Over the years, as I was asked certain questions about the Meaning of Life and/or experienced its Truths myself, I tended to make notes about my discoveries, opinions and findings. Over time, these notes became various articles that I then sent to whomever showed interest. One of the purposes of this website is to make all of these collections available to the public. Every poem, pamphlet, article, calendar and book I have ever written will soon be included herein, and all of them will be able to be directly downloaded free of charge. I feel that I have received this information freely from the Universe, and thus I gladly give it all freely back to each of you ...
In order to make your search through what will soon be hundreds of different writings more efficient, I have grouped them into the five main categories below ...
Tools and Handbooks
Juggernauts of Justice
I have faith that you will find what you are looking for. If not, of course, please feel free to contact me and ask for more information on the question or theme that is of particular interest to you.
Over the last several years of travelling and sharing with folks what I've learned about making inner Peace an everyday reality, I have been frequently asked to describe the rituals I use to make that journey a smoother one. Our human consciousness tends to "drift" into self-centeredness and/or superficiality during any routined action or in any familiar setting. And, as the "typical life" is built around such routines performed in such settings, it is important that we regularly pause to re-Mind ourselves of our higher Purpose. Of course, every person is unique, and it makes sense that every person's "grounding tools" would be different as well. Still, it is my intention with this article to describe most of the rituals, prayers and meditations I use and have used, with the sole intention of inspiring each of you to create your own set of "re-focusers" that you can utilize to re-empower your own journeys through Life. Use what follows verbatim, or develop and practice your own versions thereof. Regardless, when we dedicate a few brief moments throughout our day to remember exactly who it is we wish to Be, it makes it that much easier during the rest of the day to make that vision our Reality ...
When I first commenced with my "Journey of re-Discovery", I became overwhelmed by the immense volume of virtues and values that all seemed integral to the re-actualization of my True Self. To that end, I sub-divided the days of the year into 9 major areas of focus and gave each of them a color (and a number below, in case you are not reading this "in hue") that harmonizes with their fundamental archetypes. This "new calendar" (it's dates are mentioned in the parentheses that follow each color/virtue) allowed me to powerfully ground myself using only one particular "facet of Enlightenment" per day; making my meditations, prayers and rituals more focused, which allowed me to concentrate the majority of my energies every day on that which matters most: namely, active sefless service for others ...
Without going into to much detail, it is sufficient to know that the following colors/numbers in this article are associated with the following virtues/values:
01 Black -- Solitude & Peace (December 1st & every 9 days thereafter until the following November 17th)
02 Red -- Patience & Spontaneity (December 2nd & every 9 days thereafter until the following November 18th)
03 Orange --Creativity & Pro-Action (December 3rd & every 9 days thereafter until the following November 19th)
04 Yellow --Gratitude & Growth (December 4th & every 9 days thereafter until the following November 20th)
05 Green --Kindness & Compassion (December 5th & every 9 days thereafter until the following November 21st)
06 Blue --Healing & Honesty (December 6th & every 9 days thereafter until the following November 22nd)
07 Indigo --Wisdom & Humility (December 7th & every 9 days thereafter until the following November 23rd)
08 Violet --Wonder & Awareness (December 8th & every 9 days thereafter until the following November 24th)
09 White --Community & Celebration (December 9th & every 9 days thereafter until the following November 25th)
It is important to emphasize that, while such tools are immensely helpful in re-focusing on your True Self, inner Peace comes only when that refreshed focus manifests itself in acts of selfless service. And yet, when regularly engaged, they are indeed quite useful. So without further ado, here are the rituals I have successfully used (and many of which I still employ) to re-focus on that which is all-Important: the ultimate task we all face in every moment of our lives -- namely, the challenge to set aside our self-centered concerns and strive instead to bring others Joy and /or relieve their burdens ...
Part I: Entering the Morning (i.e. "getting up")
The waking hour is a time not only to reactivate your body and mind, but is also the perfect time to "reawaken" your True Self. It has been my personal experience that re-focusing my intentions in the early morning makes it much easier during the remaining course of the day to actualize that shift to selflessness. One of the first rituals I developed for mySelf I called "S9" -- referring to 9 actions (each of them commencing with the letter "S") with which I chose to start each morning. The first three are geared towards awakening the mind, the middle four focus on strengthening the body, and the last two re-unite the practitioner with his/her Soul. Whether you employ all, some or only one of them, enJOY!
Smile while simmering ... As I awaken each morning (preferably without the "help" of an alarm clock, and always with enough time to engage this ritual without hurry), I simply pause in calm and slowly "simmer" my way into the waking state -- letting my thoughts float in and out of the moment; continually bringing them back to the innate calm of the present. While doing so, I repeatedly choose to smile in gratitude, and I do so regardless of the circumstances of my life at the time. If I am happy, I smile in gratitude. If I am nervous (for whatever reason), I smile in gratitude. If I am sad (for whatever reason), I smile in gratitude. If I am healthy, I smile in gratitude. If I am not feeling well, I smile in gratitude. I simply re-Mind myself that Life itself is reason enough to be Thank-filled. With this Truth fully in my conscious awareness, I enter my morning ...
Note: It is exponentially beneficial to close the day in this manner as well -- "simmering" in pure Gratitude as you fall asleep each night ...
Solar Greeting ... The second ritual I often engage is a Joy-full greeting of the sun. More so than any other celestial body, our sun is responsible for our ability to live. And, even on cloudy days, it is deeply affirming to remember this and pay homage to this immense gift. So, after simmering for a few minutes, I turn my face to the sun and "soak it up" (smiling with this one is practically involuntary!).
Note : If it's cold out, this can be done through a window, though it is much more powerful if you go outside for a few moments and accept the sun's warmth "in person" ...
Soul Shine ... The third ritual is an act that verbally affirms the True Self. Thought is powerful indeed, and yet when our intentions are voiced aloud, their frequency is magnified tremendously -- and made that much more "effective" as a result. Thus, often while gazing in a mirror, I utter one of the following nine affirmations of True Self. This practice re-minds myself of that day's particular focal point, and additionally reawakens my ego's awareness to the objective existence of that True Self within ...
01 Black/Solitide ... "Re-awakening to my innate wholeness, I Am what I can BE - At One with the Universe."
02 Red/Patience ... "Flowing with God's all-loving will, I engage each moment's opportunities to serve others."
03 Orange/Creativity ... "Assisting others to re-member their own True Selves, I Am what I DO – with every space sacred and every time right."
04 Yellow/Growth ... "Expressing gratitude for both my blessings & my challenges, I courageously believe in The Life -- Calling Me to a Higher Purpose."
05 Green/Compassion ... "Casting evil forces (a.k.a "enemies", "demons", etc.) back into the Love within themselves, I empower The Way with my kindness."
06 Blue/Healing ... "Awakening others' to their own innate Divinity, I heal by witnessing and affirming The Truth within them."
07 Indigo/Humility ... "Intending to harmonize with the messages sent me in every moment, I consciously submit my ego's self-centered desires to the seflless inclinations of my conscience (a.k.a. the Will of God)."
