2 Corinthians 9 – God Loveth a Cheerful Giver & God Loves a Cheerful Giver

Sometimes we can be extremely selfish, thinking that we don’t have enough to give. Or our ego, especially men, gets the best of us and we think only of our own needs.

You never think of Yourself first, You always think of us and that is what Jesus did when He was here.  He set an example for us to follow.  

It’s a shame that the rich are unable to see that, instead they think that they have given enough or they need more.

For example, Bill Gates has given  billions away, but he has given it to his own Foundation which appears to help a lot of people to education, but not everyone is accepted. 

He says he’s going to donate his 58 billion to charity when he dies, rather than his children – why can’t he do it now?

You’ve got to care for yourself.

Oprah Winfrey gives away approximately $200 million a year.  With most people that is a lot of money, but she’s worth 2.9 billion and $200 million isn’t but a hiccup. 

Oprah says that we don’t need Jesus to get to heaven,  is it her wealth that makes her say that?  Is it because she doesn’t want to give her money away?  Like the story in Matthews:

“And, behold, one came and said unto him [Jesus], Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

…There is none good but one that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

He saith unto him, Which?  Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness,

Honor thy father and thy mother: and, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou has, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

But when the young man heard that saying he went away sorrowful: for he had great possession

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matt 19:16-24).

Oprah and many others is that young man.  It isn’t the giving that matters, but the heart’s desire to give.  The last commandment Jesus quoted is the one the young man failed at.

I am happy that I am not wealthy, or at least not at this time.  If I would have been I may be an Oprah, but since I found Jesus first if I had the wealth now I would do fine because I would spend to help the poor.

We have talked about greedy, selfishness, false teachers/prophets, so staying in there arena tomorrow we’ll look at…

2 Corinthians 9
God Loveth a Cheerful Giver

1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:

2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:

4 Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

See Lk 6:38.

8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

“Always having all sufficiency in all things” – through His abounding grace, God can enable each Christian to abound in generous need – see Deut 8:18.

9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth forever.

10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

11 Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

“The exceeding grace of God in you” – displayed in this unselfish demonstration of their loving concern for fellow believers who are in desperate need.

15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

“Unspeakable gift” – God’s own Son (Jn 3:16).  God is the first and the greatest giver; He first selflessly gives Himself to us in the person of Jesus, and all true Christian giving is our response of gratitude for this gift that is beyond description (cf. 8:9; 1 Jn 4:9-11).

God Loves a Cheerful Giver

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

This verse single-handedly sums up the reason Christians are to give. We are to give because…God loves a cheerful giver. When Christians freely give, with a gracious heart, we please God.

God is a cheerful giver and He loves when His children follow in his footsteps. Think about the many blessings God has so richly bestowed on you. He doesn’t bless us because he has to or because he feels obligated to. He gives to us, because He loves us.

In Romans it says,

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”(8:32).

From each breath you take, to the house you live in. From your job, to your children, to your ability to read and write, God has graciously given you all that you have, and the ability to do all that you can do.

There is nothing given to you that does not flow from the hand of God.

Meditate on his many blessings. Think about the cross, and the suffering that was endured for your sake. Know this of God, he is a gracious God, and he calls us to be gracious as well.

He calls us to be cheerful givers, and to freely give to others, as he has done so with us.

When we begin to catch a glimpse of the graciousness bestowed on us as sinners, how can we not desire to please God?

How can we not desire to be cheerful givers, and share some of what has so graciously been given to us?

If you love the Lord, strive to be a cheerful giver. Don’t hold back when it comes to giving.

Whatever we give to the Lord, He wants us to give it out of a willing heart, as a child does.
God does not want us to give grudgingly.

In Psalms we read:

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Ps 84:11).

…early Christian heresies.

2 Corinthians 8 – The Giving of the Macedonians & Lost Cities of the Americas: Cahokia (1 of 7)

It’s obvious that Columbus was not the first person here, not even close, but You knew that because You have always been.

There are six more Lost Cities of the Americas in this study, and we’ll look at them another time.

The following chapter is about Giving and in Chapter Nine we’ll look at an article about how You love a…

2 Corinthians 8
The Giving of the Macedonians

1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

8:1-9:15 – Paul addresses the question of the collection of money for the distressed Christians in Jerusalem, which the Corinthians had started by not completed.

“Grace” – the grace of giving on the part of believers is more than matched by the self-giving “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 

“Abundance of their joy” – in the blessings of the gospel.

3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

4 Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

“First gave their own selves to the Lord” – the true principle of all Christian giving.  These Macedonian Christians are an amazing example to the Corinthian believers and to the church in every age of the dynamic that God’s grace makes in the lives and attitudes of His people – a central theme of this letter.

6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

7 Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

“I speak not by commandment” – true charity and generosity cannot be commanded, God doesn’t even command it, but as you will see in the next chapter, He does love a cheerful giver.

“Sincerity of their love” – they can prove this by giving selflessly and spontaneously.

9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

“Though he was rich…He became poor” – the eternal Son, in His incarnation and His atoning death in our place on the cross, emptied Himself of His riches (see Phil 2:7).

“Through his poverty might be rich” – the supreme and inescapable incentive of all genuine Christian generosity.

10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.

11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.

12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

“According to that a man hath” – what matters is the willingness, which is the motive of true generosity, no matter how small the amount that can be afforded.  An outstanding example of one who put this principle into practice is the poor widow (Mk 12:41).

The above scripture is not understood by most, if not all, of the wealthy, such as Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg.  They can’t comprehend it due to their own selfishness and greed.

13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:

14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack. 

16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.

17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.

18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;

19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:

20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:

It is important not only that God sees but also that people see that one is carrying on the Lord’s work in a properly, ethical and honest manner.

21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

22 And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.

23 Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

Lost Cities of the Americas (1 of 7)

Tamarois et Caouquias appears on a map of Illinois in 1718 (approximate modern state area highlighted) from Carte de la Louisiane et du Cours du Mississipi by Guillaume de L’Isle.

Cahokia

Location: Collinsville, Illinois, Nr St Louis, Missouri, USA
Date Of Construction: C 1050 C.E.
Abandoned: C 1350 C.E.
Built By: Mississippian Culture
Key Features: Mounds; Monks Mound; Grand Plaza; Woodhenge; Palisade

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site /kəˈhoʊkiə/ (11 MS 2) is located on the site of an ancient Native American city (c. 600–1400 CE) situated directly across the Mississippi River from modern St. Louis, Missouri.

This historic park lies in southern Illinois between East St. Louis and Collinsville.

