Hosea and Knowing God

I woke up at like 5 am this morning and pulled out my new Study Bible I just bought, the NLT Study Bible.  What a great Bible!  I had the hard cover version of this, but haven’t been able to find it since I moved back in October, so I decided to buy a nice one, with a fancy leather cover, which I did the other night.  Great Bible! And like I said, this morning I woke up early and decided to open up the Bible.  I don’t know why I chose Hosea, other than the fact that I really like the first two chapters.  But I had never really read much past that.  Well something this morning prompted me to read the whole book, and so I did, highlighter in hand.

Now the first part is when God is talking to Hosea, telling him to marry a prostitute.  She may have been a real out and out prostitute, or she may have been a temple prostitute, we aren’t sure.  I like to think she was a temple prostitute, but that’s just me.  So God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute, which he does, Gomer.  (What a name, huh?  Yes, that’s her name, GOMER.)  And soon after she starts popping babies out, and God tells Hosea to name them this and that, illustrating how God feels about the state of his people,  the Israelites.  Then we get into the second chapter, my favorite chapter.

In the second chapter God says, through Hosea, “to bring charges against your mother” for “she is not my wife” and “I am not her husband!”  Wow, when I first read that, it made me shiver, cuz I had always been taught that even though Israel was “unfaithful”, God was always there, like a loving father.  But Hosea shows us a different side to this relationship.  In it, God is mad at His people, the Israelites, because they have been acting like prostitutes, and worshipping other deities and idols.  Baal was the culprit, the god of the Canaanites.  So God is mad, and basically says “Your mother, Israel, has been a whore, worshipping other gods and getting all dressed up and celebrating his festivals and attributing all the grain and new wine and beautiful material blessings to another god, Baal.  Not my wifey poo!”  Ouch.  And just when you think God has had enough and is going to serve Israel a bill of divorce, he does something so tender and so sweet…oh, it touches my heart.

He says, “But then I will win her back once again.  I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.  I will return hr vineyards to her…She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.”   Astonishing how tender that passage is!  The Lord is PISSED, stripping his whore wife naked, taking away all his gifts, exposing her shame to the public, but then what?  He calms down and says, “I will win her back once again…speak tenderly to her.”  How precious is that!  My husband is the most powerful entity the universe has ever known, and He was pissed at me, but still, He loves me, doesn’t want to let me go, will woo and win me again.  Wow.

He goes on, “When that day comes…you will call me ‘my husband’ and not ‘my master.'” (The Israelites used to call Baal “my master”.  The notes on this passage are beautiful.  It says by calling the Lord “my husband” we change the nature of our relationship with him from one of subservience to one of partnership and companionship.  I thought that was so beautiful!

So why does Israel whore herself out in the first place?  The Study Bible explains this…because they don’t “KNOW God.”  To know Him personally and experientially, not just in name, or to know OF Him, but to have a living experience of Him, to be in a personal relationship with Him.  Knowledge was centered in personal relationships, not just in hearing of someone or having met them a few times.  This is so applicable to us today, in our world!  Sure, how many of us read the Bible, go to church, give to charity, say a few prayers throughout the week, but don’t really KNOW God?  What are we missing?  How do we get that EXPERIENCE of Him, to KNOW Him and His awesome love, His awesome power?

That, folks, is exactly what I’m trying to do.  To learn to KNOW Him in that personal way.  You know, lots of people talk about having a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” that after they accept Him as their Lord and Savior, they begin this personal relationship with him.  And that’s exactly what I’m aiming to do with God Himself.  To KNOW the experience of being in a relationship with Him, to get to know Him in that way.

Because I am “half Muslim”, I’m not focusing on Jesus Christ, although I do believe, I know for a fact by the testimonies of so many others, that it is possible to have a relationship with Jesus, but that’s not what I’m striving for.  I want a relationship with God, the Creator.  Sometimes I see Him as Yahweh, sometimes as Allah (glorified may He be,) and other times he is just “God” to me.  The Quran says whatever name we choose to call Him, His are the most beautiful names, and I wholeheartedly agree.  *I* know Who I’m talking about, and I’m betting HE knows it too.  I believe in only ONE CREATOR, and that is Who I’m striving for a relationship with.