08 Violet/Wonder ... "Honoring God by being present to wonder, I re-member that I Am a messenger of The Way of Oneness."
09 White/Community ... "Faith-fully one with the flow of the Universal Totality, I Become what I innately AM - God re-Born in the flesh."
Stretch ... The next four rituals are geared towards enLivening the vessel that carries the Soul throughout the day -- namely, the body. The first of these is simply stretching. Rather than follow a prescribed stretching routine, I choose to enjoy a few moments of intuitive limbering; simply stretching the body parts that feel most in need of the same. That having been written, it is almost always the case that raising one's hands slowly to the heavens and then bending smoothly towards the Earth (a.k.a "touching your toes") feels Right and serves to reawaken the freshly awakened mind-body to the "vertical axis of Life" ...
Strength ... To continue to honor the "machine" that carries Me through my life, I then flow into activities geared towards strengthening that vessel. Contrary to popular belief, we only need to engage a few excercises to fully strengthen the entire body. Just two sets of pushups (with your knees on the floor if otherwise too strenuous), two sets of pullups (with your feet on a box/chair if otherwise too strenuous), two sets of lunges (without weights if otherwise too strenuous) and two sets of situps provide the entire body with more than enough strength training for the average person ...
Shower ... As cleanliness (all forms thereof, from humble thinking to emotional acceptance to physical purification) truly is next to godliness, I next honor my existence by showering or bathing. To honor the Earth, of course, I attempt to enjoy shorter showers, and I remember to consciously feel myself being deeply cleansed while doing so. In essence, I make each shower every morning a re-baptism of my True Self -- granting me a "fresh start" to Life that day, regardless of what my recent past has sown or reaped ...
Sustenance ... Next, with the intention of fueling my mind-body for its upcoming day of selfless service, I choose to consciously eat a hearty breakfast. Studies are consistently showing that those who eat large, healthy breakfasts are consistently fitter and more focused than those who do not. Thus, I choose to honor my physical existence by eating foods that effeciently energize my Soul's "machine" (e.g. goat yogurt with fresh fruit, nuts and bit of granola is incredible!) -- and doing so slowly and consciously ...
Silent Stillness ... After eating, it simply makes "good sesne" to pause for 5-10 minutes in silent stillness to digest. Also, with the body's blood flow automatically shifted to the stomach's digestive efforts (and away from the neo-cortex's thinking ones), it is a brilliant time to meditate (a typically "right-brained" activity that does not require intense, "left-brained" concentration) -- though meditation is not a requirement of this ritual ...
Salutation to God/Life/the Universe ... Finally, I segue from silent stillness into a short, intense, gratitude-based prayer to God (however you name God, even if that name is "Nature" or "chi" or "reason", is irrelevant) ... Accordingly, while still grounded in my "morning at home", I utter one of the following prayers ...
01 Black/Solitude ... "Dear God, Know that I accept all that IS in my Life -- I feel at One with your gentle Presence."
02 Red/Patience ... "Dear God, Feel that I desire and intend to harmonize with every moment with which I am Blessed."
03 Orange/Creativity ... "Dear God, I desire to do your Will; thereby Becoming an active force aiding the flow of your Highest Good."
04 Yellow/Growth ... "Dear God, I am grateful for every challenge in my Life; seeing them as affirmations of my personal Power."
05 Green/Kindness ... "Dear God, Re-mind me to forgive my ego its sins, to care for my persecutors, and to show my "enemies" compassion."
06 Blue/Healing ... "Dear God, Allow me to actualize your perfect Trinity by harmonizing all my deeds with my own Divine Inclinations."
07 Indigo/Humility ... "Dear God, I humble my ego to your Divine, all-loving Will -- I live to serve your sense Highest Good, not my own."
08 Violet/Wonder ... "Dear God, I revel in the miracle of Grace; the gift of a consciousness that is free, moral and power-full."
09 White/Community ... "Dear God, Though I cannot be certain of my Path, I faith-fully follow your guidance where It leads me."
Now, with "S9" completed, my awareness is steeped in True Self, and I am truly Ready to depart from home and into my day!
Part II: Entering the Day (i.e. "setting out")
Regardless of whether or not you choose to "center your day" using the previously described rituals, your True Self can also be "activated" by briefly reminding your ego-mind of that particular day's "theme", or founding Virtue. Indeed, any departure from one place to another is a great time to affirmatively re-mind yourself of that day's Higher Purpose. With that in mind, the nine different daily themes that I focus upon (one per day) are described as follows --
01 Black/Solitude ... Generally a day for inner Peace & the pure solitude of Oneness ...
A day to Intimately commune with others; seeing everything & everyone as a messenger of the Universal Will ...
02 Red/Patience ... Generally a day for flowing interconnection to The All & serving whatever IS ...
A day to Actualize beauty; regularly cleansing our immediate surroundings as Sacred Space ...
03 Orange/Creativity ... Generally a day for vocational activation (a.k.a "Walking the Talk") via cleansing conflicts encountered or witnessed ...
A day to Manifest God; acting in Harmony with the inclinations my True Self - as a Peacemaker ...
04 Yellow/Growth ... Generally a day for Self-affirmation (a.k.a "self-actualization") via courageous actions (e.g. unconventionality) ...
A day to Co-Create Joy; seeing life positively while letting actions beacon that meaning-full Joy to others ...
05 Green/Kindness ... Generally a day for a pure acceptance of all that IS -- including the active appreciation of others' Souls ...
A day to Anonymously Give; "walking The Way" via the effectuation of anonymous, self-sacrificial service ...
06 Blue/Healing ... Generally a day for both a re-baptism of self (a.k.a. "repentance") as well as the forgiveness of others ...
A day to Relay The Way; being overtly kind to the "poor", the "young", the "ill", the "injured", the "insane", the "evil", the "strange", the "non-sentient" (i.e. animals and plants) &/or even the "inanimate" ...
07 Indigo/Humility ... Generally a day for prayer -- the humble reverence for the ever-present flow of the Highest Good ...
A day to Inspire humility; engaging in "humilifiers" (acts designed to bring one's own ego "down a notch"), listening attentively to others, and consciously challenging one's own beliefs and convictions ...
08 Violet/Wonder ... Generally a day for perceiving the constant miracle that is Life -- seeing the re-manifestation of God in everything "normal"...
A day to Nurture "enemies"; cherishing all doubters and being thankful for all persecutions ...
09 White/Community ... Generally a day for compassionate community service & Joy-full celebration ...
A day to Guide others into selfless service; relaying Truth to them via cryptic response more than clear speech (letting others self-discover), via empathic listening more than cryptic repsonse (honoring others to "teach" them honor), and via action more than empathic listening (doing good anyway) ...
*Note: Merely because one day's main focus is emphasized does not preclude you from reveling in the other eight foci if either they are blatantly witnessed or opportunities to enliven them are obviously offerred that day ... Note as well, that the first letters of each theme (immediately following the words "A day to") combine to spell "I AM CARING", which is the foundation of any moment in Life that brings deeper Contentment ...
