Faith, Hope, & Love

Life, faith, surviving depression, Soulmates, relationships


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Tools or Witchcraft 

I know I haven’t written in some time, but this subject has been on my heart.  For the last year I have been exploring the  ancient healing practices of Reiki, crystals, and meditation.  Many of my dearest friends would and probably have said that I have walked not only off the deep end, but that I have walked away from the God I have served from the day I was born.  I can assure these dear ones that that is not the case.  For the last 10 years or so I have not been fed in the church like I was when I was young. I want the meat behind the Word, I want to truly live, and serve as the God I serve calls me to. I believe that God created all there is, the energy that flows through our bodies and all living things. I believe that God gives us this energy to use in healing, and bringing peace to the world. Reiki, crystals, and meditation are nothing more than tools to accomplish what God has called us to be, and do. God created our bodies with energy centers that assist the body in its daily function.  When those centers are out of balance they need to be brought back to the balance God intended.  Reiki and crystal healing use non-chemical energy to bring that about. 

One of the major problems for people today is the incredible amount of stress and depression that consumes not only our emotions, but affects our bodies and relationships in an adverse way. The Holy Scripture tells us time and again that we should meditate on His Word, allow it to become ingrained in our very being.  We are to know ourselves and those close to us. Meditation allows lessons to be assimilated completely, which helps us to react to a situation in love and self-control, without having to think about it.  It becomes an automatic action to what is before us. Meditation helps us to ground and center ourselves in the truth, to know ourselves, and honestly confront what we need to change. 

Allowing these practices I’m my life have helped me become healthier both physically and emotionally.  My soulmate, and best friend of my heart has brought all of this to my life and I thank God that He loved me enough to bring this loving man back into my life.  God wants His people to live abundantly, with joy and a light heart. Not in depression, need, and want. We are not truly useful if we are struggling every minute of our lives to just keep it together and and only desiring an end to our pain. 

Be a good Girl Scout and use your tools and resources wisely. 


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Week 11: Back to the Basics: Light Your World

14“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (NIV – Mt.5:14-16)

Every person is a light in their world, the light I’m talking about is our spirit/soul that radiates beyond our bodies and touches the other lives around us. The key here is what are we shining? Do we shine the principles of Christ, the Beatitudes, and the Fruit of the Spirit, or do we shine selfishness, anger, and hate? Of course, Jesus is encouraging his disciples and those listening to light their worlds with the kind of lives he described in previous verses, the Beatitudes, which are motivated and put in motion by love for all the people of the world.

In today’s larger world, and greater diversity covering every aspect of our lives, we have to look closely at what is lighting our candle; and, that we accept everyone no matter what they believe about faith, politics, or sexual orientation. Many of us have a strict belief system that refuses to bend to the progress of our times. My question to everyone whether you have a strict or liberal belief structure is – “Are you blowing out someone else’s light with your inability to accept someone else for who they are?” When our candle is lit by something other that complete “Agape” love, we have the potential to do more damage to those around us and cause further hurt.

Everyone has a light that has gone through times of trial that have either blown their light out completely, and some that have hidden their light behind great pain. I challenge everyone who reads this to take the time to examine yourself and your light closely, ferret out anything in your attitudes that are not lovely; then, ask yourself why you are holding onto something that causes hurt not only to others, but maybe yourself as well.

I love this Kathy Troccoli song, it makes you remember that not everyone has an easy life and that our love for others needs to be motivated by a love that is greater than what we can produce on our own.


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Week 10: Back to the Basics: Are you Salty?

Bowl of Salt

Matthew 5:13

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will it be salted? It is good for nothing except to be thrown outside and to be trodden upon by people. (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

So let’s talk about salt. I have to say I have looked forward to studying this verse. My favorite TV shows are cooking competitions such as: Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, Guy’s Grocery Games, and Master Chef. One of the biggest take a ways from these shows is that the thing that will get you chopped, eliminated, or sent home is lack of seasoning. Oh, for a little bit of salt, it makes a world of difference in the food we eat, whether sweet or savory.

