Home/ Dave Holt

Retrofit the Fulcrum of Faith

Thursday, May 11, 2017    

I was on my way to Unity in San Leandro to do some music ministry, first time at this church, when I spilled my coffee all over the front seat. Fortunately the java deluge missed drenching my clothes so I didn’t have to drive home to change my shirt. When I asked my angels, “That’s the only bad thing that will happen today, right?” perhaps they were laughing. For sure, they were helping me to laugh about it.

Sunday’s theme at Unity was “power” so the singer had chosen songs to reflect it. What a relief to be talking about spiritual power for a change, rather than the power of money or politics. While I waited in the spring sun for someone to arrive and open up the church, I meditated on the theme, power that comes to assist the believer from the Spirit within.

“Faith is to religion what sails are to a ship; it is an addition of power, not an added burden of life.” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 159:3.8) As Jesus taught, “my yoke is easy, my burden is light (Matthew 11:30).”

I sometimes wish I could help young people in our community who suffer from low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, even being unforgiven for their weaknesses. The culmination of such an inner darkness is depression, perhaps more commonly manic depression. We hope for the chance to tell them about the added power of faith.

I confess to a tendency to the belief, as an adult, that I’ve overcome phases of manic depression that I went through in my own young adult life. When honestly confronting myself, however, I realize there are still times I have to battle the demons back into their corner. One helpful attitude I have learned as a grown-up is to be unafraid to seek help from the indwelling spirit. But too many young people are afraid to look within. We must help them trust the process and pray for an opportunity when it feels right to offer it.

“The winds of grace are always blowing, but you have to raise the sail.” (Ramakrishna)

“When the flood tides of human adversity, selfishness, cruelty, hate, malice, and jealousy beat about the mortal soul, you may rest in the assurance that there is one inner bastion, the citadel of the spirit, which is absolutely unassailable; at least this is true of every human being who has dedicated the keeping of his soul to the indwelling spirit of the eternal God.” (100:2.7)

In my early years of reading The Urantia Book, I made a pledge to follow the instructions Jesus gave to Fortune, The Young Man Who Was Afraid. I learned to “set [my] mind at work to solve its problems; teach [my] intellect to work for [me]; refuse longer to be dominated by fear like an unthinking animal. Your mind should be your courageous ally in the solution of your life problems rather than your being, as you have been, its abject fear-slave and the bond servant of depression and defeat.” (130:6.3) This requires progress in self-mastery as well as faith.

We can gain renewed confidence from prayer, being energized by “divinely creative” power (143:7.5) when we attain worshipful moments in our praying that add the power to transform. The UB compares our acts of faith to the action of a spiritual engine, a load-lifting lever. “In executing those decisions which deliver you from the fetters of fear, you literally supply the psychic fulcrum on which the Adjuster may subsequently apply a spiritual lever of uplifting and advancing illumination.” (108:5.8)

 

“… choosing to do the will of God joins spiritual faith to material decisions in personality action and thus supplies a divine and spiritual fulcrum for the more effective functioning of the human and material leverage of God-hunger.” (110:6.17)

Jesus taught his apostles that such a fulcrum could also be leveraged for social and economic solutions, “Religion is the exclusively spiritual experience of the evolving immortal soul of the God-knowing man, but moral power and spiritual energy are mighty forces which may be utilized in dealing with difficult social situations and in solving intricate economic problems.”(156:5.10)

This kind of faith is given a new term in the Urantia Book, a “power-presence,” as Jesus described it to Fortune, “Begin your deliverance from the evils of inaction by the power-presence of living faith.” (130:6.3)Such a faith as he taught is not passive, nor “a burden.” It is a powerful assault on what can seem like insurmountable problems, a spiritual force for solutions. Sometimes I can’t imagine how I would survive in this world without the added power of faith.

The rest of my Sunday worship at Unity went beautifully and as I’d suspected, nothing else bad happened beyond the coffee stain on my car seat. A Unity service will often quote from one of their founders, Charles Fillmore. About power he states, “Power is man's innate control over his thoughts [and] feelings. A quickening from on high must precede his realization of dominion. "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you" (Acts 1:8). God is All-Power, thus all things are possible with Him.”

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Seeking the Heart of My Soul’s Joy

Monday, March 20, 2017    

I wrote a short essay/story about a community of artists among whom I lived some decades ago, and posted it so the others who were still in touch could read and comment. My piece ended this way, “I was on a quest for beauty and truth in my life. We lived in a surfeit of beauty. Nature was profligate with her bounty of beauty in rural, undeveloped Sonoma County. But what of truth? Was this it? Were we discovering a life to match our dreams, a life closer to our more authentic selves?”