Part III: During the Day
Now that the True Self has "woken up" and the theme of the day has been re-clarified, the "meat" of my waking hours are upon me, and my mission is to actualize these insights in as many moments as possible until retiring into the evening. To aid in that end, I have adopted a set of 13 "Divine Vows" that guide my choices throughout each day. Unlike the encouragements of "false prophets" who stress the importance of making promises to God and then continually striving to fulfill them, my "Divine Vows" are actually not commandments, rules or promises at all. Indeed, all "Enlightened "Masters" seem to know that true Peace is only attained via a moment-to-moment actualization of humble faith, selfless intention and courageous action. To BE your True Self, then, it is necessary to act accordingly -- by voluntarily releasing your ego's self-centered desires while willingly replacing them with the selfless inclinations of your Soul. Thus, though the following "signposts" do serve to keep my beh aviors "on track", I am in every moment completely free to choose to either follow their guidance or not. And it is this freedom that makes my actions Power-full when I do decide to align my actions with these guidelines.
*Note that such guidelines must not be adhered to perfectly to bring Peace, and yet the more moments we do adhere to them, the more peaceful moments we will experience in our lives. And the more perfectly (i.e. completely, or selflessly) we effectuate them in those moments, the deeper that Peace will be. Thus, with a bit of brief explanation as accompaniment, my personal "Divine Vows" are as follows:
00 With radical Faith, I replace routined "droning" with a Comprehension of Life's Flow ... In this way, I Am truly Aware.
This guideline reminds me to actively alter as many of my routines and habits as possible every day (ideally all of them!) -- to remember that nothing is "normal" and that no one is "boring" (regardless of how familiar it/they may seem). In this way, I am much less likely to "zone out" and miss the opportunities (to either appreciate the majesty of my Life and/or selflessly serve others) with which I am constantly showered each day ...
01 With Grace-full Courage, I replace all legal duties with an Abatement from Society ... In this way, I Am truly Free.
This guideline reminds me that no action performed out of a sense of obligation (or otherwise forced or manipulated) can ever hope to powerfully reflect the True Self. Indeed, as such actions are always based in fear, they per se have nothing at all to do with unconditional Love -- a flow to selfless harmony that forms the very foundation of the entire Universe. As such, such choices are patently weak and ineffectual & peace in any form is dead to them. With this in mind, I choose to make every act I perform a cheerfully willing one, and as such, my acts are powerful indeed. Note that this Vow does not advocate anarchy or self-centered lawlessness. To the contrary, it encourages me to live "over and above" all that societal law requires of me (e.g. the law prohibits me from killing my "enemy", while this Divine Vow encourages me to actively Love him/her; the law requires me to drive the speed limit, while this Divine Vow encourages me to drive even slower/smoother than that, etc.) ...
02 Appreciating my innate Abundance, I replace my possessions with Material Minimalism ... In this way, I Am truly Wealthy.
In essence, this Vow reminds me that my possessions can only bring Peace to myself when they are selflessly utilized for the benefit of others. Any material entity used to satisfy self-centered motives inevitably brings discord and suffering, and any material entity that goes unused acts as an energetic hinderance to our Journey towards the actualization of True Self. Thus, all that I possess I use for the benefit of others when I use it, and all that I "own" that is not being regularly used I give away. It is this approach to ownership that makes one truly Wealthy -- granting the deeper, lasting Abundance of inner Peace and meaning-full Living ...
03 Maintaining Discipline, I replace my physical temptations with Bodily Fitness ... In this way, I Am truly in Harmony.
This guideline reminds me to focus my intentions in ways that build up my personal power -- either via actions that are directly intended to assist others or those that are intended to strengthen my own mind-body (that I might subsequently serve those others more powerfully). Thus, when I am tempted to fantasize about pretty women, this vow encourages me to do push ups or go for a jog (or better yet, Care for them!). Note that there is nothing per se "wrong" with sexual fantasy or sex, and yet every moment I choose to spend my energy in primarily self-gratifying activities is another moment "wasted" that I could have served another selflessly -- and thereby aided the re-harmonization of the Universe. We each have only a finite amount of moments in our current mind-bodies. I simply prefer to use my personal power to aid others, rather than chase the tenuous, hollow and more primal "pleasures of the flesh" ...
04 With selfless Intention, I replace conditional employment with Altruistic Service ... In this way, I Am truly Generous.
This vow reminds me that, while also not per se "wrong", earning money (or receiving any conditional reward) in return for any act of service neutralizes the potency of that act. While this vow does not mandate that I live without money, it does remind me that I am to perform as many acts each day as selflessly as possible (i.e. without reward or reciprocation) in order to have those actions be as powerful as possible ...
05 Sustained by light, I replace damaging foods with Nourishing Sustenance ... In this way, I Am truly Power-full.
This guidline reminds me that everything I put into my mind-body "machine" either makes my ability to serve others more or less powerful. "Unhealthy foods" (i.e. anything imbibed that damages the overall ability of the mind-body to perform at its peak capacity), rob our minds of focus and rob our bodies of energy. As I want to be of the utmost service to my brothers and sisters (indeed, to the Universe as a whole), I choose to eat and drink primarily those substances that provide my body with fuel to act with power and my mind with fuel to focus selflessly on the wonders around me. Thus, when tempted to eat processed sugar ("yummy!"), I replace those treats with honey-based ones (often even more yummy!). When tempted to drink coffee, I choose to drink green tea. When tempted to eat meat, I choose tofu or tempeh. When tempted to eat vegetables or fruits from cans, I choose to procure them fresh and organic. As you can imagine, this list goes on quite a ways, yet it is only important to remember that every "healthy" choice you make enables an additional level of potency to your actions, which inevitably brings you yourself that much more Peace and Joy (though that personal Contentment should not be your imbibing's primary purpose) ...
06 With Power-full Love, I replace the harming of Life with Anonymous Kindness ... In this way, I Am truly Gentle.
This Vow reminds me to cherish all things living, and to harm as few of my brothers and sisters (including those of the animal and plant kingdoms) as little as possible. Instead of injuring others who are acting aggressively, I choose to avoid them (or extend them "radical kindness"). Instead of ignoring the "homefree" person on the street (or callously dropping a few coins into his/her cup), I choose to sit down and listen to his/her tale. Instead of supporting zoos, I choose to encourage others to set their pets free (or give them lots of room to roam). Instead of walking past a worm on the sidewalk or driving around a turtle crossing the road, I choose to stop and move them into the grass. Instead of squashing flies, ants or mosquitos, I choose to blow them away (a simple and remarkably effective method of "pest control"!). Instead of thinning a forest of "weed trees" that I find personally "undesirable", I remove only its dead trees and prune its live ones. In essence, when there is an choice between harming another entity or being kind to it, I choose the latter ...
