death spoken of in the book of Revelation. I believe that life on this earth as it relates to our karmic debt is the hell Jesus alluded to in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The earth as it exists today is a place of many trials. It is a place of suffering and torment. It's not necessarily a terrible thing for us all, but it is something that is necessary. Life is where we get our education. We learn from the many hardships we experience in life, some of which we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy. The earth, in effect, is a school where we learn how to live effectively, compassionately, and productively. The more we live, the more we learn and the easier life becomes. I believe we live our lives on this earth until we have learned how to live effectively in God's kingdom. No matter how many lifetimes it takes, I personally believe we are all destined for a perfect world. Life is about growth, development, learning how to love, and about service. Until we put into practice what we learn and become faithful, living in harmony with those we share this world with, we will continue to experience unnecessary hardships. I believe we need this education in order to become productive members of a perfect society. You can't hardly expect a new creature (Adam/Eve) or a new born babe to know how to live effectively from the get go. For example: You can read about fire and heat and be told about fire and heat, but until you experience getting burned all you have is second hand knowledge. I simply think we are required to experience life first hand in order to understand how to live effectively. It can be no other way as far as I'm concerned. We need our education, and we gain our education by living and by learning our life lessons first hand. I think the whole point of life and suffering is to teach us how to live appropriately in the kingdom Jesus declared to us. Without knowledge, without understanding, and without our education we cannot possibly hope to maintain a perfect kingdom as a people. We are here to learn how to conduct our lives in God's kingdom, and to learn how to live according to the statutes of our Creator. This school sux sometimes, but if we expect to get ahead in life, we need to be educated. We need to be wise and faithful. I myself want a better life than the one I have today. I am certainly learning how to lead a better life the older I get and the more educated I become, however. One day I will be fully ready to live my life in the kingdom as a well educated adult, tried and tested by life, and refined by the spirit. Until then, I fully expect to go back to school at the end of each life cycle, so that this "school" might prepare me for a future in God's kingdom. Each of us are like children I think, and it is life that helps us mature and grow into productive members of society. We most assuredly need this education in order to maintain a perfect society in the future. We need to know and understand how to live in harmony with all things. I believe that we will one day have this knowledge, that we will come to learn how to love w/o condition, and that we will one day live together as one united people. Hell (this earth) is not so much a place of punishment as it is a place of many chances. It doesn't always seem to be fair, but it's all we've got for now. It is written that it is appointed for a man to die once, then comes the judgement. As a man I will die a "natural death", at which point I believe I will face the potential judgment of being sent back to earth to die again, which is the second death (rebirth). If I make the grade in this life, I believe I will peacefully rest and find comfort in Abraham's bosom until the kingdom is established, at which point I will be raised, or rather reborn into a world w/o suffering. This is my hope anyway. I fully believe that there is more to come after we die. This life is surely not the end of it all. I myself am looking to make the grade. I want to ace life as if it were a final exam or an interview for a perfect career. So yeah, we go through hell in order to get to heaven, just as we go through college in order to secure a future career. This isn't so much about wanting to believe a thing as much as it's about wanting more and hoping for something better. I'm happy you have found peace as an atheist, cuz. If there is nothing more, then I'll never know. There's no harm in having hope is there? My hope actually helps me appreciate life for what it's worth. The hope I have leads me to care more about the "education" this life offers. I simply pay more attention to the lessons at hand. A hope in the after life certainly isn't required to lead a good life today, but it does give me something more to look forward to. Sure, I have some beliefs that require a good amount of faith, but they help me live a more abundant life today. Some would call me delusional and unrealistic. So what? If it helps me live a beneficial life, then I don't see how it can be a bad thing. What say you?" I certainly didn't change his mind with our conversation, but he did tell me that he started praying again. Although I'm not certain who he's praying to. I'm pretty sure he still labels himself as an atheist, which I don't quite get. He's certainly a very unique individual, hehe.