One friend commented on the post, “Who doesn’t want a life to match their dreams? My dream was to be in a community of creative people and the circumstances we all shared attracted people who had a lot to offer. There was a seamlessness between our inner and outer lives that I wanted to keep on feeling.”

During my time in this community, I was in a phase of recovery and rehabilitation; I regained the urge to grow as a person, to make progress in my life. I felt a revival of desire, a zest for life. We were all fortunate to have the support of love and respect from friends.

“Know yourself” was written on the forecourt of the Greek Temple of Apollo at Delphi, in the 6th century BC. It was inscribed there by the seven sages, the founders of Greek philosophy. Jesus extended this Greek watchword to include, “Knowing God and yourself as a son of God,” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 5:4.8) becoming the most real self one can be, close to that divine spark that carries our true purpose.

In further meditations about the most authentic self, I recalled, “When Thought Adjusters indwell human minds, they bring with them the model careers, the ideal lives, as determined and foreordained by themselves and the Personalized Adjusters of Divinington, which have been certified by the Personalized Adjuster of Urantia. Thus they begin work with a definite and predetermined plan for the intellectual and spiritual development of their human subjects, but it is not incumbent upon any human being to accept this plan.” (The UB, 110:2.1)

The Greek way leads to a knowing of one’s psychology, a psychoanalytic understanding of emotions, and the likely acquirement of a philosophy of life. However, it is a knowing that is more static than the dynamic knowledge of sonship, which by experiencing the love of the Father and learning to do his will, we place ourselves on a continuum of progress and growth, not simply an analysis of where we are. In sonship we feel encouragement and support of the purpose for which we were created.

“The highest happiness is indissolubly linked with spiritual progress.”(The UB, 100:4.3)

When I’m not in a place of close communion with the Father, I fall into an old pattern of measuring myself by external factors related to my writing career: how many publishing credits I’ve received, Facebook likes, invitations to read my work?

In the medical building one morning, I waited quite a while for the doctor to show up. I had time to look out the window at a wintry sky and meditate on being a son of God, learning to trust in his guiding presence. Barren trees awaited the budding out of spring. Plain, unadorned birds, possessing no particularly bright colors, flitted from branch to branch, expressing their joy and delight in just being birds, contented with the gift of their natural state, free from fear or anxiety. As I followed their flight, I too enjoyed my soul at rest in a renewed friendship with God, and was thankful for the blessing of old friends still in my life.

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Ascension—Where To Now St. Peter?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017    

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Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2017    

People have frequently asked us how we, Chappell and I, have done it. How have we stayed together over 39 years. It’s been difficult to give a short answer. Or we find ourselves speechless. On our 25th anniversary, with the help of many friends, we put on a large party at Larry Geis’s house in Sebastopol to celebrate the enduring love in our relationship. For the ceremony part, we put together some true quotes about the great bestowal of love, the powerful circuit that upholds this planet, the Great Circle. Here, with some new additions, is a long answer:

“Love is a striving, a seeking for that which is higher and greater than oneself.” (Plato, in Needleman’s The Heart of Philosophy)

“When I speak of love, I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“More handsome men might promise
To verb your noun or noun your verb,

But wife, for you, every Wednesday night,
I’ll drag the garbage to the curb…” (From Sherman Alexie, Marriage Song)

“Love is the outworking of the divine and inner urge of life.” (Jesus, The Urantia Book, p. 1898; 174:1.5)

“Love is the ancestor of all spiritual goodness, the essence of the true and beautiful.”

(Jesus to John, The Urantia Book, p. 1950; 192:2.1)

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments; Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove: O, no, it is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken; it is the star to every wandering bark, whose worth’s unknown, although his highth be taken. Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle’s compass come; love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon my proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”

(Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare)

From the Truth, Beauty and Goodness paper (Urantia Book, p. 646; 56:10.19)

“…truth, beauty, and goodness embrace the full revelation of divinity reality. As this love-comprehension of Deity finds spiritual expression in the lives of God-knowing mortals, there are yielded the fruits of divinity: intellectual peace, social progress, moral satisfaction, spiritual joy, and cosmic wisdom. Advanced mortals … have learned that love is the greatest thing in the universe--and they know that God is love.”

“Love is the desire to do good to others.” (A Mighty Messenger, The UB, 56:10.21)

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor—

Bare.