07 Actively Serving my Community, I replace isolation with Selfless Intimacy ... In this way, I Am truly Courageous.
This guideline reminds me to go "out of my way" (which, ironically, IS my Way) to make eye contact and cheerfully greet those I encounter -- especially my "enemies" and other "strangers." We are here to courageously re-connect with one another and thereby remind each other of our inherent Oneness -- of our innate Divine Nature as conscious beings. This task can only be fulfilled when we have the courage to include even our lives' "competitors" and "villains" in our circle of intimate community ...
08 With Here-Immersion, I replace superficial literature with Nature's Teachings ... In this way, I Am truly Connected.
This Vow reminds me to avoid investing my awareness in all things superificial -- and by "superficial" I mean anything that encourages my self-centered ego to sever its ties with its surroundings (e.g. most fiction novels, most works of "history", most movies, most internet sites, etc.). Unless these sources of information are used to enable a service of another or an appreciation of Life that is current (or immediately subsequent), they inherently dampen my ability to honor my own Life. Rest assured, ignorance is not Bliss! As such, I choose to replace them all as often as possible with either an appreciative immersion into Nature or literaray sources that support the message of unconditional Love ...
09 With Now-Immersion, I replace my destinations with Pilgrimage into The Moment ... In this way, I Am truly Peaceful.
This guidline reminds me that all plans and goals tend to encourage me to focus on either a past that never was as I remember it, or on a future that never will come to pass as I expect. While sometimes useful in organizing an imminent act of selflessness, all other such "daydreamings" completely castrate my ability to recognize opportunities to revel (often via selfless service for others) in my Here&Now ...
10 By openly Seeking, I replace mass-media & "facts" with Meaning-full Learning ... In this way, I Am truly Wise.
This Vow reminds me to avoid all sources of "truth" that entrench a dogmatic belief in a proscribed interpretation of "reality" (e.g. the nightly news, newspapers, radio commentary programs, political discussions, religious convictions, etc.). There is no "need to be informed" in this manner! All that needs to be "known" rests in my immediate surroundings and is able to be perceived directly by own senses. All else is not only superfluous, but patently inaccurate. Even "well-intended" sympathy starving children in the 3rd World (for example) only serves to entrench their pain (unless I happen to send them food immediately after watching such a report). This "indirect apathy" is actually as insidious as the "evil forces" that seem to directly cause such suffering. Thus, when I choose to "learn", I choose to do so using sources that are as humble as they are informative. And I choose to either immeidately utilize what I learn for Good, or turn off the TV and go out and actively be kind to someone ...
11 Cherishing all that Lives, I replace my "friends" & family with Indiscriminate Caring ... In this way, I Am truly Gentle.
This guideline reminds me to to treat all living beings as though they were my "best friends -- especially "strangers" and those who are treating me unkindly. Indeed, in our fear-steeped society, it is highly unusual to make prolonged, compassionate eye-contact with a stranger. As such, this simple act, especially when coupled with a simple smile, is a powerful act of Goodness indeed. It is equally unusual to witness sincere, kind forgiveness extended to those who need it the most -- namely, those who are attemtping to hurt us or manipulate us to their "advantage." And, as these actions are self-sacrificial as well as courageous, they are even more potent messengers of The Way of Peace to those who happen to witness them ...
12 With Heart-Felt Being, I replace vacuous communication with Focused Prayer ... In this way, I Am truly Faith-full.
This "final" Vow reminds me to pay regular homage to those greater forces that make my Life both possible and joyous (e.g. "God", the Universal Totality, and the cosmic consciousness that manifests itself in the interconnected conscience of ever conscious being) . With this in mind, I choose to remember that my thoughts and words are not to be mindless babblings (e.g. daydreaming or small talk) or negative weapons (e.g. critical analysis or gossip), but rather are to be used as powerful vehicles for consciously relaying my Love both for others as well as the Life that constantly nurtures Me ...
Part IV: In the Evening
Upon returning home from my day's endeavors, I find a quiet time and space to utter prayers of selfless intention to the Universe (and to my True Self). None of us has ever engaged a day perfectly (and none of us ever will). We are perfect Souls travelling through life in patently imperfect vessels. We are innately selfless and yet constantly tempted to be self-centered. We are deeply aware of the Truth of Oneness and yet allow ourselves to be easily misdirected into believing the illusion of separateness (e.g. religious conflict, war, arguments, political debates, win/lose transactions, etc.). As such, it is especially help-full to pause at the end of each day and remind ourSelves again of our true "Destination" as Human Beings ...
Based loosely on "The Trestleboard" that was an affirmation-mantra popular in the heyday of Los Angeles' "spiritual scene" (if interested, refer to the fundamental tenants found in the writings of Earnest Holmes, Emmit Fox, Genevieve Behrend, et al), I have provided below the text of "The Mossway Trestleboard" -- an affirmation (actually, more of a True Self re-Minder) that I utter in the evening after settling into my Sanctuary. It serves as a personal repentance for mistakes made during that day, a forgiveness of my ego-self for those mistakes, a forgiveness of others for the wounds they might have caused me, and a preparation to more smoothly live as an embodiment of my True Self the following day -- all in ONE! ...
The brain is a computer, and as such it can be "reprogrammed" -- both how it thinks as well as how it perceives. And if your thoughts and perceptions shift, so too shift your subsequent behaviors. And if your behaviors shift, so too shift your experiences of your Life and its Living. Attitdue truly does build and mold your character, that character truly does directly influence your moment-to-moment choices, and those choices truly do directly influence your "Destiny" (i.e. where you "end up" in Life, as well as what you end up leaving as your Life's legacy) ...
The following phrases, when persistently uttered once (or twice) per day over a period of days (with 29 consecutive days seeming to be a "magic number"), provide you with a powerful way to do just that ...
"I Recognize the Force of Highest Good, which constantly re-creates & co-sustains the Universe ...
I Feel my Synchronistic Interaction with the Universal Totality (a.k.a "God's Will"). (00)
I Believe in the Realization of perfect Splendor - my Oneness with Limitless Light ...
I have Faith in Love's all-encompassing Energy. (01)
Accepting Life's unfailing Truths, mine is the Peace-full Way of Living ...
I Flow with the Present Moment in Pro-Active Patience. (02)
Feeling God's Will, I am Guided in each & every Moment along the Path of Liberation ...
The Celestial Grace given to Me is Re-cognized & Respected. (03)
I perceive the manifestation of undeviating Justice in all the circumstances of my Life ...
I Choose to Know that all that IS, is Right and Good. (04)
I am a Thank-full Center of Actualization for the Universe's Flow towards Harmony ...
I Am Grateful for the chance to Live my Life with Awareness. (05)
In every Moment of Caring, I consciously Build upon a Foundation of Eternal Being ...
I Co-Create a re-Manifestation of perfect Love. (06)
All the Power that ever was and all the Power that ever will Be is Here Now ...
I Perceive the Omni-planed Reality of Sacredness in this (and every) Space. (07)
In all things, the "normal" and the "extraordinary", I See the Beauty of the Divine Expression ...
I Choose the Wondrous View in this (and every) Moment. (08)
God's Will takes form via my Right Actions; the manifested inclinations of my True Self ...
