Archive for the ‘Religion and Spirituality’ Tag

It’s All Still in There


We are all destined to do something great. For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. We are full of incredible potential. When God created us, He deposited seeds of greatness inside of us. He gave us our own dreams and desires. We each one have something to offer that no one else has. But too often, we allow adversities, disappointments and setbacks to push these things down, until one day; we find that we are not pressing forward anymore. We are not stretching; we do not believe we are capable of rising any higher.

When adversity comes, it’s easy to think, “Why is this happening to me?” The answer is because the enemy knows what is on the inside of you. He is going to do everything he can to keep that seed from taking root. But, he will only be successful if you let him. He cannot stop you unless you quit. During the difficult times, remember that the gifts and callings God has placed within us are still there. Don’t become stagnate in pursuing your dreams. It is time to get your fire back! It is time to press forward. It is time to dig deep inside and take hold of the marvelous destiny God has prepared for us!

Knowledge about God


The question who created God? This is a major objection that atheists put forward to justify their disbelief. Bertrand Russell in his essay, Why I am not a Christian, put this forward as his first objection. Today’s atheists repeat the objection, including Richard Dawkins. Australia’s Philip Adams said, “The great argument for God was that there had to be a Creation, a beginning. … But my objection is simple…If God was the beginning, who began God?

The universe had a beginning; almost no one disputes that, because the laws of thermodynamics demand it. The universe is running down and it cannot have been running down forever, or it would have already run down. No stars would be still churning out energy and we would not be here. Some propose one universe giving birth to another, but again, there cannot be an infinite series of such births and deaths, as each cycle must have less energy available than the last and if this had been happening for eternity, the death of everything would have already happened.

There must have been a beginning. One of the most established principles of logic, science, reality is the principle of causality: something that has a beginning has a sufficient cause. The principle is not, ‘Everything has a cause’; Bertrand Russell misstated it. No, the principle is, ‘Everything that has a beginning has a sufficient cause’. Just a moment’s thought confirms this—something which had no beginning has no need of a cause. Furthermore, a cause has to be sufficient, or adequate. ‘You were found in a cabbage patch’ is not a sufficient explanation for your existence.

This principle of causation is so fundamental that if I said that the chair you are sitting on, which must have had a beginning, just popped into existence without any cause, you might justifiably think I need a psychiatric assessment! Today’s atheists, who like to use words like ‘rational’, ‘reasonable’ and ‘scientific’ in describing their beliefs, believe that the greatest beginning of all—that of the universe—had no cause whatsoever! Some admit it is a problem, but they claim that saying ‘God did it’ explains nothing because you then have to explain where God came from. But is this a valid objection?

The cause of the universe must have been non-material because if the cause was material/natural, it would be subject to the same laws of decay as the universe. That means it would have to have had a beginning itself and you have the same problem as cycles of births and deaths of universes. So the cause of the universe’s beginning must have been super-natural, that is to say, non-material or spirit—a cause outside of space-matter-time. Such a cause would not be subject to the law of decay and so would not have a beginning. That is, the cause had to be eternal spirit. Furthermore, the cause of the universe had to be incredibly powerful; the sheer size and energy seen in the universe together speak of that power; there had to be a sufficient cause. That sounds like the God to me. The Creator of the universe is eternal. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Here God created time itself; only one, who is outside of time, that is, timeless, or eternal, could do this.

Now to ask where someone who is eternal, someone who had no beginning, came from ‘Who created God?’ is like asking, ‘To whom is the bachelor married?’ It is an irrational question.

Those who reject the Creator not only have to believe that matter came into being without any cause; they also have to believe that life itself popped into existence without an adequate cause.

Even the simplest single-celled life is stupendously complex. A humble bacterium is full of incredibly sophisticated nano-machines that it needs to live. A cell needs a minimum of over 400 different proteins to make the machines that are absolutely essential for life. How could these protein-based machines make themselves, even if all the right ingredients about 20 different amino acids, but many of each could make themselves? The amino acids, often thousands of them, have to be joined together in the correct order for each protein to function.

Think about one essential machine that copies the DNA instructions for making each protein. Then let us take just one protein component of that machine, less than 10% of the total. This protein is 329 amino acids in length. What would be the chance of getting this one protein by chance, assuming that the correct and only the correct, amino acid ingredients were present? Calculate it this way: 1/20 x 1/20 x 1/20 … 329 times! This is a probability of 1 in 10428 … a number with 428 zeros after the 1! Even if every atom in the universe (1080—a number with 80 zeros) represented an experiment for every molecular vibration possible (1012 per second) for the supposed evolutionary age of the universe (14 billion years=1018 seconds), this would allow ‘only’ 10110 experiments—a long, long way short of the number needed to have a ghost of a chance of getting just this one protein to form, let alone the over 400 others needed.