Salt enhances the natural flavors of food, it preserves food to keep it healthy longer. Salt was also used to treat the soil before planting crops, and in the Old Testament, God told the priests to season the sacrifices-even the Divine likes salt with His meals. Sharing salt was also a way of sealing treaties of peace between warring peoples. So, salt is flavor, preservative, a way to make soil more productive, and a symbol of peace attained.

So, why did Jesus call believers the salt of the earth. Salt is used to make something plain, bland, or simple more appetizing, and symbolizes peace. The Gospel of Christ is simple and can become bland over time. You need to be salt in your relationships to prepare the soil of a friend’s life to accept the seed of the Gospel and for their lives to be made into fertile ground. The simple bland Truth needs the salt or seasoning of real life experience to catch a person’s attention, and keep them focused on what you are telling them. When this develops into belief, it then needs to be preserved by the salt of mentorship, and growth. The Salt of the Gospel then seals the treaty between a person and the Divine in a treaty of peace, and salvation.

Without the salt of testimony, life experience, and shared growing faith people will loose interest, and turn away from peace with the Divine. The message of the Gospel without relevance to the world, a Gospel that doesn’t keep up with the cultures, and progress through time becomes salt-less and bland. What takes our saltiness away? I know in my life it has been a holding to religion, traditional, and lack of growth in myself that has taken away the seasoning in my life. Unlike regular salt that can’t be made salty again, a person can regrow salt through growth, and (for me) meditation.  Asking questions, digging to find the truth and making it your own. Learning that what held as truth many years ago may need to re-thought through to be applied to life today.

So many times mainly in  the Old Testament people are encouraged to meditate on God’s word. To be honest, until recently, I have never practiced this tool to gain greater growth and understanding; not only of the Scriptures, but of myself and what holds the greatest meaning to me and my world. I encourage everyone to stop take a few minutes and look inside themselves, ask the Divine to unfold His word, and ask how this can give my life more seasoning bringing greater attraction to those around us.

Be Still and Know, Be Still and Believe~

 


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Daily Prompt – Punishment

Jill had lived the last few years in a private hell of her own making. All the memories and abuse from life had led her there. It was dark, cold, and damp in her private cell. But the cell was only in her mind. Jill had allowed others to make decisions for her, decisions that had made this trap into a prison. “Today is a new day, and things are going to change!” Jill said to herself. She had determined that today was the day that she would stand up for herself, this was her life and not someone else’s. She was going to walk out into the sun and shout for joy! No more darkness, no more cold, and she was going to move some place new and start over. Someone had asked her a few weeks ago why she punished herself, and what made her think she deserved it. She had walked away quietly crying to herself. Later that night she asked herself “why,” and took a look deep inside herself looking for the answer to that question. Looking closely there wasn’t a reason. She hadn’t done anything that required any kind of punishment, let alone deserving of the jail cell she had built and lived in. She found a magic inside herself pulling the bright energy from the sun outside the small window at the top of her wall. All that energy came to live inside her changing her and helping her to break free of her prison. She had just enough energy built up to blast her way out. With a joy she didn’t know was possible the wall crumbled and she walked out and was greeted by the small group of people who had been praying for this day for many years. Tears of joy and laughter greeted her as she began her new life in the sun.


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Week 9: Persecuted for Christ

Mercy

Matthew 5:11-12 New International Version (NIV)

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad,because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Last time I took a look at what it was to be persecuted for righteousness sake – for acting in a morally correct manner. And I pointed out that the verse didn’t mean to be persecuted for being a Christian, but for making the choice to live a moral life. This week’s Scripture is all about being persecuted for being a Christian or living a Christlike lifestyle.

Jesus uses words that we typically use for verbal abuse, and they are but looking further into the word “insult” actually has a stronger note of something that could be viewed as physical abuse. The Greek word, “oneidizō “ is what is used here and one of Strong’s definitions is to cast in one’s teeth. Gives me a picture of someone trying to bite or rip apart the object of their hatred. He (Jesus) ends by saying you will be falsely accused of all kinds of evil things. Here the Greek word is, “poneros” which is meant as an active form of evil in actions and speech and was used to describe Satan and demons.