I Choose to live selflessly -- Serving others either via enhancing Joy &/or relieving burdens. (09)
From the exhaustless riches of the Cosmos, I possess All that IS - the Spiritual & the material ...
My innate Abundance is Appreciated & thereby Actualized. (10)
The Kingdom of God is embodied in my flesh and enLivened through my Choices ...
Peace is Re-Born Within and around Me. (11)
I Choose to re-member that I all-Ready Am what I will inevitably BE - a gentle Child of God ...
I Am as I AM, in each moment reborn in accordance with my previous moment's choices!" (12)
*** Mossway Trestleboard commentaries***
00 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that "synchronicity" is as real as gravity. We are allWays intimately interconnected with both everything that surrounds us and every occurence that comprises our lives. It is not our "job" to improve or repair or correct these attributes of Reality, but rather to simply re-align ourselves with them in ways that serve to further the Peace of those things and the Harmony in those occurences ...
01 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that we are all composed of varying frequencies of the same Light, and that this Light is essentially the same frequency that many call "Love." With this in mind, we can choose to exhibit a deeper Faith -- not a "faith" that everything will work out the way we think it should, but rather a deeper Faith; both that the Cosmos is constantly attaining a higher state of equilibrium (as that is its primary aim) and that our selfless decisions (even if they might be "dangerous" or "impractical") are helping the Universe to attain this end ...
02 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that there is always a powerful opportunity of service in every moment that can be rendered by each of us. There is no need to wait for a "better time" or a "more powerful task." There is good to be done in every situation, and that Goodness will not come to fruition unless we choose to humbly see it and then act courageously upon it. It might be a smile to a stranger. It might be listening to a child. It might even be forgiving an "enemy." Regardless, there is Good to be Done, and our Mission as humans is to find those opportunities and to bravely engage them ...
03 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that Grace is real. Every conscious being in the Universe is given not only the free will to choose his/her destiny's manifestation, but also a constant moral barometer (the conscience) that guides them towards actions that are selfless and away from those which are not. Adhering to this guidance inevitably leads to a Life of humble appreciation and Peace. Ignoring this guidance in favor of avenues that are "beneficial" "practical", or "more reasonable" inevitably leads to pain and discord ...
04 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that everything in our lives -- especially "crisis" -- has been called to us by our True Selves to re-mind us of a new way of Being. If we choose to complain about these difficulties and/or strive to forcibly eliminate them, we inevitably send similar but different challenges to ourselves to repeat the learning process. If, on the other hand, we choose to be grateful for our "tragedies" and then use them as tools with which to empower selfless good for others, our suffering will immediately cease and that particular lesson will not have to be repeated ...
05 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that the "first step" on The Path of ego-Liberation is humble gratitude. This thankfulness has nothing to do with the traditional "blessings" we are each given at some point(s) in our lives (e.g. comfort, material wealth, physical pleasure, etc.). Rather, the pure ratitude referenced by this phrase is a conscious thankfulness first and foremost for life in general -- knowing that a conscious existence is more than reason enough to be immensely thankful each morning, and that everything else that comes to us is merely a superfluous enhancement of tis base-Abundance ...
06 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that our primary Purpose as conscious entities is to enable the Universe to re-align itslef towards a state of perfect Harmony (even though this state cannot ever be completely attained), and that selfless acts of Caring for others are the most powerful ways we can fulfill this Purpose. It is also a Truth that every intention, every thought, and ever action eminates a particular frequency into The All for all eternity. As such, we are reminded that every such intention, every such thought and every such action is truly Important to the Universal Totality. Thereby, we rememeber to emit harmonious frequencies with our loving intentions, our positive thoughts and our selfless actions ...
07 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that there is no need to "grow as a person", further our personal "the process of enlightement", or become "more powerful servants." All these are myths propogated by the ego-mind in order to entrench a feeling of self-worth that is "less than", which in turn allows us to more readly fall prey to sefl-centered temtpations that are "only human." Instead, the Truth remains constant that we are all immensely Power-full Beings, that we have been so since our conception, and that we can be so again -- right Here, right Now (and as often again as we wish, in every moment when we choose to care for others in times of our own distress) ...
08 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that there is no thing that is "ugly", no occurence that is "normal", and no person that is "familiar." Boredom is nothing more than our minds succumbing to the ego-force that wishes us to feel more comfortable and/or safe amongst experiences it has lived through before. This mentality ensures a heart that is hardened to the incredible wonders residing within every facet of every moment of our lives. We are thus reminded to frequently pause and "see life anew" -- indeed, to see it purely as a child would see it; to see it again (and again and again) for the very first time ...
09 ... This verse is the easiest to "understand" and, thanks to the insidiousness of the ego which encourages us to avoid its actualization, the most difficult to Comprehend ...
10 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that material wealth can only be manifested in a Peace-full way (with Peace-full consequences) when our intentions behind such co-creations are selfless. We must manifest material wealth in our lives for the Highest Good of all; not solely for ourselves or those we personally favor. Without this sense of selflessness, we will manifest from a place of desire, and the greater Flow of the Universe will be forced to inevitably remove all that we "successfully" manifest from our possession. And to do so, it is also necessary to radiate an immense gratitude for all we allReady possess and all with which we have allReady been blessed. Without this sense of gratitude, we will manifest from a place of lack -- and thereby ultimately receive the same ...
11 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that "Heaven" (or "Nirvana" or "Paradise") is a Here&Now space-time. Indeed, it does not get any "better" than a conscious Life filled with difficulties to transcend and sufferers to selflessly assist despite those difficulties. It is this ultimate act of Giving that enables us to simultaneously experience "Heaven's" perfect Bliss and Contentment ...
12 ... This verse re-awakens our inner Knowing of the Truth that "karma" has very little to due with our previous and future "incarnations" (if there truly is such a thing), but rather is current-lifetime phenomenon. Physically and emotionally, we reap commensurately to what we sow, though it might take a bit of time for our choices' frequencies to "bounce back" to us. On a Soul-level, our conscience immediately experiences Peace that is directly proportionate to the Joy we bring others or pain that is perfectly commensurate with the harm(s) we cause them. Though not evident to our relatively "slow" and primitve minds, this remains a Truth regardless, and serves as the main "engne" behind the Universal Guidance that leads us all without fail to a re-Realization of Oneness ...
Part V: Upon retiring to sleep
Finally, as I retire to bed, I smile and simmer again; thinking about my day and what a blessing it was to be alive. I ponder my Joys and am thankful for the solace they brought me. I ponder my pains and am thankful for their guidance. Here, in this place of calm, I have the perfect time to gratefully remember my Oneness with God -- to consciously intend to rectify my "mistakes" (those moments when I "lived" primarily for my own benefit) when given future opportunities to do so, and to consciously intend to repeat my "triumphs" (those moments when I transcended selfish inclinations to serve another selflessly) when those opportunities resurface as well. I ponder my "successes" and am thankful for my strength. I ponder my "failures" and am thankful for the chance to act selflessly "next time" ...