But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps

’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now—

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. (Mother to Son, Langston Hughes)

“You are destined to live a narrow and mean life if you learn to love only those who love you. Human love may indeed be reciprocal, but divine love is outgoing in all its satisfaction-seeking. The less of love in any creature's nature, the greater the love need, and the more does divine love seek to satisfy such need. Love is never self-seeking, and it cannot be self-bestowed. Divine love cannot be self-contained; it must be unselfishly bestowed.” (Jesus teaching at Tyre, The UB, 156:5.11)

Chappell and I together have lived with the challenges and ideals of love as a goal and we’ve helped each other to grow towards and with them.

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Is the Universe Friendly?

Sunday, January 29, 2017    

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Healing the Wounds to One’s Self-Esteem

Saturday, January 07, 2017    

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Dreams, Celestial Messengers, and the Light of Life

Friday, December 23, 2016    

I think many of us believe we’re guided by our dreams at times. A few days before the death of my mother last year, I had what I called a healing dream, an affirmation of the journey of the soul to the next worlds. “My soul sings the song I received, as it flies down to the broad calm sea, dotted with white sails, boats on brave journeys, sailing to a glimpsed peace on the far horizon.”

In The Urantia Book (The UB), several dreams are accredited to the traditional Biblical Christmas story. A purpose of The UB is sometimes to sort, evaluate, and adjust accepted history, to present us a coherent picture of the nature of reality. Its version of the birth of Jesus makes several new adjustments to the received myth.

“At the noontide birth [August 21, 7 B.C.] of Jesus the seraphim of Urantia, assembled under their directors, did sing anthems of glory over the Bethlehem manger, but these utterances of praise were not heard by human ears. No shepherds nor any other mortal creatures came to pay homage to the babe of Bethlehem until the day of the arrival of certain priests from Ur, who were sent down from Jerusalem by Zacharias [father of John the Baptist].” (122:8.5)

How did these priests, known as the Magi (Persian astrologers), come to learn of the advent of Jesus? What inspired their month-long caravan journey to Jerusalem? It was a contact with an unnamed spiritual teacher, “These priests from Mesopotamia had been told sometime before by a strange religious teacher of their country that he had had a dream in which he was informed that "the light of life" was about to appear on earth as a babe and among the Jews. And thither went these three teachers looking for this "light of life.” (122:8.6)

Such dreams, harbingers of Michael’s bestowal, occur several times in the narrative. Zacharias, the father of John, later to become “the Baptist,” learned about Jesus in a dream. “It was not until about six weeks before John’s birth that Zacharias, as the result of an impressive dream, became fully convinced that Elizabeth was to become the mother of a son of destiny, one who was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.” (122:2.5)

Notice that he views the birth through the lens of Jewish tradition, “the long-expected Messiah,” (122:4.2) a role Jesus later disavowed. Dreams do not necessarily give accurate information.

In Joseph’s dream, we come upon a significant detail: he is told by a celestial messenger. “Joseph did not become reconciled to the idea that Mary was to become the mother of an extraordinary child until after he had experienced a very impressive dream. In this dream a brilliant celestial messenger appeared to him…” (122:4.1)

The “angel” Gabriel’s appearances to Elizabeth and Mary are described as supernatural. Why not the vivid dreams of Joseph and Zacharias? They seem so much more than dreams, more like divine visitations. The UB is normally cautionary about the “great danger in all these psychic speculations” (100:5.6) about dream life.

The term “supernatural event” is used to describe the contact of the seraphim through midwayers. "Certain wise men of earth knew of Michael’s impending arrival. Through the contacts of one world with another, these wise men of spiritual insight learned of the forthcoming bestowal of Michael on Urantia. And the seraphim did, through the midway creatures, make announcement to a group of Chaldean priests whose leader was Ardnon. These men of God visited the newborn child in the manger. The only supernatural event associated with the birth of Jesus was this announcement to Ardnon and his associates by the seraphim of former attachment to Adam and Eve in the first garden." (119:7.6)

Many have puzzled over this paragraph and its strong implication that there were more “wise men of earth” who learned of the Creator Son’s birth/bestowal, more than just the famous Persian star-followers.

Urantian author, Merritt Horn, once asked the question, “If the seraphim’s announcement to the priests was ‘the only supernatural event associated with the birth of Jesus,’ then to what does the phrase in the very same paragraph, ‘through the contacts of one world with another’ refer?”

Are contacts that don’t involve appearances by Gabriel or midwayers more normal in some way? By inference then, the dreams that Joseph, Zacharias, and “the strange religious teacher” had are a more natural means of communication, not considered supernatural per The UB.

