Meditation And Spiritual Games We Play

I couldn’t wait for the big day.  I have 2 bucket list dreams for Christmas. One being Bethlehem and the second Notre-Dame Cathedral.  I have dreamed for years of visiting Notre Dame for Christmas.  Why Notre Dame? Ancient beauty, stain glass windows, and worshiping with many different nationalities and denominations. Not to mention its one of the most well-known church buildings in the world since 1163.  Why not?

Celebrating the birth of Christ at such a scenic and monumental location filled me with anticipation of awe. Instead, I was flooded with holy fear.  Although the beauty of the architecture was stunning, I was appalled to see the outside lined with homeless and needy, the inside filled with pushy tourists and annoyed noisy customers while a few worshippers sat quietly in their seats on center stage.  A bizarre sight indeed. I reflected on the numerous grand churches that are rising throughout my homeland with their amazing architecture and impressive relics while the outside world still filled with pain and anger not blinking as they pass by the extensive empty parking lots.  I began to contemplate my future, my kids future when it comes to our relationship with the Creator.  That’s when I made this list.  It’s an important list.  The world around us have become experts on meditation.  Therefore, I’ve made my list of not’s.

Meditation is not. . .

  • repeating mantras in uncomfortable positions.
  • relaxing.  It takes work to focus our thoughts on God and good but often results in a relaxed mind.
  • a practice for introverts and antisocial people only.
  • owned by one religion as if meditation originated from one man.  Not in the least, meditation like breathing began when man was created.  We were made for reflection and change as spiritual beings.
  • clearing your mind.  Good luck with that one!
  • dependent on location or environment.
  • going to church but church is 100% better for those who meditate.
  • studying the Bible but meditation will fill you with a fresh desire to study the Bible.
  • praying for your needs or others needs but mediation will turn into a flow of intercession that is like a stream naturally occurring from the source your soul, your spirit.
  • singing worship songs but your worship will intensify when you deepen your ability to walk in His presence through meditation.

kid worship Jesus
The kids and I sat still and observed the paintings of Christ in the Louve.  I loved hearing them reflect on these paintings and how each picture made them feel.  I hope these practices help them to learn to be still, to listen to God’s voice, to feel His presence and to focus on His nature.  
Why do I have to say this?  It’s the spiritual game we play.  We all have spiritual needs in ourselves and choose to fill it as we wish.  I tend to fill it with what comes easy.  For me, meditation IS NOT my nature.  I am an extrovert not a closet prayer warrior.  I figured I’d stay that way until I hit the nursing home at 90.  I did not realize the blessing that I could receive by meeting with God one on one.  Meditation makes me a better extrovert:)  I’m so glad I didn’t wait for the nursing home to learn that meditation and prayer is for all people!

Our spiritual walk is greatly impacted by our surroundings.  We live in a culture where quiet is often seen as lazy and unproductive.  There were times I believed that connecting with God could be done if I just go to church, listen to uplifting music, and read my Bible.  Check list done.  Therefore, the list of no’s is to say that I will not replace my time of meditation with anything else.  I need quiet times with Him everyday of my life no matter where I’m at.  I am at risk of treating religion like an empty cathedral; beautiful on the outside but irrelevant to a hurting world.  I must never forget this.  Spirituality must be changing me on the inside constantly if I have any hope of being and doing everything I am passionate about in this life.

In finality, take 10 minutes and begin your meditation with one who practiced it a lot.  Paul was alone in a jail cell for more days than I can count some 2,000 years ago and his inspired guide for meditation can be found in Philippians.

“. . . whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

What would life look like if we lived like that?!  I look forward to hearing from many of you as you contemplate what is written here.  What is your definition of meditation?  What does it look like for you?

Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spiritual Walk: Part 1

Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spirituality: Part 2

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Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spirituality: Part 2

As I enjoy this Easter weekend with family and friends, I’m reminded of the many benefits of meditation in my life.  One benefit being in a constant state of being ready to be with others.  Often we may socialize, listen to our kids or spouse, but in our mind be miles away.  Meditation allows the mind to reflect on events as they pop in during worship, adoration of the Father, or times of peaceful prayer.  When one allows this time purposefully at the beginning of the day, a clear mind results and an increased desire from God to love others.  When I feel drained half way through the day, I know its time for quiet with my Savior again, at times ending in a peaceful nap. Here I would like to share with you what meditation does for me personally.

