The Books of Which I am Most Proud

a song to my soul cover

A SONG TO MY SOUL

A SONG TO MY SOUL is a collection of poems and prose, which look at the world in a new way. The hope of this book is to remind the reader just how mystical and magical every day in this world is. It seeks to glimpse the religion beyond religion in a world that often confuses the lamp for the light.

In a thought-provoking and poetic way, the author touches upon a variety of topics, including:

 

  • The nature of the Trinity
  • What it means for Jesus to be “Truly Human”
  • The nature of “Truth”
  • The relationship between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism
  • God as Community
  • The world is the womb for our souls

Excerpt

16
In the womb of your mother,
You heard the heartbeat of your mother.

In the womb of the world,

You hear the heartbeat of God –

If you can be still enough to listen.

53
I do not love with my heart,
For the heart stops beating.
I do not love with my flesh,
For the flesh dies.
I do not love with my life,
For life is fleeting and has limits.
I Love with my soul,
Which is boundless, fearless,
Unstoppable and eternal.
*          *          *          *
It does not matter who you are or how you are,
You have been given to me by God
To help me be the person I was always meant to be.
It does not matter what role you played:
Mother, lover, friend, bully.
Unknown stranger or life-long friend,
You were only playing the role assigned to you.
Enemy or friend; stranger or confidant,
You have only ever been the hands of God who formed me,
And who is forming me still.
And I love you for it!
The only way I know how to love –
With all of my soul.
95
It is not the lamp that is important;
It is the light!
It is not the horizon that is important;
It is the sunrise!
It is not the messenger that is important;
It is the Message!
The form of the lamp is a matter of taste and style,
But the light is the light regardless of form.
How many sit in the dark because they confuse the lamp with the light?
How many stubbornly declare that they will not use a lamp
Simply because it is not the lamp they have known their whole lives?
Only a fool would sit in darkness while pining for the light,
Refusing to use the lamp available to him because it is unfamiliar.
Yet, we have all played the fool.

 

a sheep among wolves (2)A SHEEP AMONG WOLVES: One Man’s Stubborn Commitment to the Idea That GOD IS LOVE 

A SHEEP AMONG WOLVES: One Man’s Stubborn Commitment to the Idea That GOD IS LOVE is a collection of meditations (called “Blessays”) centered on that one, simple idea that God is love, which, if true, then then love is not what God does, Love is what God is! If we really believe that God is love, then whatever we do in the name of God must be done with love because if it is not done with love, then it is not done for God – who is love. If God is love, then Kingdom of God is really the Kingdom of Love; Jesus Christ is really the Son of Love; and we are all the People of Love.

This is theology at its best – down to earth, accessible, practical, and applicable. It is a must read for all who strive to live as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ regardless of church affiliation or tradition.

Excerpt

The most important thing I learned in seminary was not a particular doctrine, or any particular point of scholarship. It was not even learning Greek and Hebrew so that the Bible could be better understood by using the original languages. These were all important, and I am now grateful that these things were required to graduate; although, at the time, my gratitude may have been lacking. I have since come to respect just how important these things are, and how important they were to learn while in seminary. Yet, as important as they were, and still are, they were not the most important thing I learned in seminary.
The most important thing I learned in seminary, I learned from a handshake.
It was in May of 1995. I had just completed my first year of seminary and was spending my summer engaged in what is called “Clinical Pastoral Education” at the University of Louisville Hospital. I was assigned to the Oncology ward as the primary location for my pastoral duties in the hospital – mostly being with patients receiving Chemotherapy, and of course, being with the nurses and staff who administered Chemotherapy. Technically, each of us were responsible for covering the entire hospital, but we each had a section of the hospital to which we were assigned and where we spent most of our time.
The first day I arrived on the Oncology ward, one of the nurses took me around and introduced me to “the regulars.” I do not remember a single person to whom she introduced me – except one. In the middle of our round of introductions, she introduced me to a very young man – younger than I was at the time and I was only 26 years old. After she introduced us, I instinctively stretched out my arm, taking the man’s hand in mine, shaking it politely. We exchanged some pleasant small talk. Then we moved on to the next bed. As we were moving along, before we got to the next bed, the nurse said to me, “Do you know what you just did?”
I was suddenly horrified. I thought I had broken some rule or unintentionally insulted the young man I just met. I told her that I didn’t know what I did, and asked if I did something wrong. She said, “You touched him.”
“Was that wrong?” I asked.
“Not at all. But he has full blown AIDS. Nobody touches him. Nobody is ALLOWED to touch him. When we touch him, we have to wear gloves. It’s been months since anyone just touched him with bare hands. You have no idea how much that meant to him.”
She was right. I had no idea. I still don’t, quite frankly. But I do know that even though it was unintentional, it was powerful. I would love to tell the story in a way in which I knew his condition and bravely thrust my hand into his, but it was an accident. I had no idea. If the truth were told, I probably would have been afraid to touch him had I known. Thank God I did not know because that handshake taught me more about ministry than all the books I read, lectures I heard, sermons I listened to in all the worship services, during the entire time I was in seminary.
I eventually earned two Masters degrees at that seminary. I learned a lot of stuff. But what I learned about ministry, I learned from a handshake on the Oncology ward on an uneventful morning in the Spring of 1995. I learned that my role in ministry is to reach out and touch people, especially those who are deemed “untouchable.”

