Posts tagged ‘Christianity’

You CAN be Perfect!

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To affirm, simply put, is to add firmness to. To affirm yourself, therefore, is to add firmness to you and to your self, to strengthen both your definition of yourself and your very being. Start by affirming what is known truth – you are human. What does it mean to be human? A human is not all powerful. A human is not all knowing. A human is imperfect. A human feels. Emotions convey a message. Fear tells us we do not know something. Fear is  useful. Fear is normal. Fear is to be expected. We have no reason to fear fear. Likewise, we have no reason to act is if we are fearless or to avoid anything that might evoke fear. Doing so reflects a form of perfectionism. Do not be afraid to fail or to succeed. You can be perfect – perfectly human, perfectly you.
We are meant to strive toward perfection, but neither to reach it nor to expect to reach it. To have a different mindset is to challenge God, to believe we can be equal. To judge ourselves unworthy of God’s love and mercy reflects an expectation that we can be perfect. Thus we manifest our true sin, pride. In refusing God’s love and likewise refusing to love ourselves, God’s creation, we withdraw our trust in God alone. We again forget we are of God. We no longer clearly and consistently recognize God. We begin to fail to see the God in others, but rather see only the façade which their separation from God requires them to create. We, in turn, seek affection from them instead of the God within they are meant to manifest. Hence, God is no longer our first and only love. We lose our way. We separate ourselves even further from the source of our very being, the only Perfect, in whom when we are ultimately united we are perfected in love.
So quit trying to be perfect. When anxieties arise, recognize the feeling as a reminder that you are human, just as you are meant to be. Rejoice that you do not know everything because it is not your responsibility or your burden. Affirm that you not only have a right to be afraid, but that it is normal to fear. Yes, I say rejoice that you have been wonderfully made, that you are extraordinarily ordinary. Rejoice that you know God and that God’s strength is yours for the asking. Just for today, choose to be, strive to be perfectly human. Tell yourself, ” I am perfectly human, naturally flawed, extraordinarily ordinary, wonderfully unique. I am meant to feel and to fail, to find favor and forgiveness in the fullness of God, forever and the only the Perfector of Souls.”  AFFIRMATION: Just for today, I accept and rejoice that I am a human being, created and loveable just as I am.

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I Hope Because I Must

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God works in mysterious ways we cannot hope to understand, but it behooves us to remember that with God, nothing is impossible. Miracles are not just a thing of Biblical history. Neither are they simply beating tough odds. But such faith is borne out in our choice to hope. And when we choose to Have an Optimistic Plan for Everything (and for all Eternity), we naturally put forth the effort to cooperate as fully with God’s will as much as we are able. I recently visited my father who lives a state away from me. He told me he and his wife and my step-sister still pray God will heal me through the grace outpoured by Jesus the Christ. I always remind him that while it may not make sense to him or sometimes even me, I believe I bear the cross of my health problems for a reason and that God’s will may not be for me to be healed. My father nods his head , but I believe remains unconvinced. My father was a victim in an automobile accident. He wasn’t driving. He was hit by a truck while walking across a street. He’d just left work and as he took his last step onto the curb to reach the parking lot across the street, an overeager driver lurched forward into my Dad as the light turned green. Some of his injuries were termed the worst ever seen by the doctors where he was air-lifted. His pelvis was broke in half and folded into a 90 degree angle. He was told there was no chance he would walk again. However, that didn’t deter his determination. When the physical therapist would leave his room, he’d work a little harder, a little longer. He walks, albeit with a cane and pain, but he walks. He was shrunk 2-3” and he stoops over, but my dad, once 6’9” still towers over me physically and in my mind. My father chose to have hope. I admit that for many years I took his healing for granted, only marveling a bit at the story but not truly absorbing the magnificence of God’s glory at work.

painting by mollyjayne40, blog administrator, based on an image suggested by Zemanta on WordPress


