We Want Peace

“We live in a culture that places a high value on being busy,” writes Rev. Dr. Judy Morley. “We go through life sleep deprived, stressed out and worried that we didn’t finish everything, despite getting more done than was thought humanly possible just a generation ago. We have become human doings instead of human beings.”

It’s no wonder that interest in things like off-grid living, tiny house projects, and container gardening are on the rise. We have succumbed to a spirit of busyness and our inner spirit is growing weary of the chaos. We want solutions. We want relief. We want peace.

But we have it backwards. Our creator says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Divine guidance, hope, faith, inspiration, encouragement, direction), and everything you need will be added to your life. But our priorities have shifted to a predominately materialistic point of view. We seek first everything we think we want or need and then ask God to bless it. Morley says, “We replace diving guidance with frantic action and hope that our effort will produce enough results to compensate for our lack of inspiration.” We have to get out of the spin-cycle before it chokes our soul completely.

One way to do this is to practice lingering. In moments of love, beauty, laughter, etc., don’t rush to check them off your list; linger. Stay in the moment. Allow them to make an impression. As the March 11th entry for the devotional, God Calling, describes, “Look for beauty and joy (intentionally seek) in the world around. Look at a flower until its beauty becomes part of your soul (linger). It will be given back to the world again by you in the form of a smile or a loving word or a kind thought or prayer (paying it forward).” Listen intently to the song of a bird, or the rustling of the leaves on a tree. Take a few extra minutes to gaze at the clouds or the stars. Dip your hand in a stream and experience the water flowing through your fingers.

In these moments, linger, and soak in the Divine creation for it’s incredible power to bless you as you pause. These moments have the ability to shift your mind back towards a simpler life if you will practice them often enough. And they can return you to a state of calm and peace. Otherwise, a life void of these moments will starve the heart and eventually destroys the soul.

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Flying On Autopilot

The autopilot function was invented sometime in the early 30s to help ease the rigors of transatlantic flights for military bomber plane pilots. Any pilot today will certainly vouch for the value of this significant contribution to flight navigation. The autopilot function in life however is not quite as helpful. A plane can fly without the captain at the wheel while the autopilot is engaged. My life however, doesn’t fly so well without the captain’s hands on the wheel of my day to day excursions. It’s such an easy button to push though isn’t it? And when we put our lives on autopilot, we tend to cruise along unconsciously, thinking everything is okay. But what happens when we check back into the cockpit and find that we’re considerably off course? I hate that. It’s a chaotic feeling. It’s almost like those moments after waking up from a bad dream and trying to decide if it was real or not. There’s a better way to avoid all of that though if we’ll stay present and conscious of who should really be flying our plane. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart,” said the writer of Proverbs. “Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Sounds like a pretty good plan to me.

 

Mining Your Soul

What comes to mind when you hear the term soul searching?

I found this definition intriguing; “The act of facing one’s inmost self with courage, determined to bring every ulterior thought, emotion, and motive to light.” (wiki.answers.com)

Have you done any soul searching lately? Why does it matter, you might ask? “Not evaluating those thoughts that we purposely deceive ourselves to believe, corrupts our soul … the greatest evil in the world is self-deception, because self-deception preys on the troubled soul.”

Thomas Merton wrote, “Your life is shaped by the ends you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.” Do you know what those ends are? What do you desire? Most days we run on autopilot not stopping to give one thought to the whys and wherefores. Hopefully by now you understand that the control center of your life originates within your thoughts and ideas, resulting in the day in and day out choices you make. When’s the last time you spent some time alone with yourself – mining your soul – connecting to the Spirit within, and seeking His divine guidance for your life? Every choice produces a consequence. Are you living from a solid foundation – choosing from a place of confidence – or mostly shooting from the hip? William Bernard Ullathorne wrote, “A soul that is patient waits with calm endurance for light before acting … where the mind waits patiently for light, sooner or later it is sure to come. (However) If you go blindly into action you will be sure to repent it.”

Patience is a virtue many of us struggle to demonstrate. But time and time again philosophy and religion reminds us that patience, calm, and endurance are the keys to a grounded and productive life. Those attributes come from the deep regions of your soul. Go find them.

Are We There Yet?

At a men’s conference in late 2006, one of our assignments was to take some personal time to get away and reflect. We were at a lodge in the mountains of Virginia, so the natural path was up a mountain trail. I found a old, tall Oak tree and took a seat in a pile of leaves. Like any good student, I took out my Bible and journal and began to read and write. I wrote mostly questions – to God – and then proceeded to answer them as best as I thought He would. Sounds kind of humorous now that I think about it. Eventually though, I heard this whisper in my spirit; “Are you done yet?” After some wrestling with what I knew was God prompting me to get quiet and listen; I put down my pen and sat there restlessly for the next 25 minutes. Finally, a passage came to my heart; Hebrews 3:13. I flipped through the pages of my Bible, landing on these words; ” … encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today …” That was it. I knew then that those simple words would be my life’s mission. And I came down ready to get started. Was I in for an experience!