 

Awake Cover (2)AWAKE

AWAKE continues with the theme begun in A SONG TO MY SOUL which asserts that Life is a mystical experience; we just do not notice it because we are used to it. It The material in this book is centered on the Mystical Mundane and the Sacred Ordinary. It is a reminder of just how mystical and magical every day in this world is. It seeks to glimpse the religion beyond religion in a world that often confuses the lamp for the light.

In a thought-provoking and poetic way, the author touches upon a variety of topics, including:

  • God created a universe just to have a relationship with you
  • The nature of God is to be love and to be relational
  • Creation is the arena where this relationship is fostered and grows
  • Everything put on earth is designed to help you with your relationship with God
  • You are ALWAYS on God’s mind

Excerpt

1
Some disciples recognized Christ when He sent them fish.
Notice He did not limit himself to teaching them how to fish;
He gave them fish.
They had to have faith and follow direction;
They had to extend some effort;
But the Lord sent the fish.
They ate for a day and it was good enough for the moment.
Some disciples recognized Christ when He broke the bread.
Some disciples recognized Christ when He provided fish.
But Thomas…
Thomas recognized Christ by the wounds.
To some you will give bread and fish
And you will make Christ visible to them.
They will see Christ in you.
But that is not enough.
Can you see Christ in them?
Can you look at their wounds;
Can you touch their scars and injuries;
Can you look at their disfigurements;
And then declare “My Lord and my God!”?
The hungry see Christ in us because we feed them;
But we feed them because we see Christ in them.
Your mission, Beloved, is no mystery.
Your mission is before your eyes.
Your mission is an arm’s length away.
What is before you IS the Will of God.
How you respond to what is before you
Is either waste or worship.
95
God did not love the leper any less
Because of his leprosy.
God did not love the leper any more
When cured of his leprosy.
God loved the man the same,
Whether “clean” or “unclean.”
“You can make me clean if it is what you want,” says the man.
“It is what I want,” says The Compassion of God;
“It is what I want,” says God’s Love-in-Action.
And it is what God wants for you and me.
Because God loves us –
God loves each of us as if
There were only one of us.
God loves me no less when a sinner;
God loves me no more when a saint.
God loves me no less when “unclean”;
God loves me no more when “clean.”
God’s love is love!
There are no conditions;

 

 

how to live a spiritual life amazon cover.jpgHow To Live A Spiritual Life Without Leaving Your Day Job: Spiritual Principles for Daily Living (Inspired by THE RULE OF SAINT BENEDICT)

 

This book is simple. It is an attempt to provide short, simple, daily, and hopefully practical, spiritual principles for those seeking to live a “spiritual life.” It is based on The Rule of Saint Benedict and Benedictine spirituality.

Benedictine spirituality is tied to community. It is based on a prayer life that is tied to the Scriptures, especially that of the Psalms. It envisions a balanced life of prayer, worship, study, and work. In the context of an anxious and uncertain world. Benedictine spirituality encourages stability, practices radical hospitality, is concerned with justice and peace, and it strives to find the sacred in the ordinary.

This book presents 365 daily spiritual principles derived from Benedictine spirituality. These short spiritual principles can be used each day for meditation, or for reflection throughout the day as you go about attending to the business of life. You do not have to be a monk to embark on a daily adventure that leads to finding God in the ordinary, and finding your true self in the process.

