Spiritual Adjustment

Self-reflection penitence are long-standing traditions in many faiths and cultures. There seems to be a common understanding that human beings are flawed and need periodic adjustments to live good and faithful lives. This week marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. Lent includes the 47 days leading up to Easter, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It is actually 40 days plus seven Sundays. (Remember that 40 is the number of days Jesus fasted and spent time in the dessert seeking God.) Other faiths have similar traditions. Muslims celebrate Ramadan, a month of fasting, charitable giving and prayer in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. It is also during this time that many make their pilgrimage to Mecca to participate in the Hajj, a trip every Muslim must make at least once during their lifetime. During the Hajj, Muslims engage in purification and unity. The Arabic word Tawbah literally means, “turning around.” In addition to celebrating Passover, Jews participate in the Days of Awe, ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This is a time for serious reflection, a chance to consider the previous year, and to repent. The Scriptures (what Christians call the Old Testament) concept of repentance means to literally a 180-degree turn towards God. According to the website, Judaism 101, “Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.”* During Lent, many people (especially Catholics) give up something they enjoy, like sugar, alcohol or movies. These are types of fasts. Lent is not a time to prove to God that you love Him (or manipulate Him to love you–because She/He already does), rather it’s a time to reflect, search your soul, and make amends. If fasting is something that is meaningful to you, then do it. But more important is to reflect, pray, and perhaps engage in rituals (such as Lenten services). It might be a good time to go on a spiritual retreat. Take time. Find a resource that will be helpful for reflection and meditation. It’s good to take time to reconnect with your spiritual center, reflect on the past and renew your soul.   * http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday3.htm Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostration...

Jesus By GPS

The Christmas story includes the tale of wise men who took cues from the stars and went seeking for the Christchild. Here is a short animation made by some friends of mine that tells the Christmas story with a cute and modern twist.

Stop The World

When life gets really crazy I’ve been known to say “Stop the world, I want to get off!” But it seems the spin just keeps going. How can we take the time to slow things down and get ourselves “centered” so that we can respond with grace and wisdom rather than reacting to each circumstance? I’ve been practicing a simple discipline called centering prayer or mindfulness meditation. This is an ancient practice used by the mystics and others perhaps growing out of an ancient challenge to, “Be still and know that I am God.” The goal is to ‘still’ our over active mind and emotions, to step off the spinning merry-go-round for a few minutes a day and simply BE.  Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it? There are many techniques used to help stop the spin. The most common is to sit quietly and comfortably and draw all you attention to your breath, breathing in and out in a slow measured pace. I add a simple ‘breath prayer’ or mantra that fits well with one cycle of breathing. Some advocate using something that does not carry deep meaning because our mind will start thinking about the meaning instead of being still, so “ooommm” is often used.  I have chosen “Grace” for my intake breath and “Peace” for my breath out. On a recent episode of his television show, Dr Phil told a guest that if you are feeling anxious, simply taking a few minutes to measure your breaths equally in and out, will calm anxiety. From there (as a beginner to this process) I imagine myself sitting in my happy place, a place of peace and quiet. I try to be fully present in my body. Inevitably my mind wonders to the cares of the day...

Top 10-#10 Truth Is Truth No Matter Where You Find It...

Pilate asked, “What is truth?” Augustine said, “Truth is truth, no matter where you find it.” Well I thought he said it, but now I can’t find it. Nobody has a corner on the truth. We think we do, which is why we are so often willing to die for it. The problem with thinking we alone have the truth is that it can’t possibly be true. We all have limited perspective and experience. We can’t possibly know everything. This is humility. As a Christ-follower, I believe truth is found in nature, in the bible and in my conscience. I also think it’s found in paintings, great music, and pithy statements by people of insight. It’s found in pain, experience and wisdom. God likely speaks to you in many ways. Or maybe you don’t think there is a God or gods or anything bigger than you. Maybe you don’t even believe in truth. But I think you resonate with things that ring true, like justice, well-fed kids, spring flowers, stunning sunsets and freshly fallen snow. English author Algernon Blackwood (who died in 1951) wrote, “Let each philosophy, each world-view bring forth its truth and beauty to a larger perspective, that people may grow in vision, stature and dedication.” A guy named John once quoted Jesus as saying, “Know the truth and it will set you free. “ – (John 8:32) Look for it and you will find it. Truth is truth, no matter where you find it....

Gratitude

Watch this beautiful short by video artist, Louie Schwartzberg. He motivates us by getting up close with nature. The video celebrates life, love, beauty, art, nature, and especially people. It draws me to the one who made it all. Nature is incredible. People (made in God’s image) are even more spectacular. We and nature were made for our enjoyment and the honor of the highest Being. “You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day, it’s the one day that is given to you, today. Its given to you; it’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now. And the only appropriate response, is gratefulness.” Spoken word and music montage created and composed by Gary Malkin. Narration written and spoken by Brother David Steindl-Rast....

The Lost Art of Self-Reflection

For most of history, people got up with the sun and went to bed with it. Their worlds were very small, about as far as they could walk or ride a horse in a day. They heard the birds chirp. They were familiar with the stars. They were comfortable with silence and had time to think. That was then. This is now. In our busy world, we are always surrounded by sounds, demands, pressures and obligations. Silence and solitude are difficult to find. Being comfortable with our own thoughts is seemingly impossible. Everybody wants a piece of us. Before television, cars, electricity, billboards and city life (not to mention email, Facebook and all the overstimulation of the digital life), it must have been easier to engage in self-reflection. At least there weren’t so many distractions. I recently wrote about our need for holidays; we need the special ones as well as the  weekly ones some people call Sabbath. Those times give us pause to reflect on our lives. As a lay life coach, I pose four questions to new clients to help them reflect on where they’d like to grow. I encourage you to answer these questions for yourself. Also click the Rate Your Life link and score yourself on six life dimensions. As you reflect, you may learn some things about yourself and embark on a journey of growth, personal development and positive change. Questions: What are 1 or 2 things I think should be on the agenda for my life right now? If I could change one thing in my life right now, what would it be? What are the obstacles that are holding me back from reaching my potential in this season of my life? When I think ahead to 3 years from now, how do I want my life to be different?  ...

Finding God In Brokeness...

You can’t be satisfied. Life is difficult. You don’t know the secret. The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction is available here. Have you read the book? Post your thoughts below after reading...

Falling Plates

Interesting and though-provoking short film about life, death and redemption. We live in a world of broken plates. Watch it for the creativity and...

Jesus>Religion

I think there are millions of people who love God but hate religion. They find themselves embarrassed and loathing the task of defending the behavior of many people who call themselves Christians. If you haven’t seen Jefferson Bethke’s video, “Why I hate religion but love Jesus,” you have to see it. It hit 20 million hits in the first ten days it was on YouTube. It obviously resonates with a lot of...

Does God Think I’m an Idiot?

“God takes great pleasure in us living as we were meant to live; He even commands it in the Psalms: ‘Take delight in the Lord.’…Very few set out to live such a focused, beautiful life. Narrow is the way and only a few find it.” – Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith.

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