Jesus, himself accused of being in league with the devil, and the Pharisees believed that all the good He did was done by the power of the devil and not God Almighty. Jesus also points out that the prophets were also persecuted this way. Persecution is nothing new it has been going on for as long as there have been people on the earth.

So, what is it about Christians and the prophets that cause people to be so insulted and enraged? It goes back to my last discussion on how we mirror the things that someone wishes they could be and are not by choice. Living a Christian lifestyle is to truly be a servant, to promote health and healing in those that are hurting and are unable to care for themselves. This is so contrary to today’s lifestyle that promotes living for self and using any means necessary to get a desired end result. Any charitable lifestyle is contrary to secular lifestyle and will be seen as a visible condemnation to the person living a lifestyle built on selfishness.

So, my question is this, “Are you being persecuted for your Christlike lifestyle?” I would say that if you are not, then you aren’t living your life loud enough. I can’t sugar coat this to make it more palatable for most of my readers. Rediscover the lifestyle we  were meant to live as Christians. Honor the leaders around you who are trying to bring you back to the simple loving lifestyle you were meant to live. I am not saying don’t take care of yourself and your basic needs, what I am saying is get rid of whatever keeps you from being open to the mission of Christ,

“to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise  instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Verse 12 gives us the reason we can go into this attitude with joy,

“12 Rejoice and be glad,because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” We are not alone in our persecution, we are part of group of people who have stood up for God Almighty before us.


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Back to the Basics: Week 8: Why we are Persecuted for Righteousness

religious-persecution

Matthew 5:10New International Version (NIV)

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

Many people think this verse means to be persecuted because of their Christian faith, but that is not is not what it really means. To fully understand this verse you need to first understand that the word Jesus uses here mean to righteousness. The word he uses is “dikaiosynē” pronounced, “dē-kī-o-sü’-nā.” It means: in a broad sense: the state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God

 

  • the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God
  • integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting
  • in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due.

 

 

It means living moral rightness, tolerance, and love. Living the life that Christ gave his life for so we could attain that acceptance by God. Whether you believe in original sin or original blessing, we all sin, we are all incapable of truly being righteous without Christ’s gift of salvation. To truly be accepted by God, we need to deal with the wrongness in our lives – now I’m talking conscious and unconscious sins and transgressions. Many times we don’t know or recognize when we have hurt someone whether it’s someone we know or don’t know. It is the example and reflection of our lack of love, tolerance and caring for everyone around us. It’s our natural response to judge and criticize everything in or around our lives, even if we don’t know – mostly don’t know – why someone is the way they are. Our need to make everyone fit in our box of what we think is moral rightness.

 

So, what does moral rightness look like besides just finding ourselves acceptable to God. It is walking in the lifestyle of the Fruit of the Spirit and the principles Jesus taught and the example he gave us. Jesus was sent to save every human being on the planet, he wouldn’t condemn someone out of hand because of his world views, he would listen, question, and then lovingly correct or help them understand God’s view. It’s the way Christ wants us all to live. There is freedom in this way of life. No longer are we concerned with being critical or judgmental, we are concerned with giving another person real unconditional love.

 

Why does this lifestyle attract persecution? We are all reflections or mirrors that let other people see that there are things in their life that hinder them from living a true life of freedom, and that is not pleasant. It is a reminder that they are not what they could be. This causes anger, and anger turns to hatred, that turns to tormenting the person that is making them feel bad about themselves. It goes back to the splinter in your brother’s eye when there is a plank in your own.

 

Now, there are many ways that we can be persecuted from shunning, to segregation, to being physically threatened or beaten or killed. No one is immune to persecution, we all have or will experience this probably more than once in our lives. And there is no avoiding it.