The park covers 2,200 acres (890 ha), or about 3.5 square miles, and contains about 80 mounds, but the ancient city was actually much larger.

In its heyday, Cahokia covered about six square miles and included about 120 man-made earthen mounds in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and functions.

In the center of the American Midwest a collection of manmade mounds mark the site of North America’s greatest pre-Columbian city and the center of a lost civilization ignored by generations of Americans.

Huge earthworks and vast landscaped plazas testify to the existence of a well-organized and sophisticated society, but its legacy seems to have vanished almost without a trace.

On the Mississippi floodplains of Illinois, across the river from St Louis, Missouri, lies the World Heritage Site of Cahokia Mounds.

This Illinois State Historic Site encompasses some 70 mounds, including the enormous Monks Mound, which has a base larger than that of the Great Pyramid at Giza, but there were originally around 120 in the lost city.

The site today covers around 890 hectares (2,200 acres), but in its heyday, around 1100 CE, the city had an area of 1,619 hectares (4,000 acres) and a population that may have numbered as many as 10,000-20,000 people.

It was larger than any contemporary city in Europe and not until the 19th century did any city in the New World north of Mexico surpass this.

Cahokia was the apogee of the Mississippian culture (the Cahokian culture), which developed in and around the floodplain known as the American Bottom towards the end of the 1st millennium CE.

But because it was preliterate and collapsed several centuries before the arrival of Europeans, this civilization, and particularly Cahokia itself, remains shrouded in mystery.

It is not known what the inhabitants of the city called it – Cahokia is the name given to the site by local historians who wanted to honor one of the subtribes of the llliniwek (Illinois) Indians who only arrived in the area in the 1600s – nor is it known who they were or what language they spoke.

The ancient civilization at Cahokia took advantage of the nearby

waterways and the rich soil to sustain life in the American Bottom.

While it is known that the city appeared almost within a generation, it is not known exactly why this remarkable development occurred nor why it was subsequently abandoned.

Were the tribes that lived in the area when the Europeans arrived the descendants of the Mississippians? To what extent can the legacy of this vanished civilization be traced?

Overnight Sensation

The American Bottom offers rich arable land that could be cultivated even without heavy ploughs, and Neolithic peoples there grew crops such as sunflowers and squashes.

In the 1st millennium CE the cultivation of corn spread north from Mesoamerica, triggering population growth and the emergence of the formative stages of a recognizable Mississippian culture a little before 1000 CE, evidenced by specific decorative styles on pottery and consistent use of a common set of religious symbols, such as a winged ‘bird-man’, on pottery, copper and stone artefacts.

A Gourd with “Winged Bird-Man” on it.

The Mississippians lived in villages, but as the population density increased a critical mass was reached until, in around 1050 CE, the city at Cahokia sprang into existence over a relatively short time, in what some archaeologists have described as a ‘big bang’ moment.

From its center at Cahokia, Mississippian culture spread its influence over much of the upper Midwest, leaving traces from the present day Canadian border to the Gulf Coast.

The adoption of a core set of practices and styles appears to indicate that people all across this area shared a cosmology and related religious system and Cahokia has been described as the Vatican or Mecca of this system.

Cahokia was the ultimate embodiment of the characteristics that mark out the Mississippian culture, including large communal plazas; massive mounds, especially flat-topped ones; wooden palisades; characteristic styles and motifs on pottery etc.; the game of chungke (see below) and the practice of human sacrifice.

Although there is evidence of these “traits” from other Mississippian sites, at Cahokia they were present on a far grander scale than anywhere else.

Chungke

Plazas were probably used for feasts and ceremonies and may also have been used for playing chungke, a game still practiced by Native Americans today.

White settlers eventually made their way to the American Bottom and founded the town of Kaskaskia.

It involves a stone disc, which is rolled down the center of a court, while the players throw javelin-like sticks, either to knock over the disc or to see who can land nearest to where it comes to a halt.

In historical times players were known to wager all their worldly goods, down to the shirts off their backs, on the game of chungke.

In Mound 72 at Cahokia, 15 chungke stones were found as part of a tribute cache to an early Cahokia leader.

City of Mounds and Plazas

The most obvious features of Cahokia are the mounds and the Grand Plaza. Mounds at Cahokia came in three main types; each one probably served a different function.

Chungke Stone

Platform or flat-topped mounds, such as Monks, usually had buildings on top of them. Cone-shaped or round-topped mounds were used for burials, while ridge-topped mounds may have served as landmarks or boundary markers, and also appear to have had mortuary functions.

The greatest mound – known as Monks Mounds because in 1811 when it was first described by an antiquarian there was a community of Trappist monks living nearby – is over 30 meters (981/2 feet) high with a base measuring approximately 300 x 240 meters (984 x 787 feet), one quarter larger than the base of the Great Pyramid.

It has several different terraces and platforms and a flat top where a huge wooden building once sat -possibly the residence of the paramount chief or a temple.

Monks Mound was constructed over several centuries, with new material and new layers added periodically, perhaps to mark the death of a leader and the ascension of a new one.

It has been estimated that to build it took 15 million baskets of earth deposited over 300 years. The earth came from what are known as borrow pits, some of which are still visible at the site (although many were filled in and even built over).

This photo of three young Kaskasia girls belies the truth that life was difficult in the region.
Despite the rich soil and easy access to water, frequent flooding caused great upheaval for Kaskaskia residents.

In 1998 work to install drains on Monks Mound, to help prevent erosion and slippage, led to the discovery of a mysterious layer of stones beneath the western side of the mound.

The layer is at least 9.75 meters (32 feet) in extent in one direction, but its full size is unknown and it does not extend under the whole mound.

The Mississippians usually preferred to build in earth and wood and the nearest possible source for the stones is at least 12.75 kilometers (8 miles) away, so clearly they must have had some special reason to go to the expense and difficulty of bringing such a mass of stone to the site.

Was it a ceremonial platform or structure? Perhaps a tomb or crypt? Was it a repair job or drainage device? The answer must remain a mystery, for the layer is too deep to excavate without removing most of Monks Mound.

Other smaller mounds surround the central Grand Plaza, which at 19 hectares (47 acres) may be the largest earthen city square in the world.

It is an artificially flattened area and was skilfully constructed by levelling and filling undulations in the landscape, apparently in a single, vast construction project around 1050 CE, at the birth of Cahokia.

An 80-hectare (197/^-acre) area comprising the plaza and the mounds around it was enclosed with a 3.25-kilometre (2-mile) long palisade (wall of logs).

A reconstruction of the sort of thatched but that might have housed the majority of Cahokians.
Surrounding it is a wooden palisade, a distinctive feature of Mississippians culture.