And then, as I am drifting off into rejuvenative sleep, I pause and utter the following three prayers in succession. Their order is not important, and neither is it critical to utter all of them (or even utter them aloud). They are all individually potent, and have been for many thousands of humans for many thousands of years. Some of the words are Sanskrit and some are Hebrew ...
Note that these paryers have been "quasi-phonetically" spelled (meaning that you can utter them just as you read would read them) -- with the only exception being the "ch" in the first and second prayers, which sounds like the "velar fricative" common in most Germanic and Arabic tongues ...
Sannyasin ... Banat -- Banat -- Y'chud ban Jai!
"[I Am a] Pilgrim; Free from worldly concerns ...
Persevering, Persevering -- one day comprehending my Oneness with the Universe/God!"
Sh'ma, Israel ... Adonai Elohaynu -- Adonai Echad!
"Humanity Awaken! The Lord is our God ... We and She/He are ONE!"
Ohm Mani Padme Hum ...
"The Oneness of the Universe [God] rests within the jeweled lotus of my Heart"
I have faith that these practices will either prove powerful for you directly, or will inspire you to co-create your own personal True Self re-minders. Either way, remember to cherish your rituals. If a practice ever feels rushed or unfocused, it is better to pause and re-Center your concentration before performing it. Otherwise, you expose your True Self to the risk of becoming "swallowed up" by the very "everyday drone" that such rituals are designed to release ...
While the easiest and most effective times of day to treasure your grounding rituals are sunrise and sunset (as these times bridge the "great periphery" that separates night from day; a liminality that fully comprises the present moment that is necessary to access in order to appreciate Life and its Living), any time is a good time to engage them. It is not important what is said so much as why you are saying it (selflessness!). And it is not so important when you practice your rituals, as it is to practice the diligently over a longer period of days (persevere -- preferably for at least 29 consecutive days) ...
"Ideas and opinions are cultivated things, and Treasures are not found in cultivated places. Wherever and whatever It Is, your true Treasure lies buried in the Humility of bewilderment."
"Every two beings are innately simple when truly Together; knotless and as pure as water."
"Everything loathsome becomes beautiful – It leads you to the One you Love."
"Be drunk with Love, for Love is all that exists."
"The lightning of Love cannot strike but once – When one Heart is struck, two are electrified."
"Every part seeks its Whole. The river rushes from the mountain to the sea. The Soul lifts from the body towards Love itself."
"Love is Love's only explanation."
"If Love is a boundless ocean, the Heavens are a fleck of foam."
"If your knowledge of the Fire comes from words alone, then you must walk into the Fire. There is no Knowing of its Truth until you burn."
"These arms that hold you merely hold the One you Love."
"When a bird soars above the earth, ... avoid mistaking the shadow for the bird itself."
"Those with Open Hearts always have Open Hands."
"Love, too, is a furnace, and the self Its fuel."
"If you feel pain when your eyes are open, Know that you have shut the Eye of your Heart – and Open It."
"Some can only understand by listening and looking at mouths. Let's stay out of their tent."
"Hands and feet Know what the Soul wants. Let's shut our mouth and Talk through the Soul."
"O people, embrace Love. Respond to Its Calling ... Because God gave immortality only to Love."
"Only from the Heart can you reach the sky."
"Hundreds of me's and you's will be annihilated by the Light of the Beauty who has freed himself from the self."
"If you are a Believer, He is Searching for You. If you are a disbeliever He is Calling You. Walk this Way and become Faith-full. Go elsewhere and become un-Faith-full. Both are the same to Him."
"See the Pearl inside this flimsy body."
"Language is embarrassed by 'pearl' and 'shore' -- because it cannot explain them."
"Every time you imagine something, you think you lift the curtain and Find the Truth. Your imagination is the curtain!"
"This world of Nothingness is the sign and the proof of God; even as it covers over the Beauty that is God."
"Even when I blink my eyes, I cannot take them away from God ... He is the mirror's Eye. My Soul and my body become Beauty-full with that Eye."
"If you see badness, you are the bad you see ... You have so many wishes and keep looking for gifts. Pull your Self together. You are the Real Gift."
"Go to the forest of lions. Do not worry about getting hurt."
"God's Compassion is raining observations and understanding."
"If the child doesn't go to school by himself, he is taken there by Force."
"Meaning is like wine; words like jars. Be silent. Don't tell tales of the sea to a bird scratching the ground."
"Either you broke the shell and reached Love, or you missed the trap and are lost in hunting. Today you are either wood for your fire, or the fire has been extinguished as you Became the Glory of God."
"Your feet are to take you to what You Desire. Your eyes are to lead you where You can See."
"It doesn't matter whether you are the Water of Life or black water. Once you close your eyes, you merge with the same Source."
"Be silent! With this Love and the knowledge Love brings from God's level, we are Saved from seminaries; from books and their repetitions."
"The True Self you See in Me is your reflection."
"Reason came because of the fear of the One who creates reason."
"Since your shape took its place in my Heart, wherever I stay turns into Heaven."
"If the face of the people were not the mirror of Your Face, I would run from them to the mountain."
"Every Moment God manifests and the mountain shatters."
"If you don't talk, your speech will be His. If you don't knit, He will weave You."
"If you want to have the Door open to You, keep walking toward the Door."
"Walk to Absence on the silent road. When you are annihilated, you will Become all-Praise."
"Your candle creates your Darkness. All the Searching you do is your boundary."
"The Essence of Existence is Absence."
"Helplessness is the only Help."
"If a man didn't have greed, everybody would be his uncle."
"Everything is a dream ... If the sleeper knows he is sleeping, he cannot suffer from nightmares ... If he ever wakes up, he will be engulfed in Treasures."
"God is the only Friend for the Soul on the Way to God."
"Every incomplete thing is pulled toward Completion ... See the unseen events clearly."
"It's a question of developing Spiritual senses ... See beyond phenomena."
"Some nights, stay up till dawn as the moon sometimes does for the sun. Be a full bucket pulled up the Dark Way of a well, then lifted out into the Light. Stars burn clear all night. Do that yourself, and a spring will rise ... in the dark, with water your deepest thirst is for."
"Gamble everything for Love if you are a true Human Being. If not, leave this gathering. Half-Heartedness doesn't reach into Majesty. You set out to Find God, but then you keep stopping for long periods at mean-spirited roadhouses. Don't wait any longer. Dive into the ocean and let the Sea Be You."
"All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from and what am I supposed to be Doing? I cannot stop asking. If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison for drunks. I didn't come Here of my own accord ... I can't leave that Way. Whoever brought me Here will have to take me Home."
"This being Human is a guest house; every morning a new arrival. A Joy, a depression, a meanness ... Some momentary Awareness come as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and attend them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture; still, treat each guest honorably. They may be cleaning you out to make space for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice ... Meet them at the door laughingly and invite them In. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been Sent as a Guide from Beyond."
"Avoid looking for new Ways to flee across the chessboard. Listen to Hear 'checkmate' spoken directly to You."
"Be Source, not result."