I can relate many more examples of modern miracles, all personally known to me –some just as dramatic, some less, some more. For example, my cousin was diagnosed with sleep apnea and told how he’d have to wear a mask hooked up to a breathing machine the rest of his life. My cousin lost a significant amount of weight, got into better physical condition, learned better breathing techniques, and made adjustments to his environment. He no longer requires a machine and is on several less medications. My cousin said he never would have made the improvements he did if he hadn’t 1) accepted and used the machine which finally allowed him the physically and mentally restorative sleep  and the regulated schedule he needed to have the energy and organization to work towards goals and 2) chosen to have hope and to work steadily toward progress in his health in general with a chance at a pay-off some termed impossible. Another example and one which typifies the modern world’s response is that which occurred for a pastor at a church I formerly attended before moving. In brief, he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was being treated by a team of doctors at one of the most highly rated specialty cancer treatment centers in the world. Unfortunately, the cancer did not seem to be abating in response to any of the treatment. With plans for a visit cross-country, the pastor’s colleague and friend suggested he visit one of the other top cancer treatment centers which happened to be close to his destination. During his flight, while praying a preemptive thanksgiving for the “healing only the Good Lord can provide”, he noticed he was suddenly able to breathe better. Two days later, test results in hand and feeling confident that he had been healed, he arrived and began a new battery of tests. When the doctors at last descended upon him, they announced that he had no trace of cancer and had “obviously [been] misdiagnosed”. However they had no explanation for what may have caused all of the false positive readings on his test results as they had found no trace of any illness or injury in the chest, noting that his lungs and heart were easily that of someone 20 years his junior. I could continue with such stories, but I have one special one to tell.
full-body Positron Emissions Tomography
The following is the story that inspired this post. It is one that gave me chills when I first heard it and one that still does every time I retell it. In my younger years I spent several months discerning with a Catholic community of Benedictine Sisters. Ultimately, I did not become a part of the community but they’ve long held a special place in my heart. During my discernment period I worked with two vocation directors. On a visit last autumn I learned one of them had been diagnosed and was struggling with little response to intervention for an aggressive form of cancer with a low survival rate. I was saddened to see here subsisting on a liquid diet, as she could not keep down any solid food. Then, on another visit in February, I learned that this sweet woman of the “invisible habit” (that air of peace and example of righteous conduct that is far more visible and indicative of perpetual vows than any piece of cloth) had come to an agreement with her doctors to end treatment. For as many cancer patients will tell you, it is only the possibility of a cure that helps them to endure the suffering most cancer treatment produces. No cure could reasonably be expected for Sister F. And as my dear friend and the other once-vocation director said, “The doctors and she have done all they can. At this point all we can do is pray God blesses her with a miraculous healing if it is God’s will. We know it is possible and I know you will pray with us.” I did of course. All we could do was choose to have hope. This past month, on another visit, I noticed Sister F’s cheeks seemed more ruddy and her step seemed lighter. I asked Sister C, “So how is Sister F doing?” SIster C’s face brightened as she related the latest update. At a recent doctor’s visit, a PET scan plus four additional tests revealed not only that the cancer had not spread but that no trace of it remained. They had all been accused of colluding with God to put the doctors out of business. I cannot help but be encouraged and inspired, not only by the outcome of this story, but by the gracefulness with which this nun accepted God’s will, whatever it might be, moving as easily with serenity towards death as towards her life now continued. So, as Arthur Woolson says in recounting his personal story as the father of child diagnosed with Schizophrenia, “I hope because I must. For without faith, the dull sounds of existence would be too hollow to bear” (Goodbye, My Son – Copyright 1962)

Religion and Christianity

Jesus on the Cross

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Religion and Christianity are neither synonymous nor mutually exclusive. If religion is the outward manifestation of a person’s belief system, then any number of behaviors – those both of morality and ritual – that are identified with the followers of Christ would be identified as part of the religion of Christianity. What one must question is whether such behaviors are in fact founded in the teachings of the early Church and It’s “founder” Jesus the Christ. We also must bear in mind that the Scripture of Christ’s day was in fact the Old Testament writings and that the collective wisdom of shared rituals across the communities of the Early Church point to the importance of honoring Tradition and the entire Bible. With proper respect for these factor, it becomes quite obvious that being a Christian requires that we rely exclusively neither upon just the New Testament nor a single pastor’s interpretation of Holy Scripture. Also, no Christian faith disputes that salvation is ours to accept through the mercy and grace of Jesus the Christ. What people get confused about is the concept of justification. Some think that having salvation, they are guaranteed to be united face-to-face with their Creator. This is not so and the Bible makes it quite clear. Accepting salvation brings us through a door into the Light, but we must still walk in The Way to reach communion with God. While it may make no sense that anyone who believes in the Passion would not walk that path, some do not or, rather, do not stay on the path because they are not diligent. Most often diligence is lacking first and foremost in a desire to keep learning. Growing spiritually requires it.