Although primarily a defensive feature, the stockade also served a ritual function, perhaps marking the boundaries of the sacred precinct. There were smaller plazas elsewhere.

To the west of Monks Mound stood a “woodhenge” – a circle of cedar posts, used as a solar calculator to determine the timing of equinoxes and solstices.

It was rebuilt several times, possibly to take into account the successive enlargements of Monks Mound, the profile of which it was aligned with. This woodhenge suggests that, as with the Mesoamericans, the plazas and pyramids of the Mississippians were part of a solar cult.

The Riddle of Cahokia’s Origins

In most civilizations there is a clear progression of intermediate stages of settlement evolution, but Cahokia seems to have emerged and existed as something unique in Mississippian culture, without precedent or antecedent.

Of all ancient civilizations in North America, human hands have built no greater earthwork than the Monks Mound near East St. Louis, Illinois.

The Mound Builders statesmanship, ambitious projects and workforce make them of the most important cultures of World history.

Monks Mound is situated about a mile from the Mississippi River, just north of East St. Louis, Illinois, in central United States.

 In practice, however, archaeologists may have found clues regarding formative stages on the path to Cahokia.

Groups of mounds to the south of Cahokia, known as the Pulcher and Lohmann Mounds, are thought to be the remnants of much smaller Mississippian settlements/cult centers, and one theory is that these were precursors to Cahokia, where the religious ideas and practices that later triggered the development of the larger city first developed.

Elements of the Mississippian culture may also have derived from or been inspired by the Mesoamerican cultures to the south, although no Mesoamerican artifacts have ever been found at Cahokia, indicating that there were no migrations from that region.

Another theory is that Cahokia in effect gave birth to itself. Historian and archaeologist Timothy Pauketat has argued that the abrupt, large-scale coalescence of Cahokia must have involved a process of negotiations and agreements between different tribal groups or peoples, and that if the model of later peoples in this part of America is anything to go by, this process would have involved large public gatherings with massive feasts.

Excavations of borrow pits near the plaza show the remains of such feasts.

Archaeologists discovered postholes during excavation of the site to the west of Monks Mound, revealing a timber circle.
Noting that the placement of posts marked solstices and equinoxes, they referred to it as “an American Woodhenge”, likening it to England’s well-known circles at Woodhenge and Stonehenge.

Detailed analytical work supports the hypothesis that the placement of these posts was by design.

The structure was rebuilt several times during the urban center’s roughly 300-year history.

Evidence of another timber circle was discovered near Mound 72, to the south of Monks Mound.

According to Chappell, “A beaker found in a pit near the winter solstice post bore a circle and cross symbol that for many Native Americans symbolizes the Earth and the four cardinal directions.

Radiating lines probably symbolized the sun, as they have in countless other civilizations.”

The woodhenges were significant to the timing of the agricultural cycle.

Pauketat’s theory is that the Plaza was built to allow the holding of a great gathering/feast/negotiation, which led to the creation of Cahokia.

 Once it was built, the plaza acted as a focal point for the Mississippian religion, providing a space for more feasts and gatherings and giving Cahokia a raison d’etre.

Once Cahokia was established, new hierarchies and social structures quickly became established, probably via the medium of gift-giving. Power in many tribal societies, especially in North America, often derives from the chiefs ability to give things away, thus binding to him lower socio-economic groups, cementing allegiances and appeasing grievances and divisions.

The End of Cahokia

Many theories have been advanced to explain the decline and abandonment of Cahokia.

Perhaps because they had no tradition of city-living, the Cahokians made little provision for mass sanitation, so the high population density must have led to disease.

Overpopulation may also have stretched the ability of the surrounding area to feed the city (and there is evidence that satellite communities were set up specifically to cater for its needs).

The high population and its consumption of wood may have led to deforestation, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, flooding and rising water levels, all making it hard to sustain a city.

Climate change, such as the cooling associated with the Little Ice Age from c 1250, may also have played a part. Increased warfare and conflict suggests that political changes were taking place, and perhaps challenges to Cahokia’s authority.

And if a settlement the size of Cahokia was unusual in Mississippian culture, perhaps it is not so surprising that once it declined, the population subsided back to a scattered, village-centered existence.

Two of the lesser mounds in Cahokia Mounds State Historic Park.
On the Left is a platform mound, which may have had a structure on to of it, while on the right is a round-topped mound, used for burials.

Cahokia declined in the 13th century, and it was essentially abandoned by the late 14th century.

The Mississippian culture lived on in the southeastern USA, however, and it is thought likely that the Natchez Indians of Mississippi, described by Spanish and French explorers in the 16th to 18th centuries, may have been the inheritors of the Mississippian tradition.

They lived in palisaded villages, played chungke, practiced human sacrifice (the existence of which at Cahokia is attested to by headless and handless skeletons interred alongside nobles in burial mounds) and followed a solar religion.

Cahokia itself, however, attracted little attention and is still comparatively unknown. The mounds were treated with little respect by early settlers who flattened them to clear farmland, and even today much of Cahokia is built on and unprotected.

Statue of Madonna and Child.
These “traits,” as presented through physical remains, indicate that Mississippian peoples shared a common (or at least similar) religious philosophy that governed their interpretation of the world and cosmos around them.

Some scientists believe religious “outposts” of Cahokia were scattered throughout the upper Midwest, interacting with local groups. These local groups may have retained much of their previous cultural and religious heritage.

Some areas to the south and east of Cahokia seemed to have adopted the Mississippian way of life more completely.

There was also a trend among historians and archaeologists to deny or disparage the achievements of the Mississippians, with the mounds attributed to mythical pre-Columbian Europeans such as Phoenician or Welsh settlers, in keeping with the Manifest Destiny agenda that legitimized the dispossession of the indigenous peoples because of their”‘primitive” nature.

…a cheerful giver.

 

2 Corinthians 7 – The Joy of the Good News & Lost Cities of The Americas: Introduction

The Vikings were Scandinavian raiders of the 8th to 11th centuries. Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians all came down from the cold north and plundered Europe. For almost 300 years they terrorized the world.

When I was growing up I was taught that Christopher Columbus found North America in 1492 (according to Ruggero Marino he had reached America in 1485) so my understanding was that South and North America were vacant until that time.

But it has been found that the Norse and Vikings had been there somewhere around 500 years before that, and others had been in Alaska 40,000 years ago.

When God created the world everyone spoke the same language (Gen 11:1) and then man started building the evil Tower of Babel (Gen 11:4), i.e., the devil’s choice of One World Order.”  God then chose to segregate the people by giving them different languages and moving them around the world (Gen 11:6-9).