We marvel at the scientists who are discovering the nano-technology in living things and it is an astonishing enterprise. But what of the One who invented these things? How much more intelligent is He? It’s no wonder that Richard Dawkins admits that scientists might never work out how life could arise by natural processes. Nevertheless, he rejects the creation explanation for the fallacious reason above. Now what sort of cause is sufficient to explain the origin of life? The cause must be incredibly intelligent—far beyond our intelligence. We marvel at the scientists who are discovering the nano-technology in living things and it is an astonishing enterprise. But what of the One who invented these things? How much more intelligent is He? This reminds me of another characteristic of the God whom the Bible reveals: He is omniscient or all knowing.

We know sufficient about the Creator from His creation to be without excuse. God’s invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse, for although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and here is the explanation why otherwise intelligent people choose to believe impossible things—that firstly the universe, then life, just popped into existence without any adequate cause. They choose to illogically accept that their two ‘great beginnings’ had no sufficient cause, rather than acknowledge and honor their Creator.

Soul and Spirit are Distinct


There is something that makes humanity distinct from all the other creations. Human beings were intended to have a relationship with God, and as such, God created us with both material and immaterial parts. The material is obviously that which is tangible; namely, the physical body, bones, and organs and exists as long as the person is alive. The immaterial aspects are those which are intangible like soul, spirit, intellect, will, and conscience. These exist beyond the physical lifespan of the individual.

We have both material and immaterial characteristics. It is clear that all mankind has a body containing flesh, blood, bones, organs, and cells. However, it is the intangible qualities of mankind that are often debated. Heart is central to man’s will and emotions. Fulfill duty in all good conscience. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of mind. These are the various aspects of the immaterial part of humanity. We all share both material and immaterial qualities.

Scripture outlines far more than just soul and spirit. Somehow, the soul, spirit, heart, conscience, and mind are connected and interrelated. The soul and spirit, though, definitely are the primary immaterial aspects of humanity. They likely comprise the other aspects. The word of God is living and active. It is sharper than any double-edged sword. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Spirit in Greek means breath having extended meanings beyond that basic sense. It can also mean wind; the vital force in living creatures; one’s spirit; spirit persons, including God and his angelic creatures; and God’s active force, or Holy Spirit. Soul is a person, an animal, or the life that a person or an animal enjoys. Soul and spirit are distinct. The spirit should not be confused with the soul, for they refer to different things. The Hebrews 4:12 speaks of the Word of God as ‘piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and their marrow. As has been shown, the soul is the creature itself. The spirit generally refers to the life-force of the living creature. The division of soul and spirit is something that only God can discern. Rather than focusing on something we cannot know for sure, it is better for us to focus on the Creator, who has made us fearfully and wonderfully.


Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you~Marsha Norman


Now Is The Time!



We all have a unique destiny, vision and purpose. Purpose – a reason for an action, deliberate plan, a proposition, an intention, a design we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Destiny – Intended for some special purpose, where we are heading for, journey. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Lord before the world began. Vision – to foresee and perceive what lies ahead, divine, insight, prophetic insight, how you go about in accomplishing the purpose. Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that kept the law, happy is he. We are here because our presence on the planet is essential at this extraordinary time in history. Opening to a vision creates a synergy that is powerful and dynamic. There is a vibrant mission that is calling us all to higher ground and to more deeply loving and profound experiences. Each one of us has a unique capacity to be of service to the community and world at large. Our only job is to uncover our core power, gifts and talents and activate a willingness to serve in expansive ways.

There are no obstacles to our greatness. There has never been an event that defines our future. We have never experienced anything that can stop us from soaring into a greater yet to be. The only limitations are in our thinking. Exciting experiences awaits us, the moment we look at life through the lens of infinite possibilities. An open-hearted communication builds bridges of understanding and expansion. We are all called to commune and to communicate with the intent of breaking down walls of fear and doubt. The heart is intelligent and when we learn to listen and share from the heart space, peace is the outcome for all.

The power of creativity, compassion, and the resilient brain is healing and transformational. Empathy connects to the inner life of another person. It has been shown to improve every physical system in the body like immune, cardiovascular, and organ systems. The more interest a doctor expresses in the inner life of a patient, that is to say, how that patient experiences their illness rather than symptomology, the more likely a positive outcome. According to Dr. Siegel, the key to optimal healing is the connecting inner life to inner life. This means that doctors, teachers, therapists, parents, clergy must be in touch with their own inner lives. He called it practicing medicine, parenting, marrying, etc. from the inside out.