When Friends Disappoint: The Case of Few Partners in Prayer

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It seems that often times, Spirit speaks to me as I’m speaking to others. I’ve decided that such responses are applicable answers to the issues of many more than the one person to whom I’m writing, so I’ve decided to change some key details, so as to share them with you all. This is probably the first in a non-sequential series.

Recently, after a long absence from a social site, I returned to discover a post from a friend that she was disappointed that only a very few of her hundreds of Socialsite Pals had joined her only intermittently to pray for the victims of the disasters in Japan. She declared that she didn’t want to be Pals with such unloving people.

This was my response…

Dearest Kyoko, I can see from your story about not being joined in prayer, that you were very hurt emotionally.  I don’t ever think a person is wrong to express feelings. I noticed though that you used the phrase “call people on the rug”, asserting that it was the right thing to do. To me, this implies judgement. Perhaps you don’t mean it that way. In any case, it is not always wrong to express judgement, but we must do so very cautiously. So, I just want to share a few thoughts, not to correct you, but only to spur your reflection on the matter. I’m well aware I don’t know the details of the situation for any involved. Please don’t feel obligated to explain or feel that you must defend yourself. I’m just going to throw out some scenarios. What doesn’t apply, you can ignore.

You said you were praying hourly. I wonder how many of your Socialsite Pals even knew. The way Socialsite picks “top stories” for my Frontpage, sometimes I forget to click over to “most recent” and miss important stories. Other times, when I’ve been long absent or a lot of people have published, I might miss someone’s story that is hardly an hour old because I get tired of scrolling back. (Granted, this doesn’t happen as much on my current Socialsite account because I’ve limited my Pals but it’s a frequent occurrence on the site I use most!) And perhaps others, like myself, were not even on Socialsite. Now of the ones left, some may have been praying and not publishing. Some may be of the type who have hearts of prayer, offering up prayer for the intentions of those in need or in concert with the intentions of those they care about without remembering all of the details to pray specific words, but nonetheless God hears their prayers just as loudly. Some may have offered fewer prayers but with a deep sincerity that few can manage. Some may have desired to be in hourly prayer with you but could not, perhaps because of exhaustion or obligations to family. We all have different callings. Further, intercession is a spiritual gift. It is not everyone’s gift, and it is no better or worse a gift than any other.

What I’m really trying to say, Kyoko, is that it benefits us and others to believe the best of others unless we have hard evidence to the contrary. Where evidence exists, confrontation is best made directly and privately, allowing the person to make amends rather than potentially shaming them such that they turn further from God. Even when evidence is present, it behooves us to be forgiving, realizing that persons sometimes fall short not because they are uncommitted or uncaring, but because they are ignorant of their own limits or struggle with pride in admitting those limits. Forgiveness is not something to be asked for but something to be silently offered – giving the problem back to the person it belongs to for our own piece of mind. At a point much earlier in my spiritual journey, your admonishment of your Socialsite Pals for not joining you in prayer would have felt like a hard and undeserved slap in the face. I likely would have felt betrayed by someone I trusted to accept me. At the same time, I may have felt wrongfully ashamed for not measuring up to your expectations, the expectations of someone I admired. I don’t know how many, if any, of your Socialsite Pals are young in their spiritual journey (which has nothing to do with how long ago they accepted Jesus the Christ as their Savior), but in my Christian youth, feeling rejected, I would have probably quietly disconnected from someone who could help me grow and then drifted farther away from the embracing love of my Lord.

As I said, I don’t know the specific circumstances regarding your request to your Pals. I also know nothing of their replies, their reasons for not joining you. I merely wanted to offer you a perspective you may not have had the opportunity to discover. God bless you. You are a beautiful woman, inside and out. I hope we continue to have the opportunity to grow together by Spirit’s guidance.