Excerpt

JANUARY 23
The spiritual life is not only learning to see Christ in the other, but it is treating the other as Christ.
NOVEMBER 25
Life is difficult and it seems as if each day we live costs us something. We must live our lives purposefully and consciously, placing every step, every action, every breath, every beat of our hearts, into God’s hands, beginning anew each day.
NOVEMBER 26
The goal is to live each day with purpose and commitment, so that we no longer are victimized by life and defined by our circumstances, but instead, we are victorious over life and our lives are defined regardless of our circumstances
NOVEMBER 28
Lose your need to be right.
More importantly, abandon your need for others to know you are right.
DECEMBER 24
The way of the world is that of unending struggle. The world tells you that you have to fight to earn your place, and fight to keep it. The way of the world is conflict, competition, self-seeking, and betrayal.
Those who are spiritually mature accept that even though the world may be this way, they refuse to live in this way. Those who are spiritually mature accept the world for what it is, and they seek to interact with the world as it is without becoming sullied by the world, providing an example to the world of what it can become.

 

a guide to grief cover (2)A Guide to Grief and Mourning

The death of a person may be an event, but the acknowledgement of that death is a process.

A GUIDE TO GRIEF AND MOURNING is a handbook for grief and mourning. It is a quick reference guide to common issues and experiences with grief and mourning, or bereavement in general. The purpose is to be useful in understanding grief, and to begin to navigate through grief and mourning.

This book will help the reader:

  • To understand what grief is;
  • To understand that grief is natural and normal;
  • To understand that grief is a process;
  • To become familiar with the process of grief;
  • To understand the difference between grief and mourning;
  • To understand that people have needs in grief;
  • To understand that people do not have to be helpless victims of their grief, but that there are things they can do to help facilitate mourning and to work through their grief.
  • To understand that grief is “healed” through mourning;
  • To understand that there are choices, even in grief and in mourning;
  • To become an “Active Participant” in their grief, having tools and knowledge that assist in being intentional in how one mourns.

This book will be useful to those who are experiencing grief, and to those who are attempting to comfort someone in grief.

Excerpt

WHAT IS “BEREAVEMENT”?
“Bereavement is one of those old sounding words we may not pay a lot of attention to because we think we know what it means. It means to be sad, especially when referring to the sadness experienced after a death. It is a poetic word used by funeral directors and hospice agencies. Other than that, however, it is not a word we tend to use much unless a death has just been experienced.
Bereave and Bereaved are more than poetically expressing the idea of sadness. The original meaning of the word was to “be deprived of something.” To be bereaved was to have someone forcibly take something of value away.” To bereave was “to rob” or “to plunder.” Bereavement was not a “cat burglar” style of robbing in which someone sneaks in by stealth, takes what is wanted, and sneaks away unnoticed. Bereavement was the violent taking of an object or objects. It was to forcibly break into a home, wreck the place, injure the people, and get away with whatever can be carried.
This is exactly what death does! It plunders our lives. It forcibly enters into our lives and takes what it wants, leaving us wounded and helpless victims. This is why we use the word “Bereaved” for those who are experiencing loss, grief, and mourning after a death. It is not euphemistically used out of some attempt to be poetic. It is deliberately used out of an attempt to be accurate.
This is true whether you have just been told you have a terminal illness, or whether you are caring for someone with a terminal illness, or whether you have just lost someone you love. Death has inserted itself into your life and it may often feel as if it manhandling you. It may often feel as if you are at its mercy. You may begin to see traces of it scattered throughout your life.

 

Apostolic Prosperity

Apostolic Prosperity: The Guide For Receiving God’s Wealth, Healing, and Abundance!

Abundance is the product of Faith, Gratitude, and Generosity. This is the lesson of this book. Jesus shows this to us in His parables, and enacts it for us in His miracles.

Faith, Gratitude, and Generosity – these are all that is required for a life of abundance and prosperity!

Prosperity does not simply mean money. Money may be a part of prosperity. It may be the part you need. But prosperity also includes good health, good relationships, and an abundance of these and other good things. A millionaire who is dying of cancer is not prosperous. Yes, he is rich in money, but he is poor in health. More than that, his money cannot save him. He may have the best medical care that money can buy, but being prosperous in wealth while also being in poverty in terms of health is not an ideal situation. So you can see how the millionaire dying of cancer is in reality a poor man with a million dollars.

The assertion that faith can lead to prosperity, and the declaration that if you practice the principles in this book you will be prosperous, is not the same as saying: “Believe in God and get rich.” The principle is that faith, gratitude, and generosity lead to prosperity, and that prosperity is a wholeness that includes health, wealth, relationships, and an abundance of good things.

In the Gospels, Jesus continually praises people for their faith, and He continually chastises those who are not expressing faith. Jesus promises that nothing is impossible for the person who has a tiny amount of faith, even if it is as small as a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). He told the father who brought his son to Him that EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE TO THE ONE WHO HAS FAITH! (Mark 9:23). This is because everything is possible for God (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27).