Therefore, it only makes since that the Americas are not as young in population which I was taught, so tomorrow we’ll start our study with…

2 Corinthians 7
The Joy of Good News

The Tower of Babel = “One World Order”
by Lucas van Valckenborch (1535 or later–1597).

1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2 Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.

“We have wronged no man” – implies that Paul had been accused by the false teachers of being unjust, destructive and fraudulent – the very things they themselves were guilty of.

3 I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.

Again he declares the depth of his affection for the Corinthian believers and appeals to them to respond, contrary to the wishes of the false teachers, by displaying their love for him, their genuine apostle.

4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.

6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;

7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.

8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

“I do not repent…I did repent…now I rejoice” – Paul was didn’t regret writing the letter, but the situation that required him to write it.  The result of the letter gave the desire Paul was looking for, the Corinthians did not become angry and hostile, but repentant.  

9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

When we repent it makes God and the angels happy and instead of death coming to us we are saved (Lk 15:10).

11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.

13 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.

14 For if I have boasted anything to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth.

15 And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him.

16 I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.

Lost Cities of The Americas

Ancient Map of the World

Introduction

El Castillo — ‘The Castle’ — in Chichen Itza, also known as the Temple of Kukulcan, the Feathered Serpent.

Large crowds gather here on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes to watch the sun cast serpentine shadows across the northern face of the pyramid.

In the Americas lie perhaps the archetypal lost cities: temples, palaces and pyramids that rear up out of virgin jungle, with only weird petroglyphs to hint at the nature of the cultures that once dwelt there and the dark histories that played out against such awe-inspiring backdrops.

Cities such as those of the Maya and the Inca, where a combination of circumstances – the swift and total destruction of indigenous civilizations and cultures, the remoteness of the sites and the rate at which the rainforest encroaches – conspired to allow them to disappear from human ken, remained hidden for hundreds of years.

The tales of their rediscovery are equally the stuff of romantic legend, with intrepid explorers hacking through the jungle in search of lost cities of gold.

Other pre-Columbian civilizations left their mark on the Americas, from the mound builders of Mississippi and the canyon-dwelling Pueblo peoples of the southern deserts to the Aztec Empire of Mexico and the mysterious ancient Tiwanaku culture of the Andes.

In many cases the remains left by these kingdoms and empires are relatively young, compared to the ancient sites of the Old World, and are therefore in good enough repair to amaze and enthral visitors even today.

From the point of view of the historian, New World civilizations offer a unique opportunity. Unlike in the Old World, where civilizations inevitably developed in the context of a network of influences and legacies that stitch one to another, the New World civilizations developed in glorious isolation, from first principles to fully-formed, sophisticated cultures with writing, monumental masonry and many other forms of technology.

The ancient kingdom of Tiwanaku was a major Indian civilization in the Andes Mountains of South America.

The main Tiwanaku ruins are located near the southern shore of Lake Titicaca in what is now Bolivia.

The similarities and differences between these lost cities and those of the Old World are instructive and they offer valuable insights into the importance of ecology, the fragility of the environment in the face of urban civilization and the world views of exotic cultures.

Perhaps it is this last feature that adds to the allure of the lost cities of the Americas – the religion and mysticism of their builders are both strange and intriguing, lending an extra layer of mystery to the already enigmatic.

…Lost Cities of the Americas: Cahokia.

2 Corinthians 6 – A Suffering Ministry & The Judgment Seat

In regards to Paul’s statement at the beginning of the article, remember yesterday I pointed out that yes, we will all stand before Jesus in the end. 

But only the non-believers and those that abuse the name of God (Ex 20:7) will be punished. 

The believers will be rewarded:

“And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev 22:12).

Tomorrow we’ll look at the last set of lost cities, we’ll begin with…

2 Corinthians 6
A Suffering Ministry

What little sign on the wall says “Bema”. This is Ancient Corinth where Paul stood before the magistrate.

1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

“Receive not the grace of God in vain” – To live with oneself is one way to do this (see 5:15).

2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

“The accepted time…the day of salvation” – as affirmation that is true in a general sense of all God’s saving acts in the history of His people, but that finds its particular fulfillment in this present age of grace between the two comings of Christ.

This understanding does not exclude from grace and salvation those who lived before Christ’s coming, for the believers of the Old Testament period received the promises that in due course were fulfilled in Christ (1:20) and they saw and welcomed their fulfillment from a distance (see Jn 8:56; Heb 11:13).

3 Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed:

The Bema/judgement seat–or the place where they would hear cases/trials. It’s one of the few places they know for sure that Paul was in. This could also be the same place Jesus was sentenced to be crucified.

“Giving no offense in anything” – Paul is concerned that he live an exemplary life because he does not want the ministry discredited.

A believer must be very careful of what he or she does or says in front of non-believers, as not to accidentally sway them further away from God. 

For example, if a believer swears or expresses a bad attitude in front of a non-believer then it would be difficult for them to believe anything else a believer says because God is very clear on not swearing (Eph 4:29, Col 3:8).  As  Paul points out in the next few scriptures.

4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings;

Relief of Jesus being arrested and dragged.

6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

8 By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;

9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

“Making many rich” – in Christ, True wealth does not consist in worldly possessions but in being “rich toward God.”  The believer, even if he has nothing of this world’s goods, nevertheless has everything in Him who is Lord of all.

11 O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.

12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.

13 Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.

Pontius Pilate was a Roman prefect of Judaea and he is more famous (or say infamous) for presiding over the trial of Jesus and giving the orders for his crucifixion.

According to the past accounts of his life Pilate was a Roman knight belonging to the Samnite clan of Pontii (this gave him the name Pontius).

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” – doubtless Paul has in mind the Old Testament prohibition of “mixtures” as in Deut 22:10.

For the Corinthian believer to cooperate with false teachers, who are in reality servants of Satan, notwithstanding their charming and persuasive ways is to become unequally yoked, destroying the harmony and fellowship that unite them in Christ.

Being unequally yoked also pertains to being too closely involved with a non-believer.  In Chapter 11, Paul speaks of his fears of people being tricked, or “beguiled like Eve” ( Gen 3:13), and fall away from God.

15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?  For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Yesterday I had shown you the confused mind of Marianne Williamson and the above scripture,  aside from others, makes it quite clear that she is off her rocker when she said:

“…Mary symbolizes the feminine within us, which is impregnated by God. .  .  . Through a mystical connection between the human and divine, we give birth to our Higher self.”

