Archive for the ‘Intention’ Category

Body, Mind, Spirit

February 9, 2023

The Apostle Paul writes to the Jesus-followers in Corinth “don’t you know that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…” The context was to teach people living in a society that celebrated immorality (sound familiar to Americans?) to be intentional about what they do with their bodies because that connects to the spirit.

Some religions and philosophies consider the two separate. That was a major competitive philosophy/religion at the time of Paul. Unfortunately for us in the West, the philosophy of Rene Descartes became way too influential in our thinking divorcing spirit from rationality. Almost divorcing spirit from everything. Look around. Can you see it?

The longer I live, the more I find the truth of integrating body, mind, and spirit. 

That is why my daily practices as much as possible include spiritual reading, meditation, physical training, and reading/thinking. I recommend as much for everyone to the best of their ability within any limitations.

I’ve recently begun receiving a daily positive thinking newsletter from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Usually there are three different recommendations in each brief communication. You can check it out here.

Do Things With Intention

January 25, 2023

When I attended a Baptist church, I noticed a favorite metaphor of the preachers was to divide people into the “lost” and the “found”.

I’ve thought about lost. I observed some neighbors. They were lost. What does a person do when lost, say in the woods. Experts say they wind up walking in circles. Without a map and no idea of direction, they drift.

I’ve observed people just drifting through life. No purpose. No courage. Usually too much alcohol. Not enough discipline to maintain good health or a steady job.

The road to hell is not paved with good intentions. It is paved with lack of intention.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

I heard this idea quoted on a podcast some time ago. I’ve been pondering it.

How does this apply?

I intend to get up from this chair, walk over to the community clubhouse, exercise with some walking and Yoga, sit in the hot water of the spa (we don’t have a sauna). Then I’ll come back home for breakfast followed by study and writing about technology and strategies used in manufacturing.

Perhaps what Maté (and the words of Jesus and the Proverbs) mean about intention are deeper than that. I approach God with intention. Pray with intention. Serve others with intention.

Repentance, or Making Decisions

January 13, 2023

It’s January 13. How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?

There is no January rush at the community’s fitness center. I have no direct data, only observation–attendance in exercise classes is stable over the past year, again no January rush.

Has no one new decided for a healthy lifestyle this year?

There is a stream within the broader Christian church that emphasizes THE decision. You make one public statement that you wish to follow Jesus (the proper formula is “accept Jesus as Lord and Savior) and that’s it. Complete. Done.

I spent my entire adult life suggesting to people that that is not the end. It is the beginning.

The stories of Jesus tell us he taught repentance–that is a decision to change the direction of your life. His cousin John taught similarly.

A sub-theme of the Proverbs tells us that many decisions we make determine the type of life we will experience.

Every day we face decision points that determine our life.

  • take an ethical shortcut
  • tell a small falsehood
  • help someone with a bulky package while shopping
  • give some money to a charity
  • donate some time to someone who needs support

And finally, a proverb for politicians the world over:

“The righteous hate falsehood,
but the wicked act shamefully and disgracefully.”

Proverbs 13

Enough Is A Feast

September 26, 2022

Enough is a feast.

Everywhere you look or listen, others tell us we Americans must pursue more. This is no doubt true in many other parts of the world. Messages from advertising, TikTok, YouTube, friends tell us we need more clothes, more cosmetics, more money, bigger house, new car. If you are not seeking a promotion at work, you are a failure.

A man came to Jesus and asked him to tell his brother to give him more of an inheritance. Jesus replied with a story. A farmer had a bountiful crop. He had so much that he planned to tear down his barns and build bigger ones to hold all the grain. Then God said to the farmer, “Fool, today your soul will be demanded of you. Now, of what use will the bigger barns be.”

Jesus offered the point of the story. “This is what happens when you fill your barn with Self rather than God.”

When we know where are true priorities are, then striving for more is a waste. Enough is a feast.

Everything In God

July 27, 2022

Everything comes from God;

Everything happens through God;

Everything ends up in God.

Apostle Paul in Romans 11

I am letting these words infuse in my soul.

Infuse–like tea leaves in hot water. Release their essence throughout the water making a new substance.

Paul thinks of the beginning and the end and everything in between. And it’s all God.

That is why when we open the Bible, we must look for God. Reading with a receptive attitude where God can speak to us. Allow the infusion of the spirit within us making a new substance.

Why do we search for lists of things with which to compare ourselves with others? Everything comes from God. There is no comparison. There is only God in all.

Everything points toward God as we all move toward him.

Pierre Teilhard envisioned the end of the world with this quote from Paul, “God will be all in all.”

Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:28

Who are we to tell God what to do? We are nothing apart from God.

Equanimity

September 3, 2021

The community here in illinois where I now live has not one, but two, Facebook pages. That’s overkill. I grace at them every other day or so just in case there may be some interesting news–like the expansion of the local ice cream shop.

There are about five women posting daily recently feeding on each other’s complaining. One starts, another chimes in with something worse, and so it goes. Lately it’s all about the lawn care provided by the Home Owners Association.

I thought, how easily we get caught up in a cycle of complaining, negativity, anger. It builds into even actual hate.