Storytelling is the most ancient and powerful way of reciprocal sharing inner life with another. Any of the non-verbal expressive media serve the same purpose. But we are narrative creatures, seeking meaning in our experience. This is the realm of story. Story making, in its very nature, creates wholeness and integration. It holds conflict in the form of characters and situations in a larger container, and allows these conflicts to play out and resolve themselves naturally as a new story emerges. As storyteller of our lives, we are also the integrating consciousness.

The healing community that forms in story groups, or any other healing relationship based on a right-brain modality; not therapy necessarily, unless it has these qualities of creativity and inner life to inner life, be it authentic movement, expressive dance, free form visual arts, music making and listening, yoga, reiki, mindfulness meditation, equine therapy, shamanic chant, etc. becomes the container that holds a person and gives their brain an integrative environment, time, and space to heal itself and the integrative fibers to regrow. Storytelling and witness gives each person a sense of safety, belonging, and dignity, so necessary to thriving.

Working with intuition, which is strengthened by the receptivity involved in creative process, makes us even more aware and responsive to toxicity in other people and situations. In these story groups, which are built on the sensory elements of time, environment, character, situation, and storyteller, we become very attentive to where we are, what we are doing, and the often unconscious motivations and inner lives of others. Story experiencing life as an unfolding story with us as the witness and storyteller is spiritual practice.

Expressive modalities like writing, dance and other expressive movement, visual art, music create a state of healthy alertness, relaxation, and release. It feels like joy. It is the state of flow; which is synonymous with the dynamic Self versus ego delineated by ancient wisdom traditions and modern psychologists, including Jung and his followers. In the mythic journey, the heart and soul of story approach the highest evolved archetype is the jester, who holds the whole truth of existence; both its light and shadow within a non-harming joke and a good laugh.

There is a divine and infinite substance that is always creating. The essence of this energy is love and compassion. It is the very stuff of which we are all made. Therefore, we can, in any moment, access this energy and be transformative agents for this world. Powerful choices create powerful lives. Every moment is an opportunity to choose life, love, peace, harmony and joy. Every moment is a call to awaken to our inherent nature. Every moment offers the chance to step through a portal of magnificent living. Now is the time! Stand up! Find your voice! Step up and live out loud!


The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe – Gustave Flaubert

 

 

Listen to Silence & Learn from Silence

To most of us, silence only comes when we close our eyes and turn in for the night. Even when we are listening, our minds churn an inner dialogue; like, we are deciding what we will say next, contemplating the way the speaker’s mouth is moving, thinking about what is for lunch. A healthy fix of silence, whether it is a week-long retreat or a few, simple moments focusing on the breath could do miracles.

In many eastern traditions, observing silence is an integral practice. Not speaking and turning inward is thought to bring peace, clarity and spiritual purity. In the west, even during secular events, moments of silence is practiced to respect and reflect. In our hyper-connected, buzzing world where there is a constant soundtrack to our lives; be it a whizzing car, the bark of a dog or the low hum of a computer at work, you’ll have to seek silence deliberately in order to reap its benefits. Your relationship with quiet and the act of restoring could improve your skills when it comes to work, friendships and happiness.

Creative types swear by silence. It is a stark reminder of the difference between what is worth saying and what isn’t. It is the perfect editor for the creative soul. Creativity is a side effect of meditation. In silence, we gain perspective on what matters, and can more comfortably do away with the non-essentials. When you spend time just being present and observing your breath, thoughts, feelings, and moment-to-moment experience, we start to realize how trivial most of our daily worries really are. In the midst of the daily grind, one can let go of the small stuff, and keep the big picture in view.

Silence is therapeutic. We need silence for sanity. The level of noise that we live with really closes us down. We have very little peace and quiet. Silence is not just no noise; silence is peace and quiet and peace and quiet is beautiful. When we find peace and quiet, we think clearly, feel clearly and the body rejuvenates itself. We don’t know what to do with the free time that quiet offers. Our lives are busy and structured. The healing process needs a simple figuring out of how we want to spend our afternoon without distraction to fall back on.

Silence is a catalyst for focus. We have all felt the need for library-quiet when struggling to concentrate, but being in quiet, takes practice. Being quiet can make one thoughtful. In silence, we can hear our soul speak. Without the surface noise, the insignificant chatter will default to mute. It is often the quiet ones who out-produce everyone else. Silence can make one a better listener. We are losing our listening skill. There is plenty to be distracted by, and as a result our skill to really pay attention is weak. Listening is access to understanding. Just three minutes a day of silence is a wonderful exercise to reset your ears and to recalibrate so that you can hear the quiet again. If you can’t get absolute silence, then go for quiet and that is absolutely fine.