 

How do we come out on top of persecution? We realize that it is not necessarily us that is causing the anger being wrought on us, it is the self anger of the other person giving the persecution. We are just reflecting how they wish the could be, and haven’t figured out how to attain what we have. Jesus’ solution to this is to pray for those who persecute you, that they would become willing to see and hear what God has been trying to tell them about how He wants them to be – loving vessels that He can work through.

 

This is by no means easy. It’s probably the hardest thing for humans to do. Our human nature says to hit back – make the other person hurt as badly as they are hurting you. We need to come to the realization that the other person is hurting far more than the abuse they are giving us. It is remarkably like a wounded animal being cornered. So, live your life in compassion for these hurting people and continue setting your righteous example – there is no telling who will be touched and healed by your lifestyle of righteousness.

 

References

 

NIV from www.BibleGateway.com

www.BlueLetterBible.org


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Back to the Basics: Week 6: Purity – A Clean Conscience

bless03

Matthew 5:8 (NIV)

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

 

First, I want to say, “Thank you for your patience.” It has been a crazy couple of months with holidays and my 50th birthday. I have had a lot of attitude changes over the last few months. For those who deal with mental and physical illness, and not really liking who they are, it has been life changing. I have come to a place where I may not be feeling my best, but I have decided to truly enjoy my life and enjoy being a woman for the first time in my life.  I have several men in my life, who have helped me see the beauty I hold and haven’t seen for myself. I have always felt that being a girl/woman has been a disadvantage growing up and just came to a realization that I have been wrong for 50 years. Being a woman is not a disadvantage it is the power of showing the tender side of God and the beauty of creation.

So, what does this have to do with our passage for the week? It comes down to the meaning of purity and the purity of our hearts. We think of the surface meaning of purity as being clean, of not having a mixing of anything making us unacceptable. Like being 100% German, Scandinavian, Indian, French or whatever. We become so hung up on purebred that we forget that there is a purity of spirit and conscience that has nothing to do with our physical makeup.

The Greek word for purity in our passage is katharos it means what we believe about what it means to be pure but it has deeper meaning. It means to be ‘fit to bear fruit,’ containing nothing forbidden, free from corruption, guilt or sin. This is a cleanliness of mind and spirit- a renewal of innocence within our lives. We get the English word, ‘catharsis,’ which is the means by which we can become pure in mind and spirit. It is the process that is used to get rid of the dirt, mud, and grime that life and experience can throw at us to make us unlovable not only to ourselves, but to others. It is also the process of sanctification to make us presentable to a Holy and Righteous God. It also makes us more presentable to ourselves and others in our lives.

There are many ways to activate catharsis in our lives, but to begin we need to see that unloveliness live in our lives, have the courage to see that we have allowed this dirt and grime in our lives, realize the need to change, and have the courage to go after the sanctification that we need, want, and desire. Unfortunately, there is no one way that works for everyone. Each person needs to come to a place where they are ready to change and find the way that works for them. Some will need professional help, some will need spiritual guidance, and others may just stumble on their answers in the eyes of someone special.

I have a friend that has really had an influence on this change and has kicked in my ‘want to.’ His motto is “I am just living the life.” Meaning, at this point he is enjoying being single. I have taken that motto to heart and changed it to ‘Live Life, Don’t! Sit on the Bench of Life.’ He and my male roommates are helping me see the beauty I hold and I am coming to accept that beauty. I am worth being around and it’s okay to have fun and I don’t have to feel guilty that I am not serving someone else or being productive.

I am also exploring other religious point of views, thanks to my friend, Mark. My conclusion so far is that there is a commonality among the belief systems I have looked at; and it comes down to living out the fruit of the Spirit in a real and practical way. It’s not about religion it is about purity of conscience and how we view God, ourselves, other people, and creation.

This is purity – cleaning our minds, hearts, and spirits – walking in the reality of a pure conscience, loving not only God, but ourselves; and allowing freedom to release us from the prisons we have created for ourselves and others.

Lord God, I pray that those who read these words will see the beauty that you created in them and give them the freedom that your purity can give them. Amen.

 

The References I used are:

http://www.biblegateway.com

http://www.blueletterbible.com

http://www.dictionary.com