Choose to Bloom – No Matter What!

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The truth is that I would prefer to choose where I was planted rather than where I bloomed.  But life’s not wrapped up with a shiny bow like that!  In fact, many aspects of life are not chosen.  We don’t get to select our parents, our skin color or place of birth.  Things which turn out to be pretty significant in life.

However, we do get to choose our responses.  Free will is one of the greatest blessings or curses depending on how you look at it.  As 2017 has already started emerging on the planet, we stand at a new threshold.  2016 has revealed some of the ugliest underpinnings of the human experience both domestically and abroad.  A New Year presents new opportunities to make new choices.  We can’t always choose where we’re planted, but we can make a decision to bloom anyway.

A prayer for 2017

When life requires bold strokes,

May we meet the threshold with

Courage and Bravery.

When tensions rise and tempers flare,

May the power of Grace + Peace

Put out the flames.

May we rise to unite

When division threatens to undo us

And may we re-find our voice

And blend the hot tremors of our harshest tenors

To speak with each other again.

Lola Audu

Knowing the difference between Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding.

“Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom. And with all thy getting get understanding”

Proverbs 4:7

There are few messages more powerful and necessary in the world of business today. The business world is one that is filled with power (or ambition), mystery, intrigue, theft, betrayal, loss and victory. Contrary to what many assume, it is a highly spiritual world and all experienced practitioners know this to one degree or another.

So, when the proverb says, get wisdom – this counsel is vital for life, success, protection and progress. Understanding is also necessary and is differentiated by the fact that while knowledge reveals facts, understanding gives context and insight into why a fact is pertinent to a situation or person.

Sometimes, we get a gut check about something or someone and can’t fathom the reason why. It is understanding that allows us the insight to know the reason behind the hesitation and why ‘the check’ is important to our situation in particular.

I have found that acquiring wisdom can be very costly, but infinitely worth the effort. Wisdom is what helps me to know what to do next or how to correct mistakes. In fact, the costliest mistakes are not the ones you pay for and learn from; rather, they are those you never catch or understand – and thereby continue to be ravaged by.

Acquiring understanding helps us to gain a comprehensive picture of the situation and/or individual; this level of insight now becomes an intrinsic part of one’s being. It also provides a strong basis of clarity for the future.

Ultimately, God is the Provider of wisdom because only He knows completely, the thoughts and intentions of the human heart – including my own. #wisdom #understanding #insight #inspiration © 2016

Strong Food – Super Nutrition

“Because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a Father the son he delights in.” Hebrews 12:6

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Not all foods are equal.  In fact, today many of the processed foods we eat are not really food at all.  Some are solely the creation of scientists in chemical laboratories mixing together flavor profiles and artificial ingredients to create concoctions that incite the senses through the wizardry of mimicking real food.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of mimicry in the practice of the Christian faith today. I was stunned to hear a statistic that indicates that the average Evangelical Christian who indicates they attend church regularly, visits a house of worship about once a month.  If we were having ‘church’ in our homes, that might not be so problematic.  But, many do not read the Bible on a regular basis and prayer is a real struggle.

I don’t think this is coincidental.  God’s word is spiritual sustenance.  Prayer is like the fuel which charges our souls through connection with God.  Going without both for sustained periods of time is akin to spiritual starvation.  When the assault against vital health has severely weakened the health into bare life support, only watered down nutrition will even be tolerated. So while milk is a complete food and OK for babies who need to be carefully weaned to solids, it was never intended to be the sole or main support of adult nutrition.

A lack of interest in spiritual things – reading the Bible, prayer- often operates in tandem with lots of time for trivial pursuits and mindsets that are at cross purposes with what God desires to grow us into with Strong Nutrition.

Discipline for me is God’s way of bringing me back to my right mind.  We will all go through periods of trials and testing.  That’s just part of life.  However, a test is meant to be passed and the transforming power of God is able to transform the victim into the victor.

This summer has been rough with the passing of my beloved mother and the emotional trauma for our family.  It has been a strong primer from our Heavenly Father to learn about areas which needed attention and reassessment. However, I can also see that God has been disciplining me and my family through this process and I am a different person as a result.  For this I remain humbled and grateful.

Strong food, like strong discipline is not given to the immature.  If God chooses to discipline, it is a sign of His deep love.  He alone knows who you are and who you can become.  Just as a muscle requires exercise and training to strengthen to it’s fullest capacity, so too do Children of God require tuning and pruning to show up and shine right in an increasingly dark world.

Living in Congruity…

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.

I am not bound to succeed,  but I am bound to live up to what light I have”

By Abraham Lincoln.