"We are the mirror as well as the face in it. We are tasting the taste, this Ruler of Eternity. We are pain and what causes pain. We are the sweet, cold water and the jar that pours."
"Those who do not Feel this Love puling tem like a River ... Those who do not drink of dawn like a cup of spring water or take in a sunset like a succulent supper ... Those who do not want to change, Let them sleep."
"I have lived on the lip of insanity; wanting to Know reasons ... Knocking on a door – it opens. I have been knocking from the inside!"
"You've heard it said that there's a window that opens from one Mind to another. But if there is no wall, there is no need for fitting a window."
"An eye is meant to See things. The Soul is Here for Its own Joy. A head has one use: Loving a True Love ... You that come to Birth and bring the Mysteries. Your Voice-thunder makes us very Happy. Roar, Lion of the Heart, and tear me Open."
"Bend like the limb on a peach tree .. Tend those who need Assistance. Disappear three days with the moon ... You are the Soul and the medicine for what wounds the Soul."
"It's amazing, and funny, that you have to be pulled away from being tortured; pulled out into this Spring Garden, but that's the Way it Is. Almost everyone must be bound and dragged Here. Only a few come on their own."
"Late, by myself, in the boat of myself ... No Light and no land anywhere. Cloud cover thick ... I try to stay just above the surface. Yet I am already under, and Living within the ocean."
"The Lover falls into a hole. But down in that hole he Finds something shining; worth more than any amount of money r power. Last night the moon came dropping her clothes on the street. I took it as a sign to start singing; falling Up into the Bowl of the Sky. The bowl breaks ... Everywhere is falling everywhere."
Hearing the Guidance of your Advocate Within
The desire to decipher God's Will seems to dominate the thoughts of a growing number of "awakening believers" - those Christians who are no longer satisfied with merely soaking in life's "simple pleasures" and/or obtaining mere "spiritual comfort." Though they have professed Jesus as their personal Savior and believe in the righteousness of their faith, they still find themselves suffering from sadness, boredom, worry and frustration. In addition, they continue to slip regularly into non-Christian behaviors: championing violence, gossiping about their neighbors, condemning non-Christians for "false beliefs", and/or accumulating unnecessary material wealth. Despite their mental "righteousness", these individual's actions seem to show that they are still primarily concerned with their own physical well-being (living "in the flesh"), as opposed to focusing on enhancing the well-Being of others (i.e. living "in Christ").
"See what Love the Father has Given us, that we should be called Children of God, for that is what we are." ~ 1 John 3:1
Many yearn to live a more power-full "Christian" life and yet do not know how to do so. At the same time, they have never relinquished a fundamental hope - a belief that this life is more than a mere "proving ground" for the hereafter; that the Universe (a.k.a. God) has a "deeper purpose" for our existence; and that following God's Will is important Here & Now. In the depths of their Souls, they know that God has "plans" for us – unique gifts that we are each to actualize for the betterment of others. Our job, then, is to discover those gifts and bring them into fruition ...
"The Lord God Guides us; therefore we cannot be disgraced ... He who vindicates us is Within ..." ~ Isaiah 50:7
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed Me." ~ Isaiah 61:1
"Your Kingdom has come, your Will be Done on Earth as It is in Heaven."
~ Jesus (Matthew 6:10 -- see also Luke 17:20-21 in relation to "Heaven")
"He was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him."
~ Jesus in John 9:3
"You will know that I am in my Father, and you in Me, and I in You."
~ Jesus (John 14:20)
"But where sin increased, Grace abounded all the more ..." ~ Romans 5:20
"Likewise The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words."
~ Romans 8:26
"The Gifts of the Calling of God are irrevocable." ~ Romans 11:29
"If there is a physical body, there is also a Spiritual body."
~ 1 Corinthians 15:44
"And all of us, with unveiled faces, Seeing the Glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image - from one degree of Glory to another; for this comes from the Lord." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18
"For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands ... For in our tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling - and when we remove this tent, we will not be found naked." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:1-3
"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; See, everything has become new!" ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
"If we Live by the Spirit, let us also be Guided by the Spirit."
~ Galatians 5:25
"Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you." ~ James 4:8
And yet, little had been offered us by our religious leaders in the form of practical methods for aligning our lives with the Bible's professed "Way." We have not been given clear guideposts to be used to either make the "righteous choice" or know what God's Will was (and still is) for our lives. We have no methods for accessing the perfect Knowledge of our Advocate Within (what some know as the "conscience" - see John 14:16-26 & John 15:26). The church, supposedly the keeper of Christian Wisdom, has been teaching us doctrines and principles that cannot be reconciled with the Truth about Jesus' Way of absolute Love and Forgiveness, much less our own God-Given understanding of Justice and basic Fairness ...
"For the sake of your traditions, you make void the Commandments of God. You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: This people honors me with their lips, but their Hearts are far from me ..."
~ Jesus in Matthew 15:6-8
"Who are you, a human being, to argue with God? ... And indeed, [God] says: Those who are not my people I will call my people, and those who are not beloved I will call beloved ... They shall all be called Children of God."
~ Paul in Romans 9:20-26
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To all who are thirsty, I Give the Gift of water from the Spring of Life. Those who conquer will inherit these things ... Let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the Water of Life as a Gift." ~ God in Revelation 21:6 + 22:17
The church taught us that "non-believers" were damned to Hell for eternity and that God was a God of vengeance, and yet Jesus encouraged us to "Love your enemies ... Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful ... Do not condemn and you will not be condemned." (Luke 6:35-37). The church taught us that my Salvation came after I mentally professed a faith in Jesus as my "personal Savior", and yet Jesus himself encouraged us me that "No one is Good but God alone" (Mark 10:18) and that "If you wish to enter into Life, uphold the Commandments." (Matthew 19:17). The church taught us that some wars are "justified", and yet Jesus noted clearly that "Blessed are the Peacemakers." (Matthew 5:9). The church taught us that Divine Justice was a punishment-based "eye for an eye", and yet Jesus infoemed us that "The Father judges no one ..." (John 5:22) and "I desire Mercy, not sacrifice." (Matthew 12:7). The church quoted (and often still quotes) some of the more violent passages of the Old Testament , and yet the Book of Hebrews makes it quite clear that "In speaking of a New Covenant, [Jesus] has made the first one obsolete." ~ Hebrews 8:13 (see also 2 Corinthians 3:15-16) ...
Needless to say, this is all somewhat confusing to more than few Christians ...
And so, seeing as how the church seemed to be contradicting some of the more important sayings of Jesus Christ, I decided to extensively study the Bible myself. How happy I became when I read that the Bible itself teaches us that Christians are not to listen to, much less blindly follow, any teachings of men (including church dogma) that contradict Jesus' Way!
"Whoever disobeys even one of the least of these Commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever Does them and Teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom ..."
~ Jesus (Matthew 5:19)
"Beware false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will Know them by their Fruits ..."