17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

The Judgment Seat

For a Christian, this is another one of those things of God where we just fall down in Awe!!

I know the picture above may look a bit foreboding, however Theo is a cool artist. This picture showing dark colors, can be used to make a case for Those who are Christians who don’t do well at the Judgement Seat.

I know there are times, when I am like man what a dummy I am, when realizing the future and failing to live like a Christian should.

These things that I write to you today are for believer’s and others who really want to grow in the Faith!!!

It’s possible, quite a number of Christians may not have a clue about all this stuff. I know to me, it is just starting to sink in!!!

The Judgment Seat of Christ is becoming more of a factor to me in my life, in realizing that this is a True Thing!! And I for one want to do good at this Rewarding Judgment for some but unrewarding Judgment for others.

Paul stated,

“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor 5:10 – also see Rom 14:10).

The Greek word translated “judgment seat” is bema, referred to numerous times in classical literature, was a raised speaker’s platform from which proclamations were read and on which citizens stood to appear before officials.

Three bemas are referred to in the New Testament:

* Pilate tried Jesus at the bema in Jerusalem (Matt 27:19; Jn 19:13).

* King Herod Agrippa I was struck by an angel of the Lord while making a speech at the bema in Caesarea (Acts 12:21-23), and Paul later appeared before Governor Porcius Festus there (Acts 25:1-12).

* The Jews of Corinth brought Paul to the bema to be tried by Governor Gallio (Acts 18:12-17).

The Corinthian bema where Paul was tried has been excavated. It is a large stone structure at the side of the agora, or public market, rising some 7.5 feet above the pavement and originally covered with beautifully carved marble.

A partially reconstructed Latin inscription found nearby reads,

“He revetted the rostra and paid personally the expense of making all its marble.” (The word rostra is the Latin equivalent of bema.)

There is no higher-self, or if you choose to believe there is one know that it is the Trinity within us.

…the Americas.

2 Corinthians 5 – A Confident Ministry & God Help Us – Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson, like Rhonda Byrne, Oprah Winfrey, Mary Baker Eddy, and so many others defy Jesus.  No matter how you look at it, The New Age defies Jesus Christ.  Jesus, and only Jesus can save us and we are His creation, nothing more.

In part, I agree with what Steve says below in his GRIP, we need to replace all of those in the government and especially Congress.  But with people that stand up for Jesus.

That leaves out the Democrats and most of the Republicans. They should make all the Democrats live in Detroit and Washington State.

Williamson thinks that we are the “light of the world” when actually we are the “salt of the world,” but either way, our actions today will be reflected upon in the end.

Therefore, tomorrow we’ll look at…

2 Corinthians
A Confident Ministry

1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

“Earthly house of this tabernacle” – our present body (see 2 Pet 1:13).

2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

“We groan” – because we long for he perfection that will be ours when we put on the glorious spiritual body.

3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

“God, who also hath given unto us…the Spirit” – the Holy Ghost, poured out by the risen and exalted Savior, applies the benefits of Christ’s redeeming works to the believer’s heart and makes the resurrection power of Jesus a reality of his daily experience.

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

It should not matter what happens to us on earth, if we are with Jesus nothing else matters because earth is temporary.

7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

9 Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

If you are a true believer you live the way Jesus lived and it does not matter how small or great your deeds are for Him because you are accepted by Him.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

This scripture is misunderstood by many and also used by some to sway people away from Jesus.  Many say that it doesn’t matter how good we are now because we have all sinned and Jesus is going to punish everyone.

This is not true, once we accept Jesus and repent our sins are forgiven, as God said:

“The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Ps 1: 4-5).

“The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgression from us” (Ps 103:6, 8, 11, 12).

Yes, we will all stand before Jesus in the end, but only the non-believers and those that abuse the name of God (Ex 20:7) will be punished.  The believers will be rewarded:  

“And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev 22:12).

This is also verified in v. 17 below.

11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

When you accept Jesus and repent you change your ways.  Not necessarily your ways of thinking, just your behavior. 

I say this because Jesus gave me a new heart.  I accepted Jesus a couple years before Obama became president and I still despise him. 

Until my acceptance of Jesus Christ I didn’t like or dislike Oprah, but now I can’t stand her only because she is a false prophet.

Yet, even though they and people like them anger me, I still pray for them because they are still God’s children.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

Back to v. 10 above, if we are reconciled with God why would He punish us for our past actions?  He wouldn’t and He won’t.

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

God Help Us
Marianne Williamson’s campaign
to save America’s soul,
starting with
California’s 33rd Congressional District

I find the following article humorous, but also very sad.  It is sad because Williamson appears to be a very kind and caring person.

Yet, it doesn’t matter how helpful we are to each other if we stand against Jesus.  Even if we don’t realize that we are in opposition of Him, that is our fault, not God’s.

As they say, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” and hell is where we would spend eternity.

Los Angeles

Beautiful Los Angeles

In case you were wondering, things in California just got a little weird. Okay, maybe not “just.” Let me be more specific:

The congressional election in California’s 33rd District, a coastal tract encompassing some of the wealthiest, most liberal quarters of Los Angeles County – Bel Air, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills, to name a few – just got a little weird.

On January 30, Henry Waxman, the district’s long-serving and notoriously cantankerous representative, surprised everyone by announcing he would retire at the end of this term.

Since arriving in Congress in 1975, Waxman has been a dogged champion of progressive causes and a frequent irritant to Republican administrations.

During George W. Bush’s term alone, Waxman, from his perch on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, launched investigations into everything from the handling of Hurricane Katrina to government contractors in Iraq to Republican National Committee email ethics.

Marianne Williamson (born July 8, 1952) is a spiritual teacher, author and lecturer. She has published ten books, including four New York Times #1 bestsellers.

She is the founder of Project Angel Food, a meals-on-wheels program that serves homebound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area, and the co-founder of The Peace Alliance, a grass roots campaign supporting legislation to establish a United States Department of Peace.

She serves on the Board of Directors of the Results organization, which works to end poverty in the United States and around the world.

Generally speaking, he has been a pain in the collective GOP hindquarters for nearly 40 years.

But with Waxman bowing out, how will things change? A television producer named Brent Roske has declared his candidacy, but it’s purely symbolic, and he’s not actually campaigning.

Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who made a name for herself by complaining that the Jesuit school’s health plan didn’t cover birth control, floated her name as a possible candidate and then decided against it.

There is a possibility that conservative Bill Bloomfield, who gave Waxman a run for his money in 2012, will give it another shot, but he has yet to announce (Waxman beat him 54-46 in a district Obama carried 61-37).