The thing that is different about this time reading Hosea, is that I read it all the way through, and even the notes.  I’m glad I did, because it mentions a couple points that I’d like to blog about.

In chapter 6, verse 6 it says, “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burn offerings.”  HE wants us to KNOW HIM!  Wow, is that amazing or what?  More than burnt offerings, or ritual offerings, more than just going through the motions.  He wants us to EXPERIENCE Him.  Above, in verse 3 it says, “Oh that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him.  He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn, or the coming of rains in early spring.”  If we “press on to know Him,” He will “respond to us.”  We must make the move forward, to open ourselves to Him, to talk to Him and tell Him we desire an experience of Him.  Not just lip service, “Oh sure, of course I pray, go to church, tithe, etc.”  But “Lord, I want to know you by EXPERIENCE.  I want a real and living EXPERIENCE of You.  The Scriptures says you will surely respond, therefore I call to You, respond to me so that I may KNOW You.  Amen.”  And then look for Him.  When it’s dark, and we know that it’s morning and it’s going to get light, we ANTICIPATE the dawn.  In the same manner let us ANTICIPATE the Lord’s response to us, and look for it.  He will respond, as sure as the dawn.

In chapter 9 verse 10 it says, “The Lord says,’O Israel, when I first found you, it was like finding fresh grapes in the desert.'”  Beautiful!  We delighted Him!  Let us continue to make choices that refresh His love and response to us.

I’ll wrap this up by commenting on Chapter 14, which is so beautiful and ends the book.  It’s a call to return to the Lord, to confess our sins and return to Him.  Stop settling for knowledge OF Him to being satisfied with EXPERIENCING Him.  Chapter 14 says He will heal us of our faithlessness.  He will provide the healing, we must simply desire to know Him, to experience His incredible love as a faithful spouse.  Return to Him, not tomorrow, not later, but now.  “I am here Lord, I desire to confess to you my infidelity.  Accept my love and confession and know that I desire to KNOW You.  Manifest Your love to me, respond to me, as sure as the dawn.  I look for You, everywhere.  Amen.”

Back to the Qur’an

I don’t know why I stray.  No other book can do it for me like the Qur’an.  I will say, however, that I’m more of a “Qur’anist” than a “traditional”  Muslim.  I think the Hadith have the potential to be evil, especially when one gets hung up about which side to sleep on, or which foot to exit the bathroom with, that sort of thing.  God says in the Qur’an, “I desire ease for you, not hardship.”  (No, I don’t remember where I read this so I can’t give the Surah and Ayat.)  But this is true.  The Qur’an is easy and to me, the Hadith make things very hard.  I used to worry every time I entered the bathroom, and memorized the du’a that seeks refuge with God from the male and female noxious spirits.  That really got me!  And how many times a day do I use the restroom?  When I was more “traditional”  and tried following the Sunnah, it gave me anxiety all the time.  Always worried I wasn’t “doing it right”, and I experienced enough of that with the Catholic Church!  Always worried that I wasn’t praying perfectly, and so my prayer was invalid and not accepted because of some minor flaw.  Well, no more!  It was with the prayer bit that I had to stop and really think.  Does God accept my prayer?  I had to think that He does.  Does He accept my prayer even if I don’t know the exact meaning of the Arabic I am reciting?  Well, yes He does, but I was betting that He would rather know what I was praying, rather than just praying without any meaning behind it.  Did he accept my prayer if I wasn’t wearing proper hijab (covering the whole body but for the face and the hands)?  Hmm…wellllll….oh geez, OF COURSE He does!  He accepted my prayers when I was Catholic and wasn’t all covered up!  He accepts the prayers of millions of women who aren’t covered up!  And it DOES NOT say anything about the hijab and praying in the Qur’an.  I knew that if it was that big of a deal, that it was so important that we couldn’t overlook the issue, that God would have been very specific in the Qur’an that women are to be Islamically covered with only the face and hands showing while in prayer.  So!  I let the issue of hijab go, even when I pray.  Do you know how FREEING that has been for me?

   (I could go into the issue of wudu in the Qur’an, and how “traditional Islam” makes wudu, but I won’t.  I’ll save that for another post.)

