Archive for the ‘Awareness’ Category

We Betray Ourselves

February 16, 2023

A friend talked about his preacher from when he was a kid. The preacher managed to work the subject of the evils of sex into every sermon. Then one day the preacher left town with the wife of the chairman of the Board of Deacons.

A man was known to have abusive attitudes toward women. He touted a book his daughter suggested he read written by two women who discussed abusive relationships. He seemed unaware that the book was meant for his own understanding.

I once listened to a pastor every week on a podcast. One day I realized that he was really self-centered and unaware of several shortcomings. His deeper vices did remain hidden…until they were brought to light. And I realized he had been telling us without realizing himself many of his faults.

Makes me think of the Scot poet Robert Burns, (not in Scot dialect) “Oh what a gift he gives us, to see ourselves as others see us.”

Makes me wonder what I’m saying that I don’t realize. How about you? What are we blind to about ourselves. Maybe time to stop and consider.

Awareness Is Such a Beautiful Thing

February 13, 2023

I don’t know all of my weaknesses. But I know some important ones.

I can easily be addicted to computer games. I had a little handheld football game in the late 1970s. I was on that a lot. Gloria Mark in her recently released book Attention Span says that can be a good way to relieve cognitive stress. But, games have become so immersive that I’ve avoided them for many years. They can lead me beyond relieving stress into addiction.

My emotions are easily aroused. I’ve learned (mostly) not to reply to lies spreading around social media. But awareness tells me to severely limit my exposure. My mental health and stability have been greatly improved.

I am aware of the state of mind of people around me. I learned that at a very early age thanks to an emotionally unstable home life. That’s often a good thing. I can respond appropriately. On the other hand, sometimes I can misinterpret (see above about emotions).

Developing awareness has improved my life a bit at a time. I’m aware when I’m with God and when we’re apart. I’m aware when I’ve become too withdrawn and need to interact with others.

Awareness is a beautiful thing. It helps me live a better life and probably makes things better for those around me.

Tossed Between Belief and Unbelief

February 3, 2023

Does it ever happen to you? One day you feel great. Everything goes well. The next you feel depressed with seemingly nothing going right.

Think of Jesus’s friend Simon whom he nicknamed Peter (the rock).

One day Simon blurts out a sentence of amazing spiritual depth. “You are the Messiah.” Jesus calls him a rock.

Soon after, maybe the next day, that rock was more like a rolling stone. The newly crowned Peter blurts out that Jesus can’t possibly be right, that things won’t happen the way he says. Jesus calls him Satan telling him to get out of his way.

Not only Peter but the whole crowd of them seemed to oscillate between euphoria with Jesus doing great things reflecting back on them and depression with some of the hard and weird things Jesus said.

So, we’re not unique feeling that oscillation.

Gradually we learn calm, awareness, perspective. We realize that stuff happens. Like a pendulum given a push and left alone, the swings gradually reduce until we reach the still point. That point of understanding. That point where we can be like Jesus (a little), the calm port in the storm.

This only happens with deep spiritual understanding and experience. That’s why we practice the spiritual disciplines.

Beware The Yeast That Infuses The Mind

February 2, 2023

Jesus and the group that followed him packed up what they carried with them. They left to go to another place. They were always wandering from place to place. You’d think they would have the packing thing down to a habit.

They forgot to pack the bread. Did you ever start out on a trip with that funny feeling in the back of the mind? That feeling that suddenly bursts into “Oh my god, I forgot to pack the ….”?

Well, the guys were probably blaming each other as they realized they had left a pile of bread behind. “I thought you had it.” “I thought he had it.” “Didn’t you pick it up?”

Jesus said, “Forget the bread. Beware the yeast of the Pharisees.”

It took two times for the message to sink in that Jesus wasn’t reprimanding them for the bread. He used this simple real-life example as a teaching moment. 

Don’t let the wrong ideas or teaching infuse your brain and soul. Use awareness and  discernment to filter those out as you do your daily reading and listening. 

Let the words and actions of Jesus be the yeast that infuses your soul and grows into a beautiful bread.

Liars and Dopamine and Social Media

January 30, 2023

Day 30 of reading a chapter from the Proverbs a day. Reflecting upon how often liars are despised.

Perhaps you were kids on the playground. Perhaps it was later in young adulthood. Someone gets angry and wants to fight. All the people around encourage him. They are not going to fight. But the angry one grows ever more belligerent and ready to go into the fight.

Liars on social media are in search of “likes”. Each like is a hit of dopamine for the mind. Like the encouragers in the mob encouraging the one to fight, the “likers” obtain some joy watching someone else play the fool. The “liked” person feels vindicated and backed up ready to go further.

We may think this is a new phenomenon—all this lying on social media. But literature from 3,000 years ago containing sayings most likely passed down from many generations before show us that lying is not new. It is as old as humans in community.

Yet, we also have the examples of the wise, the truthful. They existed at the same time.

Community, society, exist in tension between the wise and the fool, the truth teller and the liar.

Our choice, my choice, your choice is to become aware and then choose—within which side of the tension shall we reside?

Who Is A Fool?

January 26, 2023

Today’s chapter in Proverbs hit the fools, the lazy, and the “whisperer.” So, I thought, who is a fool? Is there a picture of a fool? How would I know one, really?

Wow, did that ever send me down into a rabbit’s warren of Ecosia searches. That was 12 hours ago. A busy day and several zoom meetings later, here I am after dinner still thinking.

Perhaps I am the fool?

Speaking of fools, I thought about our politicians in the US. A big group of them keep trying to run every detail of our lives. Many of these were youth and adolescents of the 70s.

