Toothpaste

I like to think I’m a fairly responsible person. I’m a firstborn, and we are the responsible folks of the world. (OK, so much for the stereotype.) When I see something that needs to be done, I do it. Or I procrastinate! Do you identify? I recently did a deep clean of my bathroom and found not one, but FOUR tubes of toothpaste with a little product left in each one. I think I’ve maybe had two before, but FOUR! When I’m getting ready to go somewhere or to bed at night, I just want to brush my teeth. I don’t want to mess with little bits of toothpaste (that I perceive to take too much of my energy.) There is little counter space in my bathroom, so getting that last little bit out adds a few annoying seconds to my busy lifestyle. This all sounds rather terrible; surely there are bigger fish in life to fry! And certainly, there are MUCH bigger problems in the world to solve! But we all have little things in our lives that bug us until we take care of them. Maybe it’s the flowers that need to be deadheaded so they can bloom again, or that phone call you’ve been meaning to make, or that closet that desperately needs cleaning out. Research shows that simply writing something down—getting it out of your head—can reduce mental and emotional fatigue. Not only do TO-DO lists help you prioritize and plan, but they also help reduce what you are burdened to carry around in your head. Many self-development gurus, like Seth Godin and Rob Bell talk about the importance of saying “yes” to the things we really want and then committing to STEP 1. Saying yes means you commit to...

Independence

As The United States celebrates its Independence Day, I thought it fitting to consider various forms of dependency. Dependence is defined as the state of needing something or someone else. Like it or not, we are dependent on each other for all kinds of things. We need acceptance, love and affection from others because we are social beings. A newborn child left alone without touch will die. We are dependent on each other to follow socially accepted behavior like stopping at red lights and contributing to common things like roads and schools. In relationships, we are dependent on each other to be there to share the workload, make a meaningful contribution and live up to our commitments. Healthy dependence is a really, really positive thing. Independence is freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. When the 13 American colonies were no longer satisfied with British rule (and taxation without representation), they sought a divorce. It’s not unlike the recent decision by Britain to pull out of the European Union to preserve its sovereignty. It’s not unlike states in human development. Two that come to mind are the terrible twos. I think the twos are called terrible because children seek independence from their parents and other caretakers because they are coming into their own. They are clumsy and awkward, but they are determined to get around! Unfortunately, they don’t yet recognize the limits of social and character boundaries, so tend to severely test those around them. The other significant stage of finding independence IS, of course, during the teenage years. Children are transitioning to adulthood with changing bodies, increased responsibilities and fewer apron strings. Yet their raging hormones and lack of fully developed prefrontal cortexes (decision-making that fully grasps consequences)...

Church

How do you know you’re on a good personal track? What are the markers of your spiritual growth? What do you think it means to be a person of faith? How do you nurture growth in your life? I had breakfast with a friend the other day that expressed concern because I don’t attend church services on a regular basis. Certainly she is not the only one to have voiced such fear. This friend followed up her statement with, “There’s a lot of stuff out there; what if you get off?” I then launched into a 5-minute defense of my spiritual life. We have social litmus tests for all sorts of things. And the common one for your faith is whether or not you go to church. (Interesting how church has become something you go to instead of who you are.) I’m cool with my friend, but our conversation topic makes me crazy! I think people and ideas and consciousness evolve. (I’m so glad we don’t believe in human slavery and are past the Crusades.) So a question is worth asking: To what extent can our understanding of God and faith evolve? I think that just as the universe continues to expand, so can our understanding of ultimate reality. Do you still believe that participating in certain rituals is a good test of your relationship with God, what you believe, and how you live your life? Jesus said people will know you are his disciples if you love one another.* But today, being right has become more important than being loving. And many people outside the church (however you define that growing group of folks), is, unfortunately, dare I say, sometimes nicer and kinder than those inside. Ouch! I’m not here to rag on church...