What Does Meditation Do?

Health and Social Benefits

Some of the benefits I find from times of meditation are joy, knowing I’m loved, washed from guilt, happiness, preventing depression and anxiety bouts, gushing love for others from my family, friends, and strangers, a desire to share my Faith, a greater desire to read the Bible, a desire to sing praise songs, overcoming temptation, forgiving others more easily, and I could go on and on.

There are numerous physical, social, and emotional healing and good than I have time to explain here but google it and you will see plenty of research including preventing heart disease, divorce, cursing at children, panic attacks, suicide, etc.

Hearing The Voice of God

The best benefit is actually hearing from God and receiving His guidance for everything small and big in life.  Cool, huh?

“I am writing these things to warn you about those who are trying to lead you astray.  But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true.  For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know and what he teaches is true it is not a lie.  So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowships with Christ.” (1 John 2:26-27).

This is the most important part of me as a spiritual being and may be a big reason why so many people feel so screwed up in spite of their faith in God.  We think we are balanced in life.  We are educated and know that we are spiritual, emotional, social, and physical beings.  But, we fill the spiritual spot with church, prayer, and Bible without the quiet hearing that is necessary to be guided in all of those religious activities.

Deeper Meaning To All Spiritual Activity

Without mediation my religious activities became habitual empty rituals because, as said in 1 John 2:27, our teaching should be dependent on fellowship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  Without this, I become an empty life, who has activity but no power, love, or connection to the source.  Could this be why so many are not satisfied with church these days?  Could it be that many are looking for spirituality in the wrong place?  I don’t know.

Effectively Manage My Time In Light Of The Word

This was me.  I use to think of Enoch as an Old Testament figure which could not exist today.  Moses not having a busy schedule of meetings so of course he had 40 days.  David was but must have had plenty of time extra time to mediate and write what he heard from God.  But, how many pages can I fill with what I heard from God personally?  Am I busier than these men?  Is it not possible to “pray without ceasing?” If it is, how many people do I know who do?  Once I contemplated these excuses, it changed me.

Daily Guidance

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Ps. 25:5)  I read this verse again and again and again.  I came to realize when I was living isolated without a church anywhere near me, “why do I think that all guidance is going to come from a preacher on Sunday? Should I depend on the outside world and church to feed me when God asked me to feed myself?  All day long?  How do I do that and work, raise kids, and attend to my social schedule?  After meeting many saints today, I came to realize that many people are living this verse each day.  Sacrificing their time to define spirituality how the Bible defines it and not the culture around them.  With this and many other verses in mind, I had to ask myself, am I balanced spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially?  Was my church activity mainly social or spiritual enough to sustain me daily? Don’t get me wrong, church is awesome but became even better when I was hearing from God through meditation.

Confidence

Mostly I can know with confidence that I will have His presence in my life of transition.  Often I feel scared not knowing where we will live in a year, my kids education, whether I will suffer from depression or anxiety again.  But knowing that I will have meditation to sit with God and be guided by Him, calms these fears of the future and helps put in perspective His sovereignty and my submission to Him.

Mediation = freedom of stress for my future, clarity of mind, confidence that cannot be gained elsewhere.

It’s thoughts like these that changed me and helped me practice meditation on God as a key to spiritually walking in His power, seeing amazing miracles, and answered prayers. Hearing His voice is more beautiful than a waterfall flowing at its height.  His voice is almost musical and touches every sense.  It cannot easily be transitioned into words.

I would rather live 1 day in His presence than 1,000 days elsewhere and can say that without hesitation. Which brings me up to the last point in the discussion of benefits:

What spiritual aspect do I think is most important to pass on to my children?

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With the next generation dropping out of the church scene faster than they graduate from high school, parents need to decide what they will pass on to their children.  We all know that passing on church itself without change in the home is disaster but I think we need to take it even deeper.

Our kids need to know how to receive from God guidance, godly wisdom, protection through temptation, a hand to carry them through their hurts that will meet them wherever they are spiritually and physically.

This is why meditation will always be important to me and priority to teach to my family.  I would love to hear from you and your experiences!