This 70s song by Jonathan Edwards (Sunshine Go Away Today) appeared on our Sonos speakers

Sunshine, go away today
I don’t feel much like dancing
Some man’s gone, he’s tried to run my life
He don’t know what he’s asking
When he tells me I better get in line
I can’t hear what he’s saying
When I grow up, I’m gonna make it mine
These ain’t dues I been paying

Well, how much does it cost?
I’ll buy it
The time is all we’ve lost
I’ll try it
And he can’t even run his own life
I’ll be damned if he’ll run mine, sunshine

The song is packed with teenage rebellion. On the other hand, I was impacted by the line–he can’t even run his own life I’ll be damed if he’ll run mine.

How often do we, yes we, you and me, try to tell other people how to live yet our own lives leave so much to be desired?

Once again a use for the discipline of pause, breathe, consider, be quiet.

When Love Meets

January 19, 2023

When love meets pain, it becomes compassion.

When love meets happiness, it becomes joy.

Joy is an expression of the awakened heart, a quality of enlightenment. When we live in the present, joy often arises for no reason.

Jack Kornfield

When I came across these thoughts, I was compelled by the spirit to pause and consider. I love that thought of “when love meets…” What a powerful picture.

And I thought about how joy is a fruit of God’s Spirit according to the Apostle Paul.

Then I remembered this little folk song from the time when I sold my electric guitar and bought a nylon-stringed acoustic one and sang folk songs. Many from Catholics in the mid-to-late 60s. Like this one written by Sister Miriam Therese Winter, Joy Is Like The Rain.

I saw raindrops on the river, Joy is like the rain.

Bit by bit the river grows, till all at once it overflows.

Joy is like the rain.

Perhaps today I can rest in joy. Care to join me?

Offering An Opinion Lacking Understanding

January 18, 2023

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing personal opinion.”

Proverbs 18

Sometimes I wonder if Solomon had the power to look 3,000 years into the future and view today’s society. We often hear “I’m entitled to my opinion” but never “I’m in need of understanding.”

But, no, obviously this condition of mindlessly spouting off unfounded opinion is as old as human civilization. Maybe older.

What do we admire about some people?

Is it not that they have deep understanding and yet they do not metaphorically bludgeon us with it.

Wise people share their insights derived from their understanding at a time and place where we can effectively apply it to our situation.

We admire them, perhaps even while also disliking them for the uncomfortable feeling of our own need to change. For, we hate to change–our minds, our lifestyle, our habits.

I think of people who met Jesus and understood the wisdom of his words and yet walked away sadly knowing that they had not the courage or energy to change.

And I wonder, where do we need to change beginning today? And what? And how?

The rest of Chapter 18 talks of problems we cause through our talking. Similar to cautions found in the letter of James in the New Testament. Perhaps that would be a useful change for us beginning today–how and what we communicate?

I’ve made progress and yet much work remains. How about you?

Light and Dark

January 4, 2023

I’ve wandered so aimless, life filled with sin
I wouldn’t let my dear Savior in
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night
Praise the Lord, I saw the light

From the David Crowder Band

The gospel writers each had an individual motif. Matthew’s sub theme dealt with fulfilling Jewish prophecy. Mark emphasized action. Look under the covers of Luke’s gospel and you see the working of the Spirit and the importance of women. But John, ah, John, he is the writer of the contrast of light and dark.

I thought of him as I read this pair of thoughts from the Proverbs this week

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,

which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”

“The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;

they do not know what they stumble over.”

Some of us stumble around until we see the light. For some of us it’s like the phrase “it suddenly dawned on me”, wisdom came gradually as the dawn until the brilliance of the sun of full day illuminated everything.

In my case, there were glimpses of light when I was yet a teen. But the light dawning with some bit of maturity didn’t hit until my late 20s. Psychologists would say, “Duh.” That is about when a male human’s brain finally develops. (Females a bit earlier so they say.)

I still have lapses of maturity in some social situations, but glimpses of the light became more frequent and even blinding as years and seeking rolled on.

Wisdom, personified as a woman standing in the place with most people walking by in the city, gives us the light for our way so that we can avoid stumbling. It’s never too late to bring that light of Wisdom into our hearts and see the way. I can hear the echoes of Crowder, “Praise the Lord, I saw the light!”

See Visions

December 29, 2022

Contemplating on the “Christmas Story” still this week. Did you ever notice the number of visions Matthew and Luke record in their stories?

  • Elizabeth
  • Zechariah (more than one)
  • Mary (several)
  • Joseph (several)
  • The Magi (including one to avoid Herod)
  • Simeon (at the Temple)
  • Anna (at the Temple)
  • The Shepherds

There were probably more that didn’t make it into the stories.

What was the most common command in the Bible?

Had to be Fear Not whenever God was about to communicate with people either through an angel or directly.

Have you ever experienced a vision? How did or would you react? Fear? Disbelief? Thinking it’s indigestion?

Sometimes these come to people to break through their fears and anxieties. Sometimes people cultivate a relationship with God such that God does speak to them.

I’ve had some. Two had major impacts even unto this day. Much like Peter was shown every unclean food and told to eat, I was shown all forms of sin and evil and told that within me I was capable of all sin. And that I was full of sin. And I was left with a feeling of humility–not to think of myself as perfect. Sometime later I was shown a more positive vision of humans of every race, ethnicity, gender all together at a huge party and God said these are all my children. Love them.

I don’t teach cultivating visions, but if they come pay attention to them. It could change your life.