How to Love Stupid People

warning about stupidity

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I first must make clear that ignorance is a lack of knowledge, skills, or understanding. While stupidity is often interchanged with the word ignorant, its theoretical meaning differs vastly. The outcome of both may produce the same actions, but stupidity is in fact a character defect rather than a condition. Both may prevail unceasingly until death, but the latter is far more difficult to eradicate. Stupidity in the sense that I mean it here is better equated with a lack of willingness, a mental attitude that dismisses evidence and experience and reason, the source or sister to insanity – that being the repetition of destructive or self-destructive acts with the expectation that the consequences of one’s actions will magically lose their destructive force and may in fact result in the opposite. Ignorance is relatively easy to remedy – feed the mind and the rest will follow. Stupidity however requires patience, fervent effort, and diligence. To step beyond stupidity requires a deep humility, so deep as to see ourselves exactly for who we are with no judgment at all – positive or negative. Many are not capable of such honesty. Second, before I continue, I want you the reader to know that neither ignorance nor stupidity can be generalized to every part of a person’s being. So, like my co-contributors (as you’ll see this theme elsewhere), I could never truthfully or with good conscience call a person stupid or ignorant, except rarely perhaps if I qualified in what manner or area. For we are all stupid and ignorant in some manner to some degree at different points in our life.
Now, why is such clarification necessary? It is needed because it is a groundwork upon which we may develop empathy, grow in our ability to forgive, find serenity and live with joy. Never have I come to a point of perfection in these goals, but also never have I gotten a start without first building on my understanding of my own and others’ ignorance and stupidity in any situation. Furthermore, failing to do so has sadly led me to act “unrighteously” with a self-righteous attitude more than once. Recently our prayer group discussed how to handle being accused of something unfairly by someone in fact guilt of what they accused you. Sometimes we hold certain persons to higher expectations because of their intelligence or their charisma. We think they ought to know better. We must remember that we’ve all been privy to experiences uniquely our own and each experience affects how we assimilate learning from the next. Therefore, even two children brought up in the same household with the same parents in what seems much the same way experience life differently and therefore do not share exactly the same knowledge, skills, and understanding. So back to the issue our group discussed, I do not wish to focus on the details but just to offer some general thoughts. Without a doubt, knowing little of most people’s lives, it behooves me for my own peace of mind to assume that a person acts unkindly out of ignorance rather than stupidity. Afterall, I have a much better chance of positively influencing them and less reason to take their actions personally.
So, it is important to bear in mind that the strength with which one conveys her/his convictions or the hurtful manner in which s/he delivers them does not negate the presence of ignorance. In fact, it proves it all the more. For a person who is not ignorant of how to be assertive has not reason to be anything but assertive, for in communication nothing is gained and more is lost by aggression, passive-aggression and passivity than by assertion. And since it by communication that we relate, a most necessary aspect of our humanity and our spiritual growth, a person not ignorant of assertion would choose to be assertive. Only someone with no interest in spiritual growth or righteousness AND yet with knowledge of how to be assertive who chooses to act in an unassertive manner could be found entirely at fault in choosing to thus communicate. Of course such a person would likely not care enough to consistently be assertive, for they would likely not care about the rights of others and neither would they likely care what anyone thought of their choices. In such a case though, does not Jesus advise us two things? One, we are told to set right in their pathway those of our OWN Christian community and then only according to the administration of justice upheld by our community. Two, where the gospel is rebuked, we are to shake even the dust of where we have tread from our feet. On a final note I must say, if I persist in choosing to feel slighted by others’ ignorance, I am stupid. Now, certainly, much more could be said on this subject, but I think we have found an adequately place to let the issue rest. God be with you.

Words on the Words: Way, Truth, Life

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to Creator God except through me.” -The Holy Bible

The Way is the means to succeed.
Without the means, nothing is completed, attained, achieved.
The means are method, materials, and motivation.
The Way is the path, the journey, the direction, and the how.

The Truth, unchanging yet shaped by perspective, shall set you free.
To be free is to be without constraint or limit or price.
Truth, never easily perceived, reveals itself through faith.
Truth, never easily believed, reveals its worth through fidelity.

The Life is the example of righteousness and It’s reward.
Life is color, vibration, purpose, meaning, energy, reality.
Life is the source and summation of sustenance.
Breath, water, light, nourishment, and love sustain.