  11. My suggestion is to watch the sun rise, listen to the orchestra that begins around day break, song birds, squirrels, bugs, etc. Watch the fog lift from the ground, feel the cool breeze, and breath it ALL in! My goodness! We begin again every morning we rise from bed. God is spoke about in the bible, but God is felt, seen, heard, and experienced in nature itself. The beauty present in this world is awe inspiring to say the least. Here's a good song for ya:
  12. It is a moral injustice to punish someone other than the person/s who committed the crime, but it is believed that God does just that. There is something fundamentally wrong with this mindset. Why would a just God punish an innocent man instead of the those who are guilty? I simply don't understand how a just God could punish an innocent man for "our" transgressions. Where is the justice in that? I know God loves us, but if God is truly just, then wouldn't he make us take responsibility for our own actions? Did Jesus truly give his life for us, or could it be that he simply showed us the way of life? He certainly showed us how to realize God's grace. He showed us how to love, and what it meant to love. Justice is not served by allowing the guilty to go without consequence. Nor is justice served by allowing another to pay for one's transgressions. There comes a point in life that we need to man up and take responsibility for ourselves. Many seem to disagree. I don't feel it right to pawn my sins on someone else. I feel it is wrong, and that it shows a lack of moral fiber, a lack of integrity, not to mention an utter disregard for accountability. True grace stems from yielding to God as love, and the mercy comes by way of the transformation that takes place as a result. We live a more abundant life, we sin less which produces far less negative consequences for our actions. Live a righteous life under God's guidance, and you will know life more fully. Jesus certainly gave his life for his friends. He called his disciples friends, so it was them who Jesus gave his life for, not us. You know when Peter cut off the guys ear? Had Jesus not rebuked Peter, what do you think would have happened? The rest would have fought to the death to save their master. They had two swords between them, and it would have been certain death had they continued to resist. Jesus knew this, just as he knew this day would come. No greater love! Jesus gave himself up in order to save the lives of his disciples. What did he do for the rest of us? He showed us the way of life. He showed us how to tap into God's grace. He showed us how to love, and what it means to love.
  13. What is there to say about religion? Should I focus on the intolerance many religions nurture, the righteous indignation championed, the hate filled bigotry held by many, and the murderous wars that have ensued? Or, shall I focus on the hope it offers to many? If hope, then what shall I say about the hope offered? If I focus on the former, then what can I say apart from the obvious? There is no doubt that religion offers hope to many, but what are the many hoping for? For some religions, their martyrs hope to be rewarded with many virgins upon death. For other religions, those who find enlightenment are rewarded with nirvana at death. Still for other religions, those who believe a certain way are rewarded with heaven at death. As far as I can tell, the most common theme championed in most religions when it comes to hope is self reward “deferred”. What can I gain by believing a certain way “someday”? What can I gain if I somehow reach enlightenment “someday”? What can I gain if I offer my body to be martyred “someday”? My question is why must it always be “someday”? Why not place our hope and desires in something much more immediate? Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs: 13:12 ). How can our desired hope ever be fulfilled when faith, hope, and love are to forever remain as written in 1st Corinthians 13:13? It is my view that many are hoping for the wrong things. I feel that many have misplaced their hope. Misplaced hope makes the heart sick because that hope is deferred, and as such is attainable only after certain criteria has been met, namely “death”. A simple matter of shifting our paradigm and changing our perspective can change this. Instead of hoping to reach heaven “someday”, why not hope instead to forever know and grow in that which will help us get there? Hope deferred makes the heart sick after all. The point is that there is no need to wait when it comes to well aimed hope. If our hope is to reach heaven after we die through faith, and we do in fact reach heaven someday, then what more have we to hope for and have faith in? We would already be in the heavenly kingdom. Yet, we are told that faith, hope, and love remain. How can this be if both our faith and hope have been met already? The paradigm shift is this: Instead of having faith in Jesus to get us to heaven, why not have faith in the power of life and love to continually change us into something better, even after reaching the kingdom? Likewise, why not have hope to know life and love more fully and more abundantly than we do today, and every day hereafter? Why not have faith and hope in the greatest among the three? Love is the greatest among the three for a reason. It is the kind of faith and hope you can sink your teeth in, taste, and be filled by. Not just that, but love can lead us to the promised land, both within and as a people. Love my friends, can establish peace on earth and restore our lost Eden. If our hope is to know love more fully day after day, and if we place our faith in love to continually transform us into something better, then our hopes and desires