The field remains wide open. In fact, at the moment, there is only one candidate running anything approaching a real campaign.

Well, maybe “campaign” is the wrong word. It’s more a vision quest. If you live in Waxman’s district, Marianne Williamson doesn’t just want to represent you. She wants to save your soul.

Henry Arnold Waxman (born September 12, 1939) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who serves as the U.S. Representative for California’s 33rd congressional district, serving in Congress since 1975.

His district includes much of the western part of the city of Los Angeles, as well as West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.

Though perhaps not a household name, Williamson is something of a celebrity: Her self-help books have earned her national recognition, and her weekly lectures on spirituality have made her a fixture in Los Angeles for over 30 years.

Back in October, having at long last grown tired of politics as usual, frustrated with the Democratic party of which she has been a member all her life, and armed with a large grassroots following (she claims more than 400,000 Facebook fans and 200,000 Twitter followers), she announced her independent candidacy for Waxman’s seat and has been kissing proverbial babies ever since.

New Age spiritual teacher, guru to movie stars, friend of Oprah—she is both self-actualized and self-made. Born to a Jewish family in Houston in 1952, by the late 1970s, Williamson confesses, “I was a total mess.”

After bouncing “from relationship to relationship, job to job, city to city, looking for some sense of identity or purpose,” she found herself living in New York, “seeking relief in food, drugs, people, or whatever else I could find to distract myself.”

She wallowed in this depression until stumbling across a book that she credits with transforming her life.

That book was A Course in Miracles, a 1,300-page spiritual manual (complete with student workbooks and instructions on how to teach it) written by New York psychologists Helen Schucman and William Thetford and published by the Foundation for ParaSensory Investigation (now the Foundation for Inner Peace).

Williamson heeded the book’s call to become a “miracle-worker.” In 1983, now living in Los Angeles, she began lecturing on The Course (as she calls it) at the Philosophical Research Society in Los Feliz.

By the end of the ’80s, she had helped to found the Los Angeles Center for Living and Project Angel Food, both nonprofits providing assistance to people suffering from HIV, AIDS, and other life-threatening illnesses.She developed a large following, particularly among Los Angeles’s gay community, which was then being ravaged by the initial outbreak of AIDS.

A few years later, she had to resign the leadership of Project Angel Food after a controversy erupted when she fired several employees for their attempts to unionize.

Henry Arnold Waxman (born September 12, 1939) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who serves as the U.S. Representative for California’s 33rd congressional district, serving in Congress since 1975.

His district includes much of the western part of the city of Los Angeles, as well as West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.

To know more go Here: Skull and Bones

In response to numerous media reports of her explosive temper and overbearing management style, Williamson, ever ready to embrace her own weaknesses, nicknamed herself “The Bitch for God.”

In 1992, she wrote a self-help manual, A Return to Love, expounding on excerpts from The Course

A Return to Love’s overall spiritual lesson is that we as human beings are in fact all one being, not under but with God, that all of our minds are actually one mind, and that we have tricked ourselves into thinking we are separate from one another, thus creating fear, which dominates us and throws us into collision with everyone else, who, we need to remember, are really also us.

According to Williamson, there is only one way out of this destructive cycle, and that is (spoiler alert) a return to love.

Both her book and The Course make liberal use of Christian theological terms, but deploy them as merely symbolic of universal spiritual truths.

“The concept of a divine, or ‘Christ’ mind,” we learn, “is the idea that at our core, we are not just identical, but actually the same being.”

A Course in Miracles is a profound spiritual text focusing on the principles of universal love and forgiveness that has a revelatory impact on people of many faiths and religious backgrounds.

Christ, you see, “is a psychological term” and “‘Accepting the Christ’ is merely a shift in self-perception. We awaken from the dream [that] we are finite, isolated creatures, and recognize that we are glorious, infinitely creative spirits.”

And, not to leave anyone out, Williamson’s book also includes a smattering of references to other religious and cultural traditions:

In Taoist philosophy, “yin” is the feminine principle, representing the forces of earth, while “yang” is the masculine principle, representing spirit. .  .  . In Christic philosophical terms, Mary symbolizes the feminine within us, which is impregnated by God. .  .  . Through a mystical connection between the human and divine, we give birth to our Higher self.

And so on. And so forth.

Despite its mealy-mouthed pan-denominationalism, Williamson’s counsel is not, as these things go, all that bad: We should try to think of others more than ourselves; we should try to treat people with kindness; we should try to replace our selfish and fearful thinking with love.

It is all just fuzzy enough about specific directives to appeal to spiritually minded folks who might be turned off by having to do anything, besides think happy thoughts, to achieve enlightenment.

Perhaps as a result, the book spent 39 weeks on the New York Times self-help bestseller list and brought Williamson national attention (not to mention a lot of money).

In the intervening years, she has published nine more books (five more bestsellers), including, in 2000, Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens.

Oh yeah, vote for Brent Roske, a television producer.

Arnold Schwarzenegger are in the same type of arena, and we all know what a great governor he had been.

The book is really a political manifesto, glorifying the protest politics of the 1960s and lamenting,

“The invisible order that shot our heroes [i.e., JFK, RFK, and MLK Jr.] did not keep shooting, but began providing goods and services as quickly as possible to distract a grieving generation from our psychic pain.”

The result of this materialist conspiracy, Williamson feels, has been a disengagement from politics, and Healing offers a broad indictment of the American voting public’s apathy and ignorance.

“Today’s average American is more apt to rebel against a tennis shoe not coming in the right color than against the slow erosion of our democratic freedoms,” she declares.

“Today, most Americans are too cynical, or tired, or both, to even approximate our Founders’ courageous repudiation of injustice.”

The overarching message is that we need to slough off our materialistic chains and apply our great spiritual wisdom, above all our innate love for one another as human beings, to the political problems of the day. All we need, in other words, is love.

I wonder if she is related to Manson in some way?

On my way to meet Williamson at a restaurant in Brentwood, I’m not quite sure what to expect.

Sandra Kay Fluke born April 17, 1981) is an American attorney and women’s rights activist.

She first came to public attention when, in February 2012, Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee refused to allow her to testify to that committee on the importance of requiring insurance plans to cover birth control during a discussion on whether medical insurance should have a contraception mandate.

She later spoke to only House Democratic members.

I’ve never seen a guru before, let alone had lunch with one, and my East Coast prejudices are already starting to get the better of me.

I’m half-expecting her to glide into the dining room in flowing saffron robes and to answer my questions in New Age hypno-babble.