     So I was all sad recently, I felt like God had abandoned me and that I was destined to sink into the abyss of nothingness–no faith, no hope, no love.  It was truly a spiritual depression.  And then, what did I do?  What did I reach for?  I brought out the Qur’an, and began to read…

     I had not even read for 10 verses (ayats) in the second Chapter, al Baqarah, when my eyes overflowed with tears and I raised my heart to God in prayer, thanking Him for the Qur’an and for my faith.  I know I can never be Catholic again–and it’s been that way for a while now, since it began in 2002–but I know with all my heart that I can always be Muslim.  

     Will I be accepted with the Muslim community here in the city?  Dunno…I’m sure some of them would call me a “bad Muslim” or “disbeliever” if I reject the Sunnah (the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace.)  I have often thought of attending the Friday prayer just to reach out to others…but I haven’t yet.  Maybe in the future.  Right now I’m just glad to be led back to reading the Qur’an.  Why do I continue to put the book down when I know that when I do, I get lost in disbelief and doubt and worry?  Why do I continue to abandon God’s Criterion?  Why do I lay the book aside then spend so much time worrying about if God is near to me or not?  I put down the Qur’an, the next thing you know I stop praying, then I start to lose my handle on spirituality and down down down I go, into the pit of despair and despondency of doubt and unbelief.  I do NOT like the way that feels!  

     No more!  I will keep a firm grip on Umm al Kitab (Mother of all Books, the Qur’an.)  I will look to it when I am feeling down, and look to it when I am feeling up!  Whatever the other Muslims would classify me as, so be it.  I am not too much worried about their opinions of me, as long as I am praying and reading the Qur’an.  Then I know I am on the Straight Path, serving my Lord, my Rabb, my Allah, the Greatest!

Welcome to my Urantia Studies blog (address below)

The website for the new blog is urantiandn.wordpress.com  Since I’m new to blogging and to using WordPress, I hope this gets you there!

As I mentioned on my “About” page on the new blog, the Urantia Book is a giant book of close to 2,000 pages, Uversa Press edition, and 2,097 pages, Urantia Foundation edition.  I will be referencing the Uversa Press edition because I believe it’s easier to find quotes and material with that edition.  Not to mention the index in the Uversa Press edition in invaluable to topical studies.  We will be using the index to facilitate our studies.

Our first topic of study will be one of the most astounding teachings of the Urantia Book: the Thought Adjusters.  I started this study in a notebook, but decided that everyone could benefit from my studies, and decided to make a blog to facilitate that.  From the Thought Adjuster topic we may move on to faith, and then possibly to worship.  If you don’t have a Urantia book handy, I will be quoting extensively from the book, and it’s also available online at http://www.urantiabook.org, and also at http://www.urantia.org.  I believe http://www.truthbook.org also has an online copy, along with a few other places on the web that you can find it.  But I will do my best to quote from the book, so if you don’t have a copy available, you can still follow along.

One year later

So it’s been almost one year exactly since my last entry in this blog, the last entry being on January 17th and now it being early in the morning of January 6th. And what progress have I made in faith, especially a personal experience of faith?
     Well for starters I put down the Book of Mormon, but not before I had some LDS sisters come visit me at my house on Bannock and explain their idea of faith and salvation.  Eh…it was fascinating, but not for me. They came for a good few months and gave me lessons. I very much enjoyed having them over, but in the end I declined going to their worship services and ultimately declined their offer of baptism. And so, that being that, my lessons with them ended and I eventually quit reading the Book of Mormon.
     I continued to pray as a Muslim and did find it rewarding, but eventually left that off as well. Then I  would read the Qur’an and pick it back up again. And so I am still praying as a Muslim, here and there, although not strictly 5 times a day, and I no longer feel guilty if I don’t pray everyday all day.  For a while I enrolled in some free classes given by Islamic Online University,  but in the end found that interpretation of Islam too constricting, and left that off. But I spent hours reading the Qur’an,  and enjoyed that very very much. I still read the Qur’an, and love it, although I don’t believe in a God who is going to send the disbelievers to eternal Hellfire for not being Muslim.  Thats not the God I choose to worship. I learned to mark up my Qur’an like I would a Bible, and quit being afraid if I didn’t become or practice a normal traditional Islam. I stopped guilting myself if I didn’t wear hijab, but instead decided to wear my own version of hijab, and now I love to cover my head and do so a little more than half the time. I have also told myself thats it’s okay if I pray in English,  which had been a big stumbling block in my faith and practice.
     But the biggest and most wonderful update has been my picking back up the Urantia Book and really reading it and getting into it and discovering what it says. And like the quotes I posted a whole year ago, I have found a personal living faith that I can live with, and a greatly enlargened concept of God and the cosmos that we live in. One of the most astounding concepts has been the discovery of the Thought Adjusters, a concept unique to the Urantia Book. I have started a study on the Urantia Book, some of which I will publish on this site. I have found the Urantia Book incredibly satisfying, and am hungry for more I have been reading it daily and not being shy to highlight and underline the parts that I feel teach , e something and which speak to me. I find something beautiful and new on almost every page, and it tastes so good.