Equanimity came up on today’s podcast. The ability to stay calm, even tempered.

Equanimity can be learned. Not intellectually, but deep within the soul. Usually it comes gradually. Best if inculcated intentionally. It took years of meditation and practice.

A new soccer referee wrote the other day. We are in the second week of the high school season. I’m the assignor. He had made one of those “controversial” calls. Tough call for a foul that the coach objected to loudly. That got the parents riled. Lots of yelling. He figured I’d be getting a call from the school. I told him not to worry. I have many years of experience defusing situations, but that mostly people forget after the game.

He will learn to develop equanimity, or else he will not last.

And those women on Facebook? I know that people exist who get joy from being negative. But a little equanimity might make life better for them and those around them.

And every day I must practice breathing intentionally. Maintaining equanimity is not “one and done.” It requires a lifetime of practice.

Running From and To

July 29, 2021

We often run toward solitude and away from people when our soul suffers provocation. Rather than confront and resolve, we run and hide. We wallow in self-pity fanning the flames of anger, jealousy.

When our soul is stirred by lust, rather than flee we run to groups of people. Perhaps we seek the solace of another body or encouragement in the pursuit of that which we lust for.

Famous people have observed that we are drawn to do that which we know we don’t want to do or don’t do that which we know we should.

How much better to run toward reconciliation to quell harsh emotions and to flee quickly that which draws us into doing what we know harms us.

[Thoughts upon reading from Evagrius Ponticus, The Praktikos.]

Whom Do You Eat With?

May 26, 2021

After Matthew gives us an example of how Jesus taught by detailing the Sermon on the Mount, he provides a series of brief vignettes of Jesus doing things. He heals, travels back and forth across the lake, chats with people. There’s Jesus teaching and then Jesus in action.

In one story, he tells of Jesus coming by his tax collector’s booth. Jesus offers an invitation, “Follow me.”

And he did.

Then, there was a large celebratory dinner at Matthew’s house. Jesus was there with his disciples (most likely the closest 12). Evidently everyone was having a good time eating, drinking, talking.

Large dinners were held in a courtyard of the housing compound. They’d be along the street where anyone could walk by and see who was at dinner.

The proper, uptight church folks came by wearing their scowls, I’m sure. They were offended. Here was a rabbi publicly at dinner with people who were not proper church society types.

They took some disciples aside, “Why does your teacher eat with sinners and tax collectors?”

Where I used to live there was a larger, famous bar called The Pub. It was a notorious hangout for men having dates with women who were not their wives, as well as other types of people not expected in one of the many churches in the area. We had a pastor who (with permission) took Sunday night church to The Pub. A Catholic friend of mine asked me if he could go. “Sure.” He wondered if he could have a beer while there. “Sure.”

I have known people who intentionally invite diverse groups to dinner regularly.

But I am wondering, who are we all seen dining with? Can we be strong with Jesus who said that it is the sick who need a doctor, not the well. Do we only associate with the church people? Or maybe have a beer with those in need of a kind word?

Are You A Pilgrim or a Tourist?

February 11, 2021

This question appeared in my reading the other day. What a marvelous question to ask of ourselves if we look at our spiritual formation as a journey.

Do we travel around, visiting here and going there? Sample a little of the sights, perhaps in the comfort of a tour bus? Try the food–a little, perhaps with trepidation? We have no expectations of staying. Of meeting people and making friends. Of learning some of the language and customs. Adding to our personal cuisine.

Perhaps we have a destination. A journey to a sacred place. The journey has meaning. We pick up new habits along the way. We learn new things. Our minds expand from formerly provincial attitudes. We learn about new people. Perform large or small acts of kindness along the way–growing more frequent as we journey farther.

Perhaps we pick up our little notebook and a good pen and write some notes. Where are we now on the journey? How have we been a tourist? How have we been a pilgrim? What new attitudes can we work on to spend more time as a pilgrim, less as a tourist?

I love that question. It reframes the journey. I desire pilgrimage, not sight-seeing trip.

On Being Content

January 5, 2021

Part of my career was devoted to the magazine business. Now I write blogs and other words call CON-tent. Appropriate filtering of all the CONtent that is shoved our way is one way to assist our being conTENT.

Thinking of the latter meaning of content, I began to wonder if we are living in an age of discontent. Everywhere I read, I see signs of this malaise. Then I turn in my chair and scan my bookshelves. Literature, history, philosophy–all point to times of discontent.

No wonder. We are inundated with content intentionally designed to feed discontent. If our emotions get aroused, we are more prone to longer engagement with the platform whether TV or social media. It’s a business proposition for them. More engagement leads to higher prices for advertising and thus to more profits and higher salaries.

We have the power to change that equation if we but chose to limit the flow.

Another practice includes pausing. I thought of the image from the Psalms (23) about lying by a cool, clear pond on a warm day. Wildlife, and flowers, maybe my favorite pet. The sun from the blue sky warms my body. My needs are cared for.

Many of us could only do that for so long before going crazy. Getting up and doing something which provides a service for others is another path to contentment.

I discussed generosity and kindness last week. I would add contentment to those as words to describe what I’d like to be this year.