032: Spiritual Influences Jul29

032: Spiritual Influences...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/32-Spiritual_Influences_.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 45:18 — 41.5MB)Dr. Deb and Jeannette Slater discuss their faith journeys and the many spiritual leaders who have influenced them. Life and faith are meant to be a journey that is always expanding and growing. If your faith has not changed, or if you have not felt free to ask deeply felt questions, take courage. There are places you can go and voices you can hear that will help you escape the smallness of faith. Get unstuck and inspired in this most personal, yet universal conversation. Here are the spiritual leaders we mentioned that have most deeply influenced us: Richard Rohr – Here you can read about Father Rohr, the Center for Action and Contemplation, and sign up for daily email devotionals. https://cac.org Rob Bell http://robbell.com The Robcast is Bell’s fantastic podcast; it’s available on iTunes. Shane Hipps http://shanehipps.com Ask Science Mike http://mikemchargue.com/ask-science-mike/ The Liturgists http://www.theliturgists.com Mirabi Starr http://mirabaistarr.com Winkie Pratney http://www.winkiepratney.net Gregory Boyd Blog: http://reknew.org Podcasts: http://whchurch.org/sermons-media/sermons Shane Claiborne http://www.redletterchristians.org/shane/ Ilia Delio http://www.ilia-delio.squarespace.com Phyllis Tickle http://www.phyllistickle.com Book: The Great Emergence http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/great-emergence-the-phyllis-tickle/1111409784?ean=9780801013133 Youth With A Mission (YWAM)...

Where is God?

Where do you find The Divine? This is an age-old question, yet one that has to be answered by every person in every generation. And nobody can answer it for you. Where do YOU find God? It may not be the answer you think you’re supposed to have, or where other people do. God is everywhere and in all. That means the Divine is in you, in your house, in beautiful sunsets and in the trees. (God is in the trees; that doesn’t mean the trees are God.) If the Divine is everywhere, then God is closer than your breath. Think about that; closer than your breath. I love the traditional greeting of the Maori natives of New Zealand. Two people touch foreheads and noses; they literally take a moment to share breath. This may seem intimidating or gross to you, but I promise, it is an amazing experience. Now translate that to the Divine. Imagine sharing breath with the Divine…anyplace, any situation, all the time. Do you think God is far away, either because you feel guilty, you’re depressed or you don’t go to church? Theologian Rob Bell has points out that the very name of God is related to our breath. When we inhale, it’s like where’s saying, “Yah.” Likewise, when we exhale, we make the sound of, “Weh.” “Yaweh, yaweh.” The average adult breathes 12 to 20 times a minute. That means you are saying the name of God 12 to 20 times a minute. Yet how oblivious we are. Where do you find the Divine? Where is God to you? Have you limited God to the confines of the church building? Is the Divine only real to you when you’re praying or reading the Bible, while listening to some music...

Start

It’s the new year, so you have likely been thinking about (and hearing about) resetting aspects of your life. There is a sense in January that one can start over. Newsflash: It’s still January! But starting can be the hardest part. Starting is step 1. But often we get bogged down by steps 4 and 5 and so on. What if I don’t follow through? How much will it cost? What will happen if…? Change is intimidating for many of us because it involves uncertainty. But it’s a vicious cycle; and sometimes our deepest desires get bogged down. We experience paralysis by analysis! What is the one thing that is really on your mind these days? Spending more time with people you love? Stopping something? Getting a new job? Enjoying every moment a little more? Cleaning out that closet? Starting that retirement fund? Being present wherever you are? Just being content? Today you can do step 1. Just start. You’ve done it many times. You learned to walk by taking that first step! You learned to count by starting with 1. You learned the alphabet by starting with the 1st letter. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Be courageous. Be curious. Be confident. Go ahead; take the first bite. Just start. As Rob Bell said in an interview for oprah.com, “When you say yes to step 1, you cross over from one realm to another.”*   *http://www.oprah.com/connectembraceown/Life-Stories-That-Inspire-with-Rob-Bell Royalty-free image by Colin Brough in the United Kingdom. Retrieved from...