To be honest, I’m kind of hoping for it. But I find her sitting at a corner table dressed neatly in a black pantsuit, mundanely sipping a cup of coffee.

Clearly, Williamson is not your straight-from-central-casting hippie-dippy-California spiritual type. She is tall, brunette, beautiful, and quite squarely put together: sharp features, a strong chin, a firm handshake. Her bearing is businesslike and utterly without pretension.

The spiritual life has clearly been good to her. She speaks confidently, rapidly. She is relentlessly on message, and her message is simultaneously aggressive and unifying.

“I think there’s a basic disintegration in our democratic foundation which is not being addressed by either major political party,” Williamson tells me.

“Part of the problem I have with the status quo is that they only speak to the selfish interest of the American people, and I believe the American people are better than that.”

Her primary concern is that “Americans are feeling locked out of the system.” When I gently point out that the 33rd District, locus of countless Obama fundraisers and home to some of L.A.’s richest, most famous, most beautiful souls, ranks fairly low on any scale of locked-outness, she immediately agrees.

“This is definitely one of the least locked-out districts.” That being said, “We are more than economic creatures. We have a soul.” She continues, benevolently, “I am not speaking to the rich in you, or the poor in you. I am speaking to the American in you.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” she says with a smile, “capitalism has been good to me. But what is happening today is that too many people can’t get in the club, there has to be enough access. There has to be enough access to opportunity for America to be a stable democracy.

Bill Bloomfield said, “I believe that politics and public policy are too important to be left to just the politicians. As citizens, we all have the right and responsibility to engage on the most important issues facing our communities, our state and our nation.”

I agree with him, but I’m wondering what he thinks Congress is? They’re not politicians?

”All in all, she exudes an aura of moderation, and her frequent references to America’s most popular political icons only add to it. “The Constitution doesn’t mention political parties; Washington warned us against them,” she declares. “JFK said, ‘Let us not seek a Republican answer or a Democratic answer. Let us seek an American answer.’”

What, then, is the American answer that Marianne Williamson seeks? Well, despite the promise of her campaign’s slogan to “Create Anew,” it is pretty much warmed-over, social-justice, progressive, liberal blah, blah, blah, with a little California crunchy-wackadooism thrown in.

Prison reform, climate change, shutting down nuclear power plants, and ending the “corruption of the food supply” are high on her list of priorities.

Above all else, she is intent on getting the money out of politics and views Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court decision easing restrictions on campaign contributions, as perhaps the greatest threat to democracy that America has ever faced.

But even while condemning both political parties and the state of our democratic system in general, while complaining about incarceration rates and Monsanto and “moneyed interests,” she somehow still sounds quite reasonable, lacking the stridency of MSNBC and the outright incoherence of the now-defunct Occupy movement (RIP).

After just a few minutes, I can’t deny that Williamson is a knockout of a candidate: smart, eloquent, passionate, and considerably more telegenic than her, um, rodentine predecessor.

As our conversation winds down, she suggests I check out her weekly spiritual lecture, you know, “so you can see me in front of an audience.”

I am happy to oblige, and when I show up at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on a Monday night, taking my seat in the back among a crowd of several hundred spiritual seekers, I am not disappointed.

Williamson writes in A Return to Love that “the spiritualization process.  .  . is the cultivation of personal magnetism,” and if she were any more magnetic, people’s fillings would be flying out of their teeth.

Oprah a puppet controlled by George Soros, the Evil entertainment front of the New World Order. compete with an evil empire full of refutable minions.

If Williamson can be the “Bitch from God” then can’t Oprah be the “Bitch from Hell”?

As spirit guide, she is softer than in her candidate persona, but she talks just as quickly and fluidly and with as much conviction.

“May we be lifted above and beyond to the endless love and peace that is beyond,” she prays from the stage, concluding, after a dramatic moment of silence, “And so it is.”

She talks for about an hour to the rapt crowd about a passage from The Course dealing with the idea that “I am as God created me.” Her talk is quite soothing, and she implores us to “discover within your mind the self that is the son of God.”

She reminds us that we “are perfect and changeless, and so is everyone else,” that “the universe is invested in your self-actualization,” and that our “function is to be the light of the world.”

Jesus said we are the salt of the world; He is the light of the world.

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt 5:13).

The meaning of Jesus’ words are debated, here are a few suggestions:

* Whiteness represents the purity of the justified believer.

Helen Cohn Schucman (July 14, 1909 – February 9, 1981) was an American clinical and research psychologist from New York City.

She was a professor of medical psychology at Columbia University in New York from 1958 until her retirement in 1976.

Schucman is best known for having “scribed” with the help of colleague William Thetford the book A Course in Miracles (1st edition, 1975), the contents of which she claimed to have been given to her by an inner voice she identified as Jesus. However, as per her request, her role as its “writer” was not revealed to the general public until after her death.

* Salt’s flavoring properties imply that Christians are to add divine flavor to the world.

* Christians are to sting the world with rebuke and judgment the way salt stings an open wound.

* As salt, Christians are to create a thirst for Christ.

* Salt has another vital purpose which is probably what the Lord had in mind-it stops decay. When Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth”, He meant that all of His disciples were to serve as preservatives, stopping the moral decay in our sin infected world.

I agree with the last suggestion because salt adds flavor to the meal.  Therefore, Christians are to stand up and show the world their faith in Jesus Christ, not hide it.

In Matt 5:14, Jesus said,

“Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”

That more or less clarifies what I think Jesus meant in regard to us being the salt of the world.  But we are not “THE” true light of the world, Jesus is:

“Then spake Jesus again unto them saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn 8:12).

The overall effect is pleasantly soporific, and by the end of the lecture I get why everyone here loves her so much. I mean, I feel fantastic; I had completely forgotten how perfect I was.

After the closing prayer, after we “gently pour ourselves back into the awareness of the human body,” she gives us another “And so it is.” This time the audience calls back in unison, “And so it is. Amen,” which, I’m not going to lie, is pretty odd.

In fact, it’s almost as odd as some of her supporters. At the campaign’s weekly volunteer meeting, held at The Source Spiritual Center in Venice every Thursday, the first person I encounter, among the crowd of about 50 volunteers, is Steve.

A self-described fiscal conservative and social liberal, Steve is the founder of GRIP—Get Rid of Incumbent Politicians—an organization with the modest goal of removing every single incumbent in America from office.

GRIP means Get Rid of Incumbent Politicians
GRIP is a simple means to effect change. This idea is not aligned with the right wing or the left wing, with Democrats or Republicans.

For years the two party system has been bankrupt. They are two sides of the same coin.