Listening is one of the most difficult skills on this planet. It is very hard to stop mind from wandering. There are lots of reasons why it is so hard for us to be silent. We can always tell when someone is not giving you their complete attention. Practicing quiet, whether through retreat, meditation or just a few minutes unplugged, can prepare you as a professional and a friend to really hear.


Serve The Needy


Service is not about the size of the gift you give; it’s about the size of your heart when you give. Man strives to be the best, to be first, to be the strongest, and to be the richest. Man’s measure of greatest is to win, but winning is sublimating self to others and to serve with a heart of love and desiring for another to have the best and be the last to be served. To turn the water into wine after everyone had finished off what was thought to be the best wine. This has been one of the verses I have lived my life on and want to pass on to you. If you believe that you are created in God’s image, and every other human is too, that will translate in every facet of your life.

Why should we do things for others? Just to serve another of God’s image bearers. Service is an important part of life. Our words can never speak more loudly than our actions.

The amazing thing about serving others and giving is that it positively affects the giver. You can’t give to others without also reaping benefits yourself. When you see yourself as a servant leader, you will never lack for an audience to help. Remember that wherever you are in life, there is always someone you can help in some way. When you look for ways to help others, you’ll find that you are constantly blessed with things.

Revitalize others, stop to hear what people are saying to you, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, think before you speak, and above all, put on love as the supreme ethic whenever you interact with others.

Being truthful while being obnoxious is repulsive, but being truthful while loving is so attractive. It is not what you say, but how you say it is important. I want to pass this truth on to others and encourage more people to make kindness a way of life every day.

When we think of kindness, we assume that it has to be some grand act in order to account. Not so. Something as simple as a gentle word, a smile, or a small token can dramatically impact another person in a positive way. No matter how it may seem on the outside, we are all dealing with something. Your kindness may make all the difference to someone who is suffering or going through a difficult time. Service is not about the size of the gift you give. Rather, it is about the size of your heart when you give. It is about your intentions and the ripple effect of doing good.

Take a moment and think about what you can do each day to be of service to others. Before you begin each day, ask yourself, "How will I serve another today?"

Body, Mind & Spirit


Clarifying your aspiration, unconditional follow-through, never abdicating your authority, practicing absolute sincerity and being a good steward of your life are the five foundations bedrock on which the spiritual liberation rests. They should not be ignored, skimmed over, or taken lightly. In a very real sense, the five foundations are absolutely essential components of the liberation that apply after awakening as much as, if not more than, before it. Don’t be deceived into thinking that the five foundations are insignificant or rudimentary simply because they appear to be attuned more to the human, or relative, aspect of reality. The five foundations are a means of living and manifesting the ultimate nature of reality in daily life. If we do not live and manifest in our lives what we realize in our deepest moments of revelation, then we are living a split life.

Furthermore, clarifying your aspiration, unconditional follow-through, never abdicating your authority, practicing absolute sincerity and being a good steward of your life provides the context within which the liberation unfolds. Misinterpretation of a spiritual teaching by the ego is always a significant danger, since the ego’s tendency is to justify whatever points of view it is attached to and invested in.

To add to this danger, any spiritual teaching rooted in the absolute nature of reality is by definition oriented toward Truth, not toward the ethical and moral dimension of relative life. This does not mean that such teachings are immoral, it means that they are trans-moral; that is, rooted in a reality beyond the relative moral and ethical standards of the dualistic perspective.

This does not mean that all morality is rendered irrelevant in the absolute view; this is a common misunderstanding. It means that morality is no longer rooted in the cultural and religious values designed to rein in and control egoistic impulses. Instead, selfless love and compassion naturally flow out of the unified view of reality as spontaneous expressions of that unity. When nothing is seen to be separate or other than you, the actions that flow through you reflect that unified perspective.

It can get complicated because it is possible to have some experience of the ultimate nature of reality while at the same time not being completely free of egoistic delusion. This makes for the possible volatile mixture of reality and illusion simultaneously existing and expressing itself in an unconscious and distorted way. While some of this is to be expected as we are maturing in spirit, there are few things more distorted or dangerous than an ego that thinks it is God.

If these foundational aspects of the spiritual life are ignored, it will almost always derail one’s spiritual unfolding to some degree. A failure to explore and come to clarity about any one of these, as well as to consistently apply them, will result in ongoing inner and outer conflict and division at some level.

The five foundations are a means of gathering all of your inner resources—body, mind, and spirit—and focusing them in a unified way toward your highest aspiration. I cannot overemphasize the importance of having a clear unified focus, sincere heart, and an unwavering desire not to knowingly delude yourself or others.


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