If you missed Part 1 of this series the link is here: Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spiritual Walk: Part 1

Continue to follow for the final part of the series on meditation: How mediation can make all aspects of your spiritual walk more significant.

Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spiritual Walk: Part 1

There is no better time than Easter to learn and practice this ancient foundational art! I want to share this part of my life with you because it is key, life changing, and the basis of any and all good in me.  Silent meditation or hearing God speak to me, is how I accomplish all the activity in my life and do it well.  I have to speak up about this.  No other activity can take place of my blessed dependence on God alone in a silent room.  I speak because many of you have asked me to speak honestly about “how I do what I do.”  If I don’t share this with you, then I am taking the credit that God deserves.

When did meditation become real for me?  Sixteen years ago, I moved to Cambodia with high dreams of attaining much in helping others and starting a life of adventure.  I kinda figured that the spiritual walk would come easy for me (naive, I know!).  I assumed since I was doing a good work for God, that He would bless me with a dynamic filling of Him each day.  Little did I know that being far from my spiritual mentors, church of any sorts, Christians, and a Biblical culture would drain my spirituality to. . well. . ZERO.

It didn’t take long till I felt empty inside, far from God, facing temptation, unhappy, hot, culture shock, and going through the motions.  I spent the next 5 years learning to deal with this by participating in Bible studies and attending church in another language.  Still, I can tell you that hearing God’s voice was occasional at best.  I was doing good but not feeling filled.  This changed when I learned to pray.  Through reading about prayer, I was led to meditation, dwelling in God’s love and acceptance, and being filled by BEING with Him.  Here are the questions I began to ask. . .

“Why don’t Christians talk about meditation?”

 “Is meditation in the Bible?”

“Does meditation have an important part of my life?”

I have sought the answers for myself and want to share some conclusions with you.

I began contemplating the beginning.  At Creation, before any religion was conceived, there was meditation.  God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. A beautiful scene walking hand in hand with the Maker who created relationships for Himself.  In this garden all provisions are met, not a tear until separation began.  Then there was Enoch who walked with God and then just disappeared. Wow. I have sat and thought about this example and the fact that the Bible kind of stops here a sec and allows us to see how this one man stands out.  He learned to listen to an unseen God.  I began to see that Meditation is us being restored to our original true place as God’s creation being blessedly dependent on the God of all.  Our quiet waiting on the Maker to be made one with Him and learn to dialogue and walk hand in hand again.

Secondly, I came to realize that meditation is explained throughout the Bible but the words are often overlooked.  Phrases such as presence of God, waiting on God, listening to God, being still, etc.  When I began to see these examples throughout the Bible, I realized that this is meditation.  I began thinking about the lives of the saints who came before us and how they meditated.  Moses was on that mountain for 40 days.  I contemplated what those days looked like.  I had to realize that he was not catching up on Facebook or watching Netflix:)

Third, Psalms is a book of meditation and I began looking at this book as my guide.  As I’ve read about God’s sovereignty in Psalms, I’ve come to realize that all creation waits on God (Ps. 104:27).  If we were like the animals with no free will, we too would be with him day and night like the rest of His creation. Darn it free will!  It’s always messing with me! I’ll share a few amazing life-changing examples from Psalms in part 2.

Lastly, there are many people who have practiced meditation, listening to God, waiting on God and have written about it.  “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence Andrew Murray has many resources about meditation my favorite being “Waiting on God.”  After reading these and many other stories, I realized that it was foundational for me to hear from God in meditation.

meditation

What Is Meditation?

This is my personal definition of meditation:

Meditation is an act of faith in my absolute need and absolute guidance from God, in harmony with God.  Meditation is unity displayed by God, Jesus, and His Holy Spirit in me. Perfect harmony found from inside of me and not dependent on my outside world.  Found in quiet moments set aside for His purpose.”

Meditation is not depending on articles, books, sermons, as my MAIN source of hearing from God but getting quiet with Him and expecting Him to speak to little Ole me.

beautiful sunset

How Do I Meditate?

