Wonder

The sea is a completely different world than we experience everyday. Perhaps that’s why so many people love to escape by diving or snorkeling. Check out this amazing underwater video; it’s probably unlike anything you’ve seen before. Relax. Get your eyes off yourself. Contemplate the wonder of the world and the person who imagined it...

Are You An Artist?

In his book Linchpin, Seth Godin shares a concept I think has profound truth. An artist is someone who gives life to another. Wow–someone who gives life to another! This thought was foremost in my mind when I saw a little video shared on Facebook. It shows a Chinese man making cotton candy. He doesn’t just whip out the confectionary treat as fast as possible. He takes time to add love and life. The nameless man is an artist. He takes something very ordinary—cotton candy—and turns it into art. His creation is art because of the life and love he puts into it, blessing all who witness his craft. “Art isn’t only a painting.” Godin wrote. “Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator…An artists is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artists takes it personally. You ability to be an artist does not depend on your ability to draw or paint. It rests on your desire to love and give life to others. You are capable of making a difference, of being bold, and of changing more than you are willing to admit. You are capable of making art.
– Seth Godin Painting by Kristina Storey. For more information on her work, visit her website at: http://kristinastorey.com Originals and prints of Kris’s work are available at: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/kristina-storey.html Linchpin is available from: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/linchpin-seth-godin/1100054084?ean=9781591844099 Check out Seth Godin’s blog where he shares daily insights at:...

Christian Stereotypes...

“I hate when people assume certain things about me without getting to know who I am. You probably hate that too!” So said 20-something youth pastor and writer, Brett Shoemaker, in a recent online post. Brett enjoys challenging the status quo, being controversial and trying to think outside of the box. I like him already. Get Control Of Your Life is about generating great content to help you grow a strong and fruitful life. But it’s also about sharing other resources we find that contribute to the conversation and give us stuff to chew on. So today we share a link to “10 Christian Stereotypes I Hate” by Brett Shoemaker It might help you realize some of your stereotypes may need adjustments. Or it may help you escape the box you think you have to fit into. Royalty-free image by Michal Zacharzewski; retrieved from...

Feed Your Soul

How do you feed your soul? What gives you life instead of sucking life out of you? Just like you need food and sleep to be healthy, so you need to feed your soul! I enjoy quite Sunday mornings, time with friends, audio books, time in nature, and of course, music. I especially like to play my, “soul food” play list on Sundays and other times when I need to block out the world, quiet my soul, and focus spiritually. It’s a collection of music that touches my soul and encourages me. I love to take my dogs for hikes in the mountains, (though that doesn’t happen enough). I enjoy a cold beverage or two with close friends. I read books that are deep and shake me out of my little boxes. I take time each morning to nurture a devotional life. I sit, drink coffee, read and pray. It’s an awesome way to begin the day. What gives you life? What feeds your soul? Sometimes we are so focused on meeting others’ expectations, living up to obligations, and caring for others, that we fail to feed and care for ourselves. It is only by being healthy and well fed that you can truly give yourself to others. Think about what gives you life. Then schedule some time to it this week. Don’t give in to the, “I don’t have time,” argument. You can’t afford not to.   Photo by Solenberg; retrieved from...

Seek and Serve

I recently had a brush with my own mortality. I wasn’t aware of it, but I was told the surgery was just in time. Since then, I have been flooded with prayers and well wishes from literally hundreds of friends and acquaintances. It’s been overwhelming. And I’m grateful.

Never Enough

We’re never satisfied. Enough is never enough. Life seems to be a constant chase for filling what can never be filled. For some it’s food. For others it’s shopping, sex, drinking, being with people, working, or collecting. We never quite reach what we’re striving for. Seriously, how many pink shirts do you need in your closet? The Germans have a great word for this while English does not. Sehnsucht, is what we might describe as “addictive yearning.” Read on; this article isn’t what you think. The renowned 17th-century philosopher, inventor physicist and mathematician, Blaise Pascal is said to have written: “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God.” However, it seems that what he actually wrote in his Pensées (Thoughts) was more like the following: “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself” This unfulfilled longing can lead us to unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Franciscan Priest, Richard Rohr calls them addictions: “Addiction uses up our spiritual desire—the drive God put in us for total satisfaction, for home, for heaven, for divine union.” Many religious people view the “questing” part of our personalities as something God installed to drive us to him. HOWEVER, not everyone sees this unmet, addictive yearning as of God. Northern Irish philosopher...