Perhaps quite a few wise men experienced dream contacts. But only Ardnon and his fellows had direct seraphic contact, as if the seraphim had discovered men of action and, through direct confrontation, decided to more strongly encourage the “wise men” to make their pilgrimage.

Scientists have offered different versions of what the astronomical event, the Star of Bethlehem, probably was. One theory coincides with The UB’s date: the “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn between May and December of 7 B.C. http://www.space.com/14036-christmas-star-bethlehem-comet-planet-theories.html

It was three weeks after Jesus’ birth that, “they came bearing gifts,” to Mary (Matthew 2:1-12).

“These wise men saw no star to guide them to Bethlehem. The beautiful legend of the star of Bethlehem originated in this way: Jesus was born August 21 at noon, 7 B.C. On May 29, 7 B.C., there occurred an extraordinary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces.” (122:8.7)

May the light of the gospel, given by our great master-teacher, shine brightly as that star in our lives in the coming year.

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Jesus Teaching in Solomon’s Porch

Monday, December 12, 2016    

For his judgment hall, the wise King Solomon had constructed a large chamber 50 cubits long and 30 cubits wide attached to the original temple (a cubit is the length of a forearm, 20 to 21 inches). The enormous portico in front was built of cedar “of the forest of Lebanon,” (I Kings 7) and was known as “the porch of judgment,” then in Jesus's time as “Solomon’s porch.” The historian Josephus Flavius (War of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 5) described it as an area of the original temple that survived the attack of the Babylonians in 586 B. C., four hundred years later, who left it standing because of its immense size and beauty.

Here the doctors of the law met to hear and answer questions. Jesus also taught in the outer court where non-Jews could gather and listen to his words. The Urantia Book (The UB) tells us Jesus spoke there several times. “Although his disciples had not expected Jesus to attend the feast, the vast majority of the pilgrims from afar who had heard of him entertained the hope that they might see him at Jerusalem. And they were not disappointed, for on several occasions he taught in Solomon’s Porch and elsewhere in the temple courts. These teachings were really the official or formal announcement of the divinity of Jesus to the Jewish people and to the whole world.” (The UB, 162:1.9)

One of the speeches that Jesus made there, recorded in John, Chapter 7, is greatly expanded in The UB account. In Paper 162, we can read not one, but three sermons, or discourses that he gave during this same Feast of the Tabernacles (Sukkot). They are the “Sermon on the Light of the World” (sec. 5); the “Discourse on the Water of Life” (sec. 6); and the “Discourse on Spiritual Freedom” (sec. 7):

"If my words abide in you and you are minded to do the will of my Father, then are you truly my disciples. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. I know how you will answer me: We are the children of Abraham, and we are in bondage to none; how then shall we be made free? Even so, I do not speak of outward subjection to another’s rule; I refer to the liberties of the soul.” (162:7.2)

"I know that you are Abraham’s seed, yet your leaders seek to kill me because my word has not been allowed to have its transforming influence in their hearts. Their souls are sealed by prejudice and blinded by the pride of revenge.” (162:7.3)

“Now … at my side [a scribe] asks … Who do you claim to be that you dare to utter such blasphemies?' And I say to all such that, if I glorify myself, my glory is as nothing. But it is the Father who shall glorify me, even the same Father whom you call God. But you have failed to know this your God and my Father, and I have come to bring you together; to show you how to become truly the sons of God. Though you know not the Father, I truly know him.” (162:7.5)

In John 10:22, the Biblical record shows that he spoke again in Solomon’s porch at the Feast of Dedication. Some of what is written of this event in the Bible actually took place at the earlier Feast of the Tabernacles according to The UB.

Whereas at the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jesus proclaimed the gospel to pilgrims from all over the Roman Empire, his purpose this time was to speak to the Sanhedrin. Two of the apostles who accompanied him on this “secret” mission, Thomas and Nathaniel, raised anxious objections to his going into Jerusalem. He replied, "I would give these teachers in Israel another opportunity to see the light, before my hour comes." (164:0.2) Though the most striking event of this occasion, the healing of Josiah the blind beggar (a story that occupies most of Paper 164), had important consequences, the truly major address he gave was at the home of Nicodemus; “Here were gathered together some twenty-five Jewish leaders who believed Jesus' teaching. (164:2.1)

“When this little meeting broke up, all went away mystified by the Master’s personality, charmed by his gracious manner, and in love with the man.” (164:2.3)

Sources used: http://www.bible-history.com/backd2/solomons_porch.html

https://insolomonsporch.com/why-in-solomons-porch/

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