There are plenty of ideas on how to fix things but GRIP is not about ideas that will be shot down due to differences of opinion.

The best idea is to think, vote and Get Rid of Incumbent Politicians.

Steve starts to tell me how he got involved with the Williamson campaign (“Have you heard of Dirty Wars?”), but our conversation is interrupted when an airy woman with flowing blonde hair grabs a microphone on stage and starts welcoming us to The Source.

“Let’s just take a moment of silence and sit in gratitude for a moment and take a couple of breaths together just to get present in this moment. This is all we’re ever in, this is all we have, and that’s where all power lies.”

She closes her eyes, inhales deeply, exhales, inhales deeply again, and exhales before inviting us to check out “the amazing soundbath The Source has on Saturdays,” with a promise that afterwards we can go to the “café and elixir lounge” downstairs, if we like.

She hands the mike over to Rob Nelson, Williamson’s campaign coordinator. Wild-eyed and meticulously unkempt, Nelson paces the stage back and forth like an uncomfortable comedian, the front of his sweater inexplicably tucked into his boxer shorts, which stick out of the top of his designer jeans.

He and the campaign’s political coordinator, a nebbishy young fellow named Ben Eisenberg, go through a simple training session on how to register people to vote, and they dutifully deal with the volunteers’ innocence about the process. 

One supporter, for example, is horrified to discover that some of the people they register might vote for Waxman (he was still in the race at the time).

Another asks if she has to stay in her own neighborhood, or if she can register voters in other parts of the district, to which Eisenberg responds, somewhat wearily, “If you live in Santa Monica, but you want to register voters at a farmer’s market in Malibu, that’s totally okay.”

There’s a brief pause in the action before everyone breaks into smaller groups to discuss canvassing specific locations, and I flinch when a pair of large hands suddenly begins massaging my shoulders from behind and a face pops into my peripheral vision.

“Oh! I didn’t mean to startle you!” my new friend, an African-American man wearing a UCLA cap, says with a smile. “How’s the universe treating you?” I let him know it’s treating me just fine and ask how it’s treating him. “Oh, just living in the attitude of gratitude! So are you ready to create anew and achieve the dream?”

This is Tony. He’s been a follower of Marianne for a while, and when he heard she was running for Congress he signed right up to help. In fact, he even wrote a “musical poem” for her campaign.

Based on the ’90s hip-hop song “I Got 5 on It,” the poem combines the Williamson campaign slogan “Create Anew” with the generally great life slogan “Achieve the Dream.” According to Tony, he got the idea from Gandhi’s grandson, whom he recently met on a trip to India.

When I tell him I’m a reporter writing a story on Marianne, he asks excitedly if I think “America is ready for amazing grace on seis tres,” referring in Spanish (for obvious poetic reasons) to June 3, the date of California’s open primary, when the voters will decide which two candidates get to face off in the general election.

When I tell Tony I’m not sure, he shakes my hand with a smile, tells me it was great to meet me, and vanishes almost as abruptly as he appeared.

A few days later I find myself in another bustling crowd, this time at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club, where we are assembled for the Williamson campaign’s first monthly issues forum.

Tonight’s topic is the all-important “Getting Money Out of Politics,” and Marianne has brought in special guest Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor, to give a talk.

As I enter the hall, I run into Whitney and Caroline, a pair of sixty-something students of The Course. Even though they live just outside the 33rd District, they’re big supporters and plan on urging all their friends in the district to vote for Marianne.

“She is a self-actualized person,” Whitney tells me, “Which is a good thing to bring to a body of people like Congress.” Caroline, the more talkative of the two, is more forceful in her endorsement.

“It’s like Marianne says, it’s either love or fear. Do you remember what Eisenhower said?” I assure her I don’t. “Beware the military-industrial complex,” she says with a stern face, before adding, casually, “I believe in the Illuminati and all that.”

Illuminati sign

I believe in the Illuminati too, I believe they exist, but I certainly would not promote them, it’s one of the devil’s groups.

The room is packed by the time our guest speaker is introduced. Winkler, for his part, gives about as interesting and humorous a talk on the legal history of campaign finance reform as one could expect.

Then Marianne joins him on stage, and the floor is opened for questions. “Waxman, while he has been good, has shown a penchant for the military-industrial complex,” the first questioner begins.

“Why is impeachment of the Supreme Court not viable?” asks another. “How can we stop Grover Norquist?” “Is there a shadow government?” “Would you support efforts to eliminate all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth?”

Williamson handles these questions with aplomb, working the crowd, delivering lines that frequently elicit applause. Perhaps not surprisingly, she is less conciliatory here than in her sit-down with me.

Illuminati sign

These are her people, and she is serving them red meat. Or whatever the vegan equivalent of red meat is. “Waxman says fracking is bad, but he won’t do anything about it. How many more studies do we need to realize we are raping our planet?” she asks too much applause.

She announces, to more applause still, that she supports a bill creating a Department of Peace and making its secretary a cabinet-level position.

“The phrase ‘shadow government’ doesn’t feel helpful to me,” she says at one point. “It sounds like something over there that we can’t do anything about. They’re doing it in the light of day!” The crowd erupts. “We repudiated aristocracy in 1776. It is time for us to repudiate it again!” she shouts, to the loudest cheers of the night.

Throughout all this, she still manages to talk about America’s founding principles and the greatness of the American experiment, about the urgency of reengaging with the democratic process, at one point even referring to Tocqueville, all while making the case for her candidacy.

“The House of Representatives is the people’s house—the artist, the philosopher, the shoemaker should all serve terms,” she says. “I think my election to Congress would be the best thing to happen to the Democratic party—it would make them get their soul back.”

And it is the soul after all—be it the Democratic party’s, America’s, yours, or even mine—that Williamson is most concerned with. After a question on the compatibility of spirituality and politics, posed toward the end of the forum, Williamson grows a little quieter, a little softer, assuming her spirit-guide mantle yet again.

“Spirituality is the path of the heart; it should influence everything we do.” She concludes, simply, “We need a politics of conscience, we need a politics of heart, we need a politics of love.”

 As we file out of the Woman’s Club—our political apathy most heartily rebuffed, a nascent sense of brotherhood among us, the energy of a newfound love for our fellow man propelling us merrily toward the parking garage next door—a bearded, burnt-out-looking man sporting a grungy flannel under his “Marianne for Congress” T-shirt asks if anyone can give him a ride to a place called Café Gratitude in Venice.

An awkward silence ensues. Nobody in the crowd responds, or even makes eye contact with him, doing their best to ignore his existence.

And so it is.

…the Judgment Seat.