How Do You Take Your Scriptures?

Varied interpretations of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian scriptures have been the center of controversy for centuries. Sunni and Shiite Muslims view the Qur’an very differently and defend their positions to the death (the cause of much us-vs- them hatred). In Jesus’ day, Pharisees and Sadducees rarely saw eye to eye. The sheer number of Christian denominations shows how people interpret passages differently. So how do you take YOUR scriptures? As a communication teacher, I know everyone interprets every situation through their own lens of personality, experience, culture and other variables. As a Christ follower, I understand people view passages differently. They even view the bible itself through different philosophical and cultural lenses. I know people who think that every time they open the bible, God directly talks to them in that moment. Instead of learning from the stories and trying to glean the principles, they over-personalize every passage to be some narcosistic work of God for them in that moment. As biblical professor emeritus Dr. Gordon Fee used to say, “It cannot say what it did not say.” In other words, you have to consider the original audience and intent of the author when reading the bible (or any text). I think a balanced perspective is well articulated in the following passage from a little book called, Pub Theology: Beer, Conversation, and God by Bryan Berghoef: “The Bible—or we might say, each book within the Bible—was written by a particular community of faith, for a particular community of faith. It was written in history, by human beings, each and every one of whom had their own agenda, bias, and perspective. Does that mean it is not from God? Not at all. But it does mean that its message is not always going to be clear, unified, and simple. There are texts that don’t just appear contradictory—they are contradictory! For those with a simplistic view of the Bible, this is a problem (that some go to great lengths to explain away). But for those who see the Bible as voicing the experiences of people who have encountered God throughout history in a diversity of ways and over hundreds and thousands of years, it should be expected. “The reality is, I love the Bible—it’s my favorite book in the whole world—and I think it has impacted our world more than any other book, and I think it continues to speak powerfully today. And if it is such an important book, an avenue through which we access the divine, then we ought to take it that seriously. Taking it seriously does not mean we just simply say, ‘There it is—God’s Word! If it says, ‘Jump!’ we’ll jump.” That might appear on the surface to be taking it seriously, but it is also a bit naïve (taking it literally is not the only way to take it seriously). “It is actually more respectful to the Bible to care it about it so much that you are willing to take it on its own terms, as an ancient text, as something that was written in a particular historical setting, in a particular language and in a specific context.” Pub Theology is available from Barnes and Noble and other...

World Beat

There is a rhythm to the universe. Sometimes we humans connect to it. Sometimes we don’t. Here is a great example of everything in...

Contemplative Doodling...

What tools do you use to focus your mind and overcome adversities? Do you walk, pray, listen to music? Below is a guest article by my friend Shini Abraham. Shini has medical conditions that cause her to be in pain all the time. She has discovered that doodling is therapeutic and deeply spiritual; others are finding it helpful for their own...

You Are Contagious

Most of the world has an identity that is tied to their group. Africans, Asians, Latinos and Middle Easterners have a sense of connection; they know they need each other, so effort is put to the common good. However, those of European descent tend to have a very individualistic view of life. Self-identity tends to be self-contained; we like our independence. Science is beginning to back up the non-Western view of life, that we are all connected in ways that we are only beginning to understand. I recently watched the documentary, I AM, that journals Tom Shadyac’s search for meaning. He is a successful filmmaker whose credits include Bruce Almighty, The Nutty Professor and Ace Ventura. After a head trauma that limited his his life, Shadyac set out to find true significance. In searching for what’s wrong with the world, he actually discovered much of what’s right. His film contains interviews with remarkable men and women who work in science, philosophy and faith (including Bishop Desmond Tutu). One unlikely finding is the extent to which we’re all connected. Really. You may think you’re an island, but you’re not. You are connected to other people, atoms, plants, people, and even yogurt. Yes, he showed one experiment that registered the effects of his thoughts and emotions on YOGURT! The thumbprint of a common designer is on everything in our world. And it seems to be our heart that drives us, not our brains. Did you know you have heart intelligence? Shadyac learned that cooperation, not competition, is in our DNA. And the world operates better when cooperation is in full-blown action. The film’s website says, “I AM shows consensus decision-making is the norm amongst many species, from insects and birds to deer and primates.  The film...