will be fulfilled daily without deference. It begins with self, however. What it comes down to is changing our desires, redirecting our faith, and amending what we hope for. Love ultimately prepares us for the kingdom. We put on this garment of life, this garment of love, which prepares us and makes us acceptable to enter the kingdom itself. Love is what prepares us for the wedding feast (Matthew 22:2-14). In other words, love is the appropriate wedding attire for the wedding feast to which we have all been invited. There is certainly a destination to reach for humanity, but heaven (paradise) is not the end destination for us. The kingdom is merely a point of achievement along the way. The true reward is in the continual communion with God, the coming to know life and love more fully as we move forward. It is about continual progress, continual development, and not merely about a far away destination. Love is never ending, thus when our faith is in the power of love to transform us into something better, we gradually become better people. We become something more perfect than the day before. Likewise, when our hope is to know love more fully than we do today and everyday thereafter, we are better able to grow in that love daily. Solomon tells us that desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Love is the heavenly wisdom of God. Likewise, love is able to transform us, slowly perfecting us as God’s children, ever so gently leading us to paradise. Love is truly the greatest of all things that endure. It is the stuff dreams are made of. Embrace her with all that’s in you. She rests in your hands and in your heart. Forever keep her ways, and not only will you be blessed, but you will become a blessing to others also. Such is the spiritual wisdom of life itself. “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand. in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.” To answer your question directly, NO! I don't talk about religion, but I do talk about love and how it can not only make us better, but also the world we live in. The rest is baggage I'm afraid. Faith, Hope, and Love remain, thus putting these in the proper perspective, we are able to pursue that which is worthy of pursuit, all without getting into religious arguments. Tis how I witness to others .......
  14. I started a new blog last night and though some of you may be interested. It's called, "The Heart of Creation": Reclaiming Paradise. JZM
  15. Jesus says if we had the faith of a grain of mustard seed that we would say to the mountain: "Be ye removed" and it would be removed. We are what we are. We were born to be great! We were born to love! We were born to overcome and live an abundant life! THAT is who WE are and we need to have faith in who WE are. We are not inherently wicked as some believe, nor are we hopeless as a people. We are children of the most high, created to know unsurpassed greatness. We just need ample faith in order to become all we were born to be. What is our purpose and God's will for us? For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. I think this is God's plan of salvation: We are born natural and it is through the testing of life and the things we learn in life, coupled with the Holy Spirit (love) that we ourselves are made perfect or complete 1 Corinthians 15:45-49. It takes some hard knocks in life for us to gain knowledge, and it takes love to lead us home. We are not born carnal or bad, but rather we are born ignorant, which is why we are destroyed. We learn as we grow and live. Jesus did the same. Jesus (the son of man) represents all of us and Jesus (son of God) represents who we become after being reborn of the Holy Spirit (love). Hos 4:6 suggests that we are killed for lack of knowledge. In other words, we are destroyed because we are ignorant. It is ignorance that leads to our destruction and it is love (the Spirit) that leads us to life. God's will is for us to return back to his love as individuals and as a collective people, so we might know peace on earth and good will towards men. Jesus lives in the hearts of those who have been born again. Those who have been born again of the Spirit are his body on earth 1 Corinthians 12:27. It is written that God is love, that Jesus embodied God's fullness, and even as the Father lived in him, so also does he live in us. So, instead of waiting for him to return in hope that he will make everything all better, maybe we should let him rule in us as love, and make the world better ourselves through that love, which is surely God's will for us all. The crux of Jesus' ministry is simple as far as I'm concerned: Love all people (Matt 5:44) do not judge, and forgive others of their trespasses (Luke 6:37). Honor God in Spirit (love) and truth (reality) (John 4:23) and mirror Jesus' life through our own. We are to take no thought of our own lives (Matt 16:24-25) but rather live our lives for our descendants, knowing that they will reap what we have sown for them, just as we are reaping the labors of those who came before us (John 4:36-38). It's about love and self sacrifice so we might fulfill God's will for humanity. It is NOT about SELF, but about every child that will ever be born into this world from this day until the promise is fulfilled (Gen 26:3-5). We do not live for personal reward, yet we are rewarded with immeasurable love and with the knowledge of the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham so many years ago (The blessing of all nations with peace on earth). God's will is that we labor for that end without thought for self, yet being greatly rewarded with fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). JZM
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