Yes and No

This time of year, everyone is saying what you need to do more of. The message is that you need to say YES to vegetables. YES to going to the gym. YES to saving more money. YES to buying whatever they’re offering. Right. And you’re thinking how can I possibly do any more? How can I possibly spend anymore? Everybody seems to want a piece of you; it’s like squeezing blood out of a turnip! Yoy many be thinking, “I’m completely maxed out. If only there was more money and more hours in a day!” The challenge with saying YES to more stuff, is we have to said NO to other stuff. Last year’s priorities may not be this year’s priorities. But if you keep saying YES without saying NO, you will just keep piling on, adding to your stress instead of reducing it. I recently shared a quote by theist thinker, Rob Bell, that you have to say YES before you can say NO.* It means that when you know what to say YES (to something you’re passionate about), you then have permission to say NO to what you’re not! I agree. I also agree that you have to say NO before you can say YES. Check out what another thinker/author, Seth Godin, says on the subject (with CAPS added for emphasis. He brings out what many of us struggle with—RESPONSIBILITIES and EXPECTATIONS by others and ourselves. “If you believe that you must keep your promises, overdeliver and treat every commitment as though it’s an opportunity for a transformation, the only way you can do this is to turn down most opportunities. “NO I can’t meet with you, NO I can’t sell it to you at this price, NO I can’t do this job justice,...

Where’s Your Treasure?...

“The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” This is an awesome principle from a little verse in the book of Matthew in the Bible.* And how true it is. We can talk all day about resolutions and goals. But in the end, we put our time and resources into the things we care most about. And in some sort of cyclical pattern those investments of time and resources set our priorities, define who we are, and reveal our desired destination. Which comes first? Yes. Time, resources, priorities, identity, destination; each affects the other. What you invest in reveals much about what is really important to you. And that is key—knowing what is important to you—because you can’t do everything! As Rob Bell said in his first Robcast,** “You have to say yes before you can say no.” It means you know what to say yes to. Then that gives you permission not only to say YES to what you’re passionate about, but NO to what you’re not! How cool is that? But oh how we struggle to say no! The priorities you set are both reflective of and determining of who you are. And who you are decides what you give yourself to (and not to). And your destination is both a reflection of your desires and a result of who you are and what you give yourself to. It may sound complex, but it’s actualy quite simple (and freeing)! Consider this circle as you contemplate how you will live your life this year.   * Matthew 6:21 The Message translation ** The Robcast (Rob Bell podcast), Episode 1, January 11, 2015. Check out here:...

Top 10-#7 God Is Not A Monster...

God has been misrepresented to many of us. As children we may have received a picture of God that is vengeful, boring, uncompromising, angry, arbitrary and narcissistic. As adults we were told clichés like, “God is trying to teach you something,” “When God closes a door, He opens a window,” and “You can trust God because he knows what’s going to happen anyway.” The problem is, these simplistic explanations for why stuff happens paint a picture that is limited at best and inaccurate at worst. God is often likened to either Frankenstein or Santa Clause. Frankenstein is out to get you. Santa Clause gives you everything you want. God is neither. What is your concept of God? Is it due for a makeover? Have you lost hope that God is knowable, touchable, relatable, and a best friend? Do you think he sits above with a really big stick ready to whack you every time you screw up? I often hear that people like Christ; they just don’t like Christians. I get it that the old testament of the bible is violent; it hits me every time I read it (as I have again the past few months). But as a communication scholar, I know there are pieces of the puzzle and context that have been lost on us thousands of years later. There is some great stuff there, but we don’t have the full picture. Despite my limitations to understand, I also see an image of God that is kind, patient, longsuffering, humble, persuadable, and more like a lover than a monster. Those passages are also there. Jesus is often looked up to as a model person. Even religions and philosophies that don’t consider him divine like him and think his teachings are beneficial...