  1. I set aside my best time of the day for Him.  I began this journey by pleading with God for His help and the filling of the Holy Spirit to meditate.  I want Him to teach me.  I know He will give me however much of Him I desire so I am clear to begin by telling Him that I want all of Him.  I ask His help because I am incapable being that I am human and have the craziest wandering mind ever! I pray that He would take away anything in my life that comes between Him and me.  These are dangerous prayers and I don’t regret it a bit.  Although, I will tell you that prayers like this will change your life.
  2. After a time of worship and focusing on the trinity and each of their glorious roles, I open my Bible to Psalms.  This book is filled with meditation and reflections from meditation.  I’m not going to say where you should start but God will tell you as He did for me.  I began seeing the Psalms as meditation and prayer to guide my thoughts.
  3.  At times, I clear my schedule and mind for as many days as I can allow at a time (usually 1, this is still a journey for me too).  I spend time repenting. I remind myself that there are Godly saints around this world who fast and pray for days.  Many of them.  I live in an epidemic of noisy religion instead of a peaceful one that depends on God for all things.  Among the saints this is considered a disease, I repent and am free.  I’ve realized that my culture is a part of me and the sins of my culture are also in me. I recognize that I am often lukewarm in my pursuits towards God.  I ask for God’s help to find true religion: loving God and loving others. I am incapable of the second command until I figure out meditation first.  It is in my waiting on God that I find love and the ability to love.
  4. I expect to hear from God.  I agree to not move until I do. I know that God, being sovereign, is in control of my day and staying with Him is never a waste of time.  I remind myself that many people around the world are joining me.  They may live in Syria, China, or America but they are my brothers and sisters dependent on Him.
  5. I know that my mind is weak and keeping my thoughts fixed on Him for long periods of time is hard, takes practice, but is doable.  If you find your mind wandering off, just gently bring it back to focusing on Him.  I will take a break and sing a few songs, read a few passages, then continue again.

There is so much more to share and I feel words don’t explain half of it.  If this spoke to you, continue to follow the next 2 parts of this series as I work at putting to words something so mysterious to me.

Please feel free to share comments including your own experience.  If you would like to share these 3 posts, please let me know.  Thank you!

Next: How my life changed with meditation and how your life can change too.

 

 

 

Pain and Poverty Have The Same Smile

Women smile. People assume we’re happy. Living in Southeast Asia, the “Land of Smiles” has taught me an unforgettable lesson. A smile doesn’t show what is in the heart. How do I know?

I mastered the art of fake smiles.  I smiled at you when I was in my deepest pit of depression overwhelmed by the cloud of hopelessness that surrounded me.  I smiled at you at the same moment of suffering a panic attack while feeling a swelling pit of fear convincing me my life was over.

Why did I smile?  Why didn’t I tell you?  Because I was your cheerleader.  I was the one to brighten your day.  You looked to me as your leader, encourager, mentor.

I wanted you to think that I was strong.  If I hide my weaknesses, maybe I would be strong.

I’m a Christian, if you see me weak you will think I deserve it because of some sin. Maybe I shouldn’t be leading others. I didn’t want you to doubt me.

My thoughts feel out of control.  Am I out of control? I mustn’t let you see.

Can I be beautiful and weak at the same time?  I want you to think I’m pretty.  Do you see the swollen eyes, my emaciated body, my thinning hair or did I hide it well?

You think I’m strong, independent and I don’t want to change that image of me.

You have always depended on me calling me your role model, teacher, mother, wife.

If you saw the pain, you’d have questions. But I’m sorry friend, I don’t know why I’m depressed or anxious.

From this lack of vulnerability on my part I learned, she’s not sharing with me either.

Your looking at a 23-year-old women. She is illiterate, been abused her whole life, averages 2 meals a day on a good day, she desired to end her life.

We’re friends now.

This picture was the first day I met her. I’m glad I learned the “unforgettable lesson.” When I see this smile, I look for pain. After an hour of prodding, the tears fall. What’s inside seeps out. Healing begins.

Don’t mistake a smile for happiness. Practice looking deeper.

How can you tell if a friend is hurting inside and faking that smile or is honestly happy?

Vulnerability can seem unthinkable but without it we are just a lonely shell.

Are you being vulnerable with your weaknesses?

“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.” Rick Warren


Dig deeper with your friends and family today.  I am so glad so many choose to do so with me.

 

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