Later that fall I read a piece from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost For His Highest (July 6) that has proved to be quite true, and helpful, over these past seven years. “We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation. God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God! He is never in a hurry.”

What is your vision? What has God laid on your heart for the journey of your life? Has it been made real yet? If not, it’s okay, trust me. The past seven years have been an amazing journey into myself with God as the trail guide. But it hasn’t been easy, and I’m pretty sure the vision hasn’t been made completely real yet either. Today God reminded me again of that mountain top experience as he led me to this entry from the Jesus Calling devotional for August 22. “You live in the middle of a fierce spiritual battle, and fear is one of Satan’s favorite weapons.”

We all need hope and encouragement. It’s what we really need to find the strength for this life, more than ever. So be encouraged today. While the world is set against you, God is for you, always has been, always will be. And the vision will be made real in his perfect timing.

The Unfolding Life

We so often struggle trying to coming to terms with who we are, and what we are to do while we are here on earth. When Jesus tells the disciples the greatest command is to “love your God, and to love your neighbor – as yourself,” we often overlook the as yourself part. If you haven’t learned to embrace your own journey and the fact that you are always changing, it’s mighty hard to love yourself. More often than not we are at war with ourselves; trying to hang onto some flag we’ve planted on some hill somewhere. Call it a career, a retirement plan, a vacation home, or just maintaining an image you think everyone expects you to portray. It’s a battle that generally isn’t worth fighting.

Ever wonder what would happen if we just laid down our sword and quit trying so hard to be something we were never meant to be? I mean, maybe there is another flow to life that feels more like a lazy stream than a raging river. Life is going to change anyway. And you are going to change anyway. Age has a funny way of doing that to us. Bill Thrall, author of the book The Cure, writes, “Nothing you believe and depend upon is more magnificently freeing than this single truth; you are no longer who you were, even on your worst say.” Isn’t that reassuring?

Each day has a whole new set of opportunities to embrace life and to learn to love yourself. When you do, that is when authentic life begins to flow forth and you no longer are attached to the fruit of life. You no longer seek blessings – you just seek to know the author of the blessings and life as it unfolds.

The Human Experience

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are Spiritual beings having a human experience.” Maybe you should read that again.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are Spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Let that statement sink in for a minute.

Think about this; God told the prophet Jeremiah, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

Most of us live life as human beings trying to understand spirituality. But the reality is, we existed before we got here. What we struggle with on this journey here on earth is our understanding of what it means to be human. What we often call a mid-life crisis is really a crisis of identity. Our quest for understanding has been from the wrong angle. Of course, the human journey can be frustrating. Remember, Jesus warned, … “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)

But, this journey we call life is really about us as spiritual beings learning how to be human. And too often we attach our worth and value as a person to the peripheral things of life. We are then only as good as the outcome. And thus prevailing circumstances or supervisory individuals in our lives have control over how we see ourselves and value ourselves as a human being. When we realize that the outcome of the circumstances are merely outcomes – and that it’s really all part of our evolutionary journey, we can then have peace, and joy, and even happiness in the midst of the present circumstances. They don’t define us or validate us. Therefore they cannot confine or invalidate us either.

Living Your Natural Bent

A spiritual look at economics:

“If you find your natural bent, your inclination, what we will call your life gifts, then you can find the things that you enjoy and most likely do well.” David Stark

“The Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts.” (Exodus 35:31)

During this time of economic uncertainty, could it be a great time to reevaluate where we are in life? Is a shift in career, even if it’s not your choice, an opportunity to realign yourself with the Kingdom, and God’s plan for your life? God gives each of us talents and gifts, and “expertise in all kinds of crafts” for a reason. Someone with the gift of being a great communicator to people might not be using their “craft” to it’s full potential laying pipe in Alaska. If they’re happy there, great. If they’re not, why? Notice the writer of Exodus starts by saying Bezalel was filled with the Spirit of God, first. That’s where we need to start; by getting in touch with the Spirit within us, and asking for and gleaning our “natural bent” from Him. By learning that, then we can move more towards the walk He has for us instead of the one many find themselves in; one of complacency and unrest.

Have you ever compared what you do with what you’re good at?

Do they line up?

Can you exercise your greatest God given talents where you are in life, or do you feel like they are being neglected?