In his deeply insightful book,  ‘The Laws of Spirit’ author Dan Millman initiates the chapter on‘Integrity…Living Our Truth’ with the above statement by Abraham Lincoln.  In this section Millman explores how humans live outside their true being and how at odds this artifice remains within the norms of nature.

“Unlike the creatures of the natural world, humans are surrounded by social artifice, cut off from their own true natures.” (The Laws of Spirit by Dan Millman)

Can you imagine how incongruous it would be if our dogs insisted on meowing like cats and our cats fancied barking like dogs?  What if birds neglected the glory of flight and chose to hop around on twig legs instead? Or if the sun decided that darkness was more comfortable than the brilliance of light? What if fish determined that being submerged by all that water was simply stifling?

Totally reprehensible?  Absolutely! 

So is Incongruity.

Living in Congruity

Requires that I simply strive

To Be Only  Exactly Who I am.

The Solace of Solitude…

Modern life grates.

Constant commotion

 Noise.

The scraping motions of connection.

The soul seeks relief.

A moment of peace & quiet.

The Solace of Solitude.

In the midst of Frenzy,

Quietness

Within

Stillness

Clear enough to hear…

A still small voice.

On Simplicity…

We’ve all had the experience of over-eating and suffering a tummy ache as a result.   When the feast before our eyes overwhelms our better judgement, it’s easy to turn off the natural sensors which tell us that we’ve had enough.

But we pay for it long after the tickling sensations which enticed our taste buds have been satiated.  It is during these moments of miserable regret that we ache for simple things.   The simplicity of being able to eat without pangs of pain and digest without regurgitation.

Excess is not limited to the arena of food, it’s become a large staple of modern western life.   Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been studying the discipline of Spiritual Simplicity.   The movement towards a life grounded in integrity and truthfulness…

The challenge of Simplicity is simply this…we love our excess; even when we know it is not good for us.  The mega movement in Christianity today has produced the fastest growing, largest  churches in the history of America.

But what is the result of the excess?  How has excessive growth in the physical dimension impacted the transformation of our culture?  And to what degree is simplicity merely another form of outward process which creates a false legalism that shields our conscience from the areas that really matter?

In some ways, I think simplicity is complex…it’s far more nuanced than the wider path which seems so tempting in an arena of abundance. I think that  Simplicity is calling to an inner state of being…not merely a thing to do.

It’s a shedding, stripping and pruning which opens up the cluttered regions of a stuffed up existence so we can breathe and enjoy life fully and abundantly once again.  But it will not necessarily come easily…something as solid as simplicity requires a dedication of commitment and focus.  In other words a singleness of mind & body which we instinctively crave but often ignore.

Picture is courtesy of madelinetosh on flickr.com

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The Art of Meditation…

12171_RAIN DROPSWhat do you know about meditation?  The response to my question was largely blank stares from the folks in the class this Sunday.  This was not really surprising as to most modern day Christians, the practice of meditation is a lost discipline or worse…one associated with traditions which are not aligned with the Christian faith.

But, the truth is that the Bible speaks about mediation; there are over 20 specific references.   One of the first references is about Isaac meditating just prior to his first encounter with his future wife Rebecca.  In the book of Joshua 1:8, God tells the Israelites to meditate on on His Word during the day and night so they will be careful to obey it.   David starts the book of Psalms and in verse 2 refers to the blessings of meditating on the law of God.  In fact, David speaks about mediation several times.

We all meditate.  Meditation is simply the process of contemplation and deep reflection.  The question is WHAT are we meditating on…what’s the focus of our meditation.  For many of us, the focus of our deep and on-going reflection is the stuff we worry about.  We fret about the issues of our lives…what we will eat, what we will wear, what will happen tomorrow.  Jesus had something to say about this type of meditation…Don’t do it!

Instead, the Bible instructs us to mediate on the Word of God and to reflect on His goodness.  There are many ways in which we can incorporate the practice of meditation into our daily devotional life.  Meditation as a discipline can supercharge your prayer life by helping you to still your mind so that you can focus more completely on God and attach yourself to His truth and the guidance of His Word.

For the modern day Christian, one of the most attractive benefits of mediation is the guidance that seems to bubble up within us when our minds are stilled from the ceaseless, abstract relentless stream of thought that consumes our lives.  Through meditation we learn the true meaning of ‘being still and knowing God’.  In the stillness there comes guidance for the issues which affect our lives.  In this sense, Christian meditation is a way for us to download divine instructions for the everyday challenges we face and to gain insights which are not readily discernible in the hectic pace of everyday life.

Wikepedia reference on Christian Meditation

Christian Meditation…is it really Christian?