Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

Personality

August 4, 2022

The woman next door dressed most of the summer in the back yard in very skimpy bikini swim suits. Yet, she did not exude sensuality–that special personality.

A teenage girl talked with me about a career in entertainment. She possessed a marvelous singing voice. Her posture, however, portrayed defeat. I tried to guide the discussion into the areas of self-assurance, personality,

I was a nerd as a teenager with no particular personality until I was almost 30.

Listening to Guy Kawasaki’s podcast interview with Abraham Paskowitz about surfing brought out a key component of personality–that inner joy with being and with doing what you love.

I think Jesus had that characteristic–doing what he was meant to do and enjoying it immensely (well, except for those three days).

The Apostle Paul’s preaching was so bad that once he put a young man to sleep. He was unfortunately sitting in an open second floor window, fell out, died, and had to be revived by Paul–who went on preaching. But he must have exuded that inner joy of doing what he was meant to do.

Having a personality infused with the fruit of the spirit–love, joy, peace, and so forth–shines through the personality. People can tell. We can tell. It’s quite a way to live.

Further Questions of Ourselves For Guidance for the New Year

January 7, 2022

A couple of days ago, I asked a number of questions to guide us toward health for the new year. Let’s take it deeper with some questions from today’s reading in the Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community.

  • Why do we call impossible what God calls possible?
  • Why do we call unforgivable what God has forgiven?
  • Why do we compromise with what God calls sin?

How we need to know God’s heart, and reach out in His love and wisdom to others.

Maybe those are questions we can write on a note card to place on our desk to remind us daily. Especially when we are discouraged. Or when we are judging others harshly. Or when we are tempted.

Become the Master Over Anger and Lust

September 30, 2021

Evagrius teaches us, “The man who strives after true prayer must learn to master not only anger and his lust, but must free himself from every thought that is colored by passion.”

Evagrius was writing to monks in the 4th Century–to those who chose to separate from society in order to deeply seek after the spirit of God. True prayer meant that deep meditation where ones soul meets with the spirit of God and becomes transformed.

I’m not writing to male monks in the desert. You all are from different cultures and countries and religious backgrounds. But we all, American or Chinese or European, male and female, young and old, business people or technologists or retired, we all have in common the desire for God’s spirit to infuse and change us.

Some people in America think not wearing a surgical mask to protect themselves and others is true freedom. That is not what Paul was describing in his letter to the Galatians when he attempted to describe true freedom that comes from letting Jesus lead us into the kingdom of heaven.

True freedom is for those who live with-God and together master the turbulence of unmastered passions.

Asking In Prayer

September 20, 2021

Many times while I was at prayer, I would keep asking for what seemed good to me. I kept insisting on my own request, unreasonably putting pressure on the will of God. I simply would not leave it up to his Providence to arrange what he knew would turn out for my profit. Finally, when I obtained my request, I became greatly chagrined at having been so stubborn about getting my way, for in the end the matter did not turn out to be what I fancied it would.

Evagrius

How often we think we are smarter than God! Not thy will but mine be done.

How much better to seek the spirit within and without and go with the flow of God’s spirit.

Attached To Your Power Source

May 28, 2021

This week I interviewed the CEO for my technology blog. The company manufactures fabric with solar cells stitched in as part of the finished product.

Imagine that you are hosting some sort of outdoor reception. Perhaps in the large back yard of your mansion. Or perhaps at a park. You would like to have some lights. Perhaps you are generous and thoughtful enough to wish to provide some power outlets for your guests to charge mobile phones. Or wire one or more as a WiFi hotspot to provide Internet connection to your guests so that they can be rude and check social media during the reception (OK, I joke).

This company provides fabric for tents, canopies, or even large coverings perhaps to cover outdoor storage in an industrial setting providing enough electrical power to charge an electric fork lift.

The power source is attached to the product. It’s integral with the fabric.

This morning I thought about how life in the spirit must be like that. We have receptors like solar cells build right in. If we are so inclined we can tap into the power source.

The writers compiled into the New Testament must have had a vision similar to that. About us connected directly to the power source of the spirit. Our lights on and WiFi available to serve others.

The Wind Blows Where It Wishes

March 15, 2021

We read in the gospel of John, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

We moved from Ohio to northern Illinois last year. The terrain is similar–mostly flat. But Indiana seemed to suck much of the energy from the winds and storms before they reached Ohio. Up here, there is nothing until the Rocky Mountains that interferes. Yesterday and today we have winds of about 20 mph (32 kmph) with gusts up to 40 mph (64 kph).

The other day the winds were almost this strong, and it was my day to run sprints. For about a mile, I ran short sprints all out followed by a recovery walk for a bit. Running into the wind was difficult. Today, I’m looking out the window of my study and wondering if I should venture out before the snow comes in a few hours. I am unfortunately too heavy to be blown away (I’m working on that), but it’ll be a struggle.

In New Testament Greek, the same word is used for wind and spirit. You look at context for which meaning to pull out. Of course, the writers sometimes work a pun on the two meanings of the word. Thus Jesus, the master craftsman with words, ties together two thoughts–one that people obviously experience and one they may not be entirely sure about.