A little with faith is more than a lot with doubt. A little with faith is more than a lot with a reliance on human effort and will. A tiny amount of faith can move a mountain, but human effort requires hundreds of workers and a lot of time to accomplish what faith can do in an instant.

Excerpt

God wants you to be prosperous! That’s right! God’s will is for you to be prosperous! This may sound shocking (even blasphemous) to a lot of people. Many Christians have been raised to believe that God wants them to be poor, or that there is some special blessing in being poor. That is just not true.
In the second verse of the letter of 3 John, it says:
I pray that everything is well with you and that your body is just as healthy as your soul is.
The entire phrase, “everything is well” is a single word in the Greek. The word εὐοδόω (euodoō) also carries the sense of financial benefit. So the verse could just as accurately be translated:
I pray that you are prosperous and that your body is just as healthy as your soul.
This is important for Christians to understand. Christian Prosperity is not limited to money or wealth, but neither does it exclude money or wealth. There is more to being prosperous than having a lot of stuff and having a huge bank account, but Christianity does not require anyone to be poor.
The biblical definition of prosperity is having everything you need for your life. Prosperity is “everything being well with you,” lacking in nothing that is necessary. The opposite of being prosperous is being “poor.” The Greek word for “poor” is πτωχός (ptochos), and it does not merely mean financial need, as the word is often used in English, but it means to be lacking in something that is necessary for one’s survival. There is a tendency to reduce poverty to being merely about money. There is a certain logic to this. We take our money and use it to buy the items we need for existence. Therefore, if one is “poor” in money, then one is often lacking in vital items (food, clothing, shelter, health care, etc.), which are necessary for survival.
Biblical poverty cannot merely be reduced to a lacking in finances. By biblical standards, one can be very “rich” in money, while being very “poor” in other aspects. A man with a million dollars in his bank account, who is dying of cancer, by biblical standards, is just a poor man with a million dollars. A healthy man without food or shelter is just a poor man who is healthy. Anyone who lacks something that is necessary is poor. Anyone who has everything necessary for survival is prosperous. Anyone who is so prosperous that there is an overabundance that can be given to others, or be used to help others who are “poor,” is rich or wealthy.

 

new peace treaty cover.jpg

The New Peace Treaty: A New Translation of the New Testament for a New Millennium

THE NEW PEACE TREATY IS A BIBLE THAT SAYS WHAT IT MEANS!

THE NEW PEACE TREATY is a translation of the New Testament from the Greek that will make its meaning understandable and come alive.

  • It is written in 21st-century language.
  • Highly theological and often misunderstood religious terms are broken down to their core meaning.
  • Chapter and verse have been removed (because they weren’t added until the Middle Ages).
  • THE NEW PEACE TREATYlooks like a book and reads like a book.

THE NEW PEACE TREATY is in fact the Bible, but it does not look or read like most Bibles. This does not detract from the texts. For many, this allows the text to come alive for the first time! It is the perfect translation allowing reflection and personal devotion. It is also the first translation to look and read like what 1st-century Christians would have heard if they lived in the 21st century.

THE NEW PEACE TREATY not only helps Christians read and understand the Bible, it is the perfect translation for those who are not Christian. It is hoped that this translation is a type of “Pentecost in print,” allowing readers to understand in their own language what Jesus and the Apostles preached and taught. God does not speak to us in some archaic tongue and then holds accountable for what we do not understand. God wants us to understand the Word – the same Word who came to us as one of us and speaks to us in our own language.

Excerpt

JOHN’S REVELATION

1             This is the message God has given to Jesus the Anointed King, so that he could reveal it to all those who serve God. God has predetermined to make everything contained in this message happen very soon! Jesus chose to reveal this message by sending an angel to his servant, John, who transmitted everything that he understood about God’s Word and Jesus the Anointed King like someone who has taken the witness stand and who is under oath. Those who get to read this message when the church is gathered for worship, and who take what is said in this prophecy to heart, are blessed because the designated time is almost here.From: JohnTo: The seven churches in AsiaMay your lives be filled with the grace and peace that comes from the one who is, the one who was, and the one who is yet to come; and also from the seven spirits that are in front of his throne; and from Jesus the Anointed King, who has faithfully born witness to him, and who is the first person to be permanently raised from the dead, and who is the ruler over the kings of the earth. He is the one who loves us and who has used his blood to give us all clean slates. He made us into a kingdom! He made us ordained clergy for God, his Father! Glory and sovereignty are his forever and ever! Amen.
Listen to this! He’s coming with the clouds!
Every eye will see him,
Even those who pierced him.
All the people of the earth will mourn for him.
Yes!
Amen.
“I am the letter A to the letter Z,” says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is yet to come, the one who governs the entire universe.It’s me, John, your brother in the faith. I share in the same difficult circumstances that all of you are experiencing. I also share in the same Kingdom, and in the patient endurance that comes with loyalty to Jesus. I happened to be on the island called Patmos because I have passed on everything about God’s Word and Jesus, just like someone who has taken the witness stand and who is under oath. I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day, when I heard a loud voice behind me that sounded like a trumpet. It said, “Write down what you are about to see in a book and then send it to the seven churches in Asia. Send it to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea!”