Qur’an and a personal experience of faith

I have to say that, despite reading this book, and that Scripture, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE QUR’AN!  I almost can’t help myself.  I love reading it.  I brings me such peace.  Am I Muslim in my heart?  I think so, as submitting as I can be.  Taking what I’ve learned recently about the personal experience of religion, I would say I am a submitter of many colors.  And taking what was said about faith being personal, I would say that my faith is absolutely a personal experience, one that no one else has had, or will have.  I love all the Scriptures…the Urantia Book, the Psalms, the Gospels, the Qur’an, the Book of Mormon.  I love all of them!

So my faith is a personal experience, and I am still seeking, still finding, still discovering the delicious mystery that is GOD!

The Urantia Book

It’s been a long time since I’ve read the Urantia Book (UB).  But something inspired me to pick it up a few days ago, and start reading.  At first it was sort of tough going, because I didn’t have a clear idea of anything I had read before…I think the last time I read it sincerely was 2008 or 2009.  Certainly I hadn’t picked it up since at least January of 2010, and before that.  So I have forgotten a lot of what I read.  Anyway, it was sort of slow going, and I was hearing a lot of conflict in my head about it, but I chose to ignore it.  I decided to begin where I left off in Part IV with the life of Jesus.  Well, last night I came across this quote:

“This sermon was an effort on Jesus’ part to make clear the fact that religion is a personal experience.”

Then later on last night before I went to bed, I read this:

Jesus did not cling to faith in God as would a struggling soul at war with the universe and at death grips with a hostile and sinful world; he did not resort to faith merely as a consolation in the midst of difficulties or as a comfort in threatened despair; faith was not just an illusory compensation for the unpleasant realities and the sorrows of living.”

It goes on to say that Jesus’ faith was a living reality, and that his God is a living reality, and that he never prayed as a religious duty, or because it was prescribed, or because he was expected to.  I thought that astonishing, because I’ve learned to pray not only because I enjoy it, but because it’s expected of me.  All religions tell you to pray, and so we should.  Shouldn’t we?!

I want this living faith that Jesus had.  I also thought of what it meant to be a daughter of God.  A real daughter of God, the great Father in Heaven?  I don’t HAVE to bow down, or say a set formula of prayers each day?  I don’t have to appease, or wheedle by being good (but of course I love trying to be good)?  What exactly does that LOOK like?

Well, I shall continue reading the UB.  I am liking it.

Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said? If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.

1 Nephi 15:11

Something happened last night where all of a sudden I had been praying Muslim-style, and then I got hungry for Jesus, and opened up the Book of Mormon (!–can you believe it, me?) and started reading.  This was the first quote that I underlined in this book.  (I bought the book just that day at the thrift store.)  I want SO BADLY to know which church is the true church (kind of like Joseph Smith) and I am praying for that.  I want to love Jesus and to pray to Jesus…certainly I don’t want to anger him if I am praying Muslim-style and reading the Qur’an…but I have to know which is the real church to join.  My entities say it doesn’t matter which church, as long as it has Jesus Christ as it’s center.  I suppose that’s true.  Well, I don’t know actually.  I am just as lost as ever.  I know I probably won’t be Catholic again, but Mormon?  Hmmm…