The spirit is like the wind in many ways.

Sometimes a gentle breeze the soothes the skin and soul.

Sometimes a force that propels you forward.

Sometimes, like in my running against the wind (sorry Bob Seger), it makes us stronger.

Sometimes it is a force that gets our attention causing awe or fear.

Mostly, like the wind, the spirit although not directly visible is real.

Spiritual Way of Life

January 6, 2021

What captures our attention? To what do we turn to feel empowered? Whom do we admire? How do we pass time?

I found this description of a people:

People wear fine clothes to adorn their external appearance.

They carry sharp swords by their sides and worship might rather than righteousness.

They know only to make merry by indulging in food and drink.

They crave to possess more riches than they could ever use.

This could have been written at almost any time during the past 4,000 years of humanity. This one was probably written 2,500 years ago or longer. I am fascinated by ancient writings, say the Proverbs which supposedly date back 3,000 years to the time of Solomon or before. What fascinates me is that we never change.

Yet, these (except for guns substituting for swords) words could have been written by a spiritual observer today.

These are not the path to a spiritual life.

As we contemplate the type of person we would like to become this year–this year of recovery from the Covid pandemic–we need to find these writings that help remind us of the spiritual path.

This path is well trod. It is actually straightforward and easy, yet we humans prefer the devious route, the hard route. Jesus, for example, talked of his burden as light and his yoke as easy. Take him at his word, and put it into practice while simply following his teaching.

The Wise Person Seeks Renewal

December 29, 2020

Ancient writers used the metaphor of returning to the root. Return to the source of spiritual nourishment.

Continuous renewal leads to clarity.

Clarity of thought. Clarity of purpose. Clarity of relationships.

Daily we return to the mediation chair or pillow to seek the renewal of the spirit. The rhythm of the daily seeking the spirit measures our spiritual life.

We are approaching the New Year of the Western calendar. The pause in activities for many during this period between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a perfect time to seek a longer range of renewal. Setting our minds on changing a habit that will lead us to clarity. If you are on the Chinese calendar or another one, just push the timing to match.

Pause…Focus on the Spirit of God…Seek renewal with intention. Make the new year a better one within what you can control.

Gluttony Is A Spiritual Problem

July 10, 2018

Gluttony is hypocrisy of the stomach, says John Climacus. And he adds this advice applicable as much today as 1,500 years ago–Control your appetites before they control you.

This is a spiritual problem as much as physical. We can practice diets, complain about heredity, have a hormone imbalance, but the problem is a spiritual imbalance. A long time ago, not having today’s words but with the same insights, they called these emotions demons. Demons were spiritual beings.

The problem with gluttony is that it is never satisfied. John talks of eating the entirety of Egypt and drinking the Nile dry and still not be satisfied.

To overcome gluttony one employs the spiritual discipline of fasting. In this we place the primacy of God’s spirit over the demon of the belly.

Speaking as the demon of gluttony, John with great insight discusses its “children”. Today’s psychologists might say something similar using different words.

“My firstborn son is the servant of Fornication, the second is Hardness of Heart, and the third is Sleepiness. From me flow a stream of Dirty Thoughts, waves of Filth, floods of unknown and unspeakable Impurities. My daughters are Laziness, Talkativeness, Breezy Familiarity, Jesting, Facetiousness, Contradiction, Stubbornness, Contempt, Disobedience, Stolidity of Mind, Captivity, Boastfulness, Audacity, Love of Worldly Things, followed by Impure Prayer, Distracted Thoughts, and sudden and often unexpected Catastrophes, with which is linked that most evil of all my daughters, Namely Despair.”

How much of that describes the times in which we live? Look in a mirror, and see the reflection as if for the first time.

A research paper just came my way ascribing the problems of our times to technology. As in much research about human behavior, there is some truth. I think these ancient sources point to much deeper, spiritual roots.

What Is Gained With Perception

June 18, 2018

[I took a short unintentional break last week. Traveling on both business and pleasure got me out of my routines. I suppose it’s a good thing.]

Meditation gives birth to perseverance, and perseverance ends in perception, and what is accomplished with perception cannot easily be rooted out.

I’m still climbing the ladder of divine ascent with John Climacus. Some classics need to be reviewed at times.

The seventh step is on Mourning. Introducing the topic, John includes the sentence quoted above.

The apostle Paul often spoke of perseverance using the metaphor of athletics. Training hard and persevering for the race. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews (which you’ll seldom see me quote from) also talks about running the race.

Jesus talked often of perceiving. As in “seeing they don’t perceive”.

As we sit (or stand or walk or lie) in stillness, persevering over days, months, years, decades, we perceive many truths. We deepen spiritually even though we may not realize it at the time.

John returns to the idea of calmness discussing other steps on the ladder.

As we begin a new week, developing this calmness by persevering in mediation will help us do this week what we should be doing.

As for me, I’m leaving shortly for Las Vegas and another technology conference. I’ll meet interesting people and learn new things. And if I persevere I won’t let the spirit of the “Strip” disturb the “force”.