 

didache cover

The Didache: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

The Didache means “The Teaching” – Christian traditions has claimed that “The Teaching” is nothing less than the teaching of the Twelve Apostles to the early-Church. The Didache was considered by many in the early-Church as part of the New Testament. It fell out of the New Testament as time passed, but continued to serve as a Christian manual. The Didache was lost for centuries until 1873, when a Greek manuscript was rediscovered. The Didache serves as an important historical document in the early-Church, as well as providing solutions to practical Church questions such as does a person have to be dunked during baptism, or can water simply be poured over the head? This copy has been translated by R. Joseph Owles from the Greek into every day, contemporary language, and is formatted in a way that makes it easy to both read and understand.

Excerpt

Chapter One
There are two ways: one of life and one of death – and there is a big difference between the two.
The Way of Life[i]
This is the way of life:
  1. Love God, who made you. [ii]
  2. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
  3. Do not do anything to another person that you do not want to happen to you.
Living the Way of Life
This is the teaching about how to do those things listed above:
  1. Speak well of those who speak badly about you.
  2. Pray for your enemies.
  3. Fast for those who harass you because what credit do you deserve if you love those who love you. Everyone, even those who do not believe does that, do they not?
  4. Love those who hate you and you will have no enemies.
  5. Abstain from physical and bodily cravings.
  6. If someone hits you on your right cheek, offer him your left cheek too and you will be perfect.
  7. If someone forces you to go one mile, then go two miles.
  8. If someone takes your coat, give him the shirt off your back too.
  9. If someone takes something that belongs to you, do not ask for it back, because you can’t do that.
  10. Give to everyone who asks something from you and do not demand it back because the Father wants his gifts to be distributed to everyone. (Anyone who can give like this is blessed and is not guilty.)
  11. It is bad for the one who receives.
That is, anyone who receives while in need is not guilty. But anyone who is not in need, who receives, is like a thief who should be locked up until he confesses and pays back for what he has stolen. He won’t be freed until he has paid the last penny. Nevertheless, it has been said, “Let your gift sweat in your hand until you know to whom you are to give it.”
[i] This and subsequent headings have been added by me and are not part of the text of the Didache.
[ii]. The numbers that are inserted here in this rendering are not meant to be verses, but a logical numbering in a listing of items. I thought it was actually easier to see these as Christian “commandments” to have them listed, and in this translator’s opinion, they have more impact listed rather than being in a paragraph made up of long sentences.

 

catholic but not roman orthodox but not eastern

CATHOLIC But Not Roman, ORTHODOX But Not Eastern: An Introduction To The Old Catholic Church

What if there were a valid Catholic Church that allowed priests to marry, where divorce was not treated like an unforgiveable sin, where birth control and contraception were regarded as a personal decision and a matter of individual conscience, where divorced and remarried individuals were still allowed access to the Sacraments, where EVERY baptized individual were welcomed to receive the Eucharist, a Catholic Church where women were ordained as deacons, priests, and bishops, and where you were welcomed just as you are, regardless of who you are? What if such a Catholic Church existed? Would you be interested? Would you like to know more about it?

The Old Catholic Church has maintained valid Apostolic Succession, administers valid Sacraments, and is guided by Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture – a church that is not Protestant or a “break away” church, but is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CATHOLIC in its tradition, practice, and theology? The Old Catholic Church has maintained valid Apostolic Succession and uses Roman liturgy. In fact, The Roman Catholic Church and The Old Catholic Church are nearly identical in much of their tradition, worship, and doctrine. There are only two doctrinal differences that separate them.

This book is useful for Roman Catholics who are dismayed at the rate of progress and change in their church, Roman Catholics who may be divorced and feel excluded from their church and its Sacraments, or anyone interested in Church History and learning about a Fully Catholic alternative to the Roman Catholic Church.

All books by R. Joseph Owles are available here: https://www.amazon.com/R.-Joseph-Owles/e/B00EPLZ1MM

 

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