Christ told us the greatest commandment is love. Love is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. What is without love is without God.

From Peak to Plains: Keeping a Spiritual High Alive

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So, the retreat or conference is over.  Are you experiencing a let-down?  I know how you feel.  I’ve been there.  You feel reassured and renewed.  You are filled with new hope.  You are inspired.  You are enthusiastic.  You feel comforted and loved and warm and fuzzy.  You don’t feel so overwhelmed.  You feel more confident.  You trust.  You believe.  You are glowing just a bit, maybe even allot.  People notice – you seem different somehow.  Well, you did.  It’s fading.  That special time is over.  You’ve been plunked back down on the Time-Out Chair of your life.  You want to do the next right thing.  You want to make amends.  You want to make a difference.  You don’t want to forget.  You want live for God.  You feel pushed and pulled.  You feel…let down.  Yet, you don’t want to let God or yourself down.  You are crying out, “How, now?”  You are listening.  You are not so unique as you might think in how you are feeling right now.  I want to share with you how I’m taking it from the peak to the plains instead of the pits.  Please follow along and share your thoughts and questions.

Even though I experienced some painful moments while attending the Women of Faith Imagine conference in November 2010 at the Sprint Center of Kansas City, Missouri, I experienced a fabulous high.  Strip away all of the inspiring music, drama and speakers and you still have an arena of women who love God surrounding you.  Strip them away and allow me to be an audience to just the speakers or performers and I’m still filled with chills.  Strip everything away and leave me in my hotel room on a comfy bed with my Bible and I’m still richly blessed by a vacation from responsibilities, relationship challenges, and the realities of daily existence.  Screech!  Reentry jolts you back, replacing clarity with confusion and meeting resolve with resistance.  Any change represents loss.  If you start by minimizing the trauma, you reduce the energy you’ll need for grieving.

You can best preserve what you’ve gained from your spiritual experience by reflecting on a few key points.  Nothing good or bad lasts forever in this temporal ,material world of ours.  Emotions, the fabric of our humanity, are fleeting.  Remember that in Mark 9, the disciples wanted to camp out in the light and warmth on the peak, but Jesus led them down right into a crowd of people in need.  If you have felt a spiritual high, had a spiritual experience, you are changed.  However, how and when that change becomes apparent is dependent on many variables including how easily we can unseat the unhealthy patterns of acting that need coaxing out of their comfort zone in our brains.  Rarely is a resolution miraculously achieved, so bear with yourself patiently as you progress, sometimes three steps forward and two steps back.  Realize that our culture in general does not regularly encourage us in the practice of Christian principles or traditions, so seek support from like-minded persons or at least one soul-supporter.  Setting time aside for a spiritual practice that draws us into communion with God and “checking in” with someone who will encourage us will prove immensely valuable as we try to transition from holy hoopla to anointed action.

Now, here’s a practical suggestion to take it from the peak to the plains – bring to mind an “a-ha” moment from your experience and sum it up in one sentence.  Write it on several index cards, cut to size, and post them in places you encounter frequently – inside the cupboard door where you keep your cups and glasses, above the toilet paper roll, in your desk drawer next to the pens, etc.  Whenever you encounter one of the cards, pause to say it out loud or at least to yourself.  Try to recall it at any quiet moment and speak it into existence.  Forgetfulness is a favorite friend of the Devil.  Your subconscious does not know the difference between true and false, so it will absorb and accept whatever you feed it.  Logically, I want my mind to accept the reality that I propose to create.  God gave me choice to be a co-creator.  My “a-ha” to focus for now is this – “I’m being called to perfect myself, not to be perfect before answering God’s call.”  How about you?

Scripture Search Challenge (immerse yourself in the power of the Word by looking up and reading these Biblical references):  1 Cor 1:8-9, Jer 29:11, Rom 8:39

Most Gracious and Wondrous Lord, we praise you still as we pad down this slippery slope, trusting that we shall find peace-everlasting on the plains of our lives renewed.  Spare us from the pits of pride and pessimism and revive in us a passion to do your will increasingly with every passing moment.  All this with pray in the name of Jesus the Christ, Son of God and Son of Man.  God Almighty, let it be.