~ Jesus (Matthew 7:15-16)
"Something greater than the temple is here ... For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." ~ Jesus (Matthew 12:7-8)
"Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let [your religious leaders] alone; they are blind guides for the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into the pit." ~ Jesus (Matthew 15:13-14)
"Do whatever they Teach you and Follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach." ~ Jesus (Matthew 23:2-3)
"But you are not to be called Rabbi, for you have one Teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have only one Father - the One in Heaven." ~ Jesus (Matthew 23:8-9)
"Woe to you [leaders of the church], for you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplace. Woe to you, for you are like unmarked graves, with others walking over them without realizing it."
~ Jesus (Luke 11:43-44)
"And God, who Knows the human Heart, testified to them by Giving them the Holy Spirit ... and in cleansing their Hearts by Faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Why, then, are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of others a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?"
~ Acts 15:8-10
"The God who made the world and everything in it ... does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything ..." ~ Acts 17:24-25
"As God is for us, who is against us? ... It is God who sets us Free. Who then is to condemn?" ~ Romans 8:31-33
"So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours ..."
~ 1 Corinthians 3:21-23
"Even Satan disguises himself as an Angel of Light. So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of Righteousness. Their ends will match their Deeds." ~ 2 Corinthians 11:14-15
"But the Word of God is not chained." ~ 2 Timothy 2:9
"For the time is coming when they will not put up with Sound Doctrine, but ... will accumulate teachers for themselves who suit their own desires. They will turn away from The Truth and wander away into myths ..." ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4
"Everyone who does not abide in the Teaching of Christ, but goes beyond It, does not have God ... Whoever abides in the Teaching has both the Father and the Son." ~ 2 John 1:9
And as I continued to re-read the New Testament, hoping to find the answers that my family, my friends, the church and my community had all failed to provide, a "bigger picture" of a "Bigger God" began to take shape. The more I read the Scriptures, the more clearly this all-Loving Force became - a God that does not want us to be subservient at all, but rather desires for us to go boldly forth and Walk the Way using our own unique methods.
"And whoever does not take up the cross and Follow Me is not worthy of Me." ~ Jesus (Matthew 10:38 - see also Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23)
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in Heart, and you will find rest for your Souls." ~ Jesus (Matthew 11:29)
"But as for what was sown on good soil, these are the ones who hear the Word and understand It, who indeed bear fruit ..."
~ Jesus (Matthew 13:23 - see also Mark 4:20 & Luke 8:15)
"Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven." ~ Jesus (Matthew 18:18)
"And because of the increase in lawlessness, the Love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be Saved." ~ Jesus (Matthew 24:12-13)
"The measure you Give will be the measure you Receive, and still more will be Given you." ~ Jesus (Mark 4:24)
"A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you Give will be the measure you get back."
~ Jesus (Luke 6:38)
"I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words and Acts on them." ~ Jesus (Luke 6:47)
"Bless rather are those who Hear the Word of God and adhere to It."
~ Jesus (Luke 11:28)
"My food is to Do the Will of Him who sent Me and to complete His Work."
~ Jesus (John 4:34)
"If you continue in [i.e. actualize] my Word, you are truly my disciples; [only then] will you Know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you Free."
~ Jesus (John 8:31-32)
"We must Do the Works of Him who sent me while it is day, for the night is coming when we cannot Work." ~ Jesus (John 9:4)
"For this reason the Father Loves me, because I lay down my Life in order to take It up again." ~ Jesus (John 10:17-18)
"The Works that I Do in my Father's name testify to Me ..."
~ Jesus (John 10:25)
"If you Understand these things, Blessed are you when you Do them ... The one who Believes in me will also Do the Works that I Do ..."
~ Jesus (John 13:17+14:12)
"Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your Spiritual worship." ~ Romans 12:1
"Be Doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves ..."
~ James 1:22
"It is God's Will that by Doing Right you shall silence the ignorance of the foolish." ~ 1 Peter 2:15
"Make every effort to support your Faith with Goodness, and ... Self-Discipline, and ... Endurance, and ... mutual affection, and ... Love. For if these things are yours, they will keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ ... Be all the more eager to confirm your Calling, for if you Do this, you will never stumble. In this way entry into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord will be richly provided for you." ~ 2 Peter 1:5-11
"Whoever says 'I abide in him' must Walk as he Walked." ~ 1 John 2:6
"You may be sure that everyone who Does Right has been Born of Him."
~ 1 John 2:29
Appropriately, this article is founded on my years of radically practicing "The Way" - a method of living clearly described by Jesus in the Gospels of the Bible. So often, we read or hear a Truth and make excuses for it. We read that we should "Love our enemies", and yet assume that means "everyone but terrorists." We hear that we should not worry and let "today's troubles be enough for today", and yet rationalize that it's still OK to plan for the future, fill our savings accounts and/or sign legal contracts with others; hoping to guarantee a "security" that God apparently cannot. I, too, used to read the Bible in this manner. I, too, read the words of Jesus and rationalized that they could not be literally applied to my life. Of course, applying his Divine Truths half-heartedly only reaped me half-hearted benefits. I still struggled with feelings of sadness, frustration and Meaninglessness whe I did so. It did not comfort me if I was going to Heaven after I died – as that hope seeme d selfish. Deep within, I Knew that there was so much more to this Life and its Living ...
So one day, after reading the New Testament dozens of times (see Hebrews 7:18-19, 7:22, 8:6-7, 8:13, and 10:9), I decided to completely give up my old way of "living" and purely Follow Jesus' advice therein - every verse of it. I identified all of Jesus' admonitions related to The Way and what walking that Way in Its purest sense entails (see Matthew 4:4, 4:7, 4:10, 5:3-11, 5:16, 5:19, 5:39, 5:42, 5:44, 5:48, 6:3, 6:9-13, 6:14, 6:19-20, 6:25, 6:34, 7:1-2, 7:12, 8:20, 10:7-9, 10:12, 12:49-50, 18:4, 18:21-22, 19:21, 19:29, 22:30, 22:36-40, 23:12, 26:39 and Mark 1:13, 1:22, 1:35, 10:15, 10:21, 10:29, 11:25, 12:29-31, 12:43-44, 13:10, 14:36 and Luke 6:27-31, 6:37, 8:1, 9:5, 11:41, 12:11-12, 12:15, 12:22, 12:33, 14:8-10, 14:33, 17:20-21, 18:17, 18:29-30, 21:4, 22:42, 23:34 and John 3:3-8, 7:24, 8:15, 8:50, 10:25, 10:37-38, 12:47, 13:1, 13:34, 14:15, 14:23, 15:4, 15:12, 20:23). To do so, I simply assumed that he had meant exactly what was written, and then I acted accordingly ...
On paper, living this way was "dangerous", "irresponsible" - even "rebellious." And it took no small measure of courage to actually take that leap of Faith. And yet I made that leap and have been living The Way ever since. And, throughout these recent years, I have never been Happier; never been more Content; and never been more Power-fully Effective in my Life ...
It was (and still is) a Beauty-full Way of Living, filled with Peace and Love and an intimate relationship with God. Along with this deep-seated sense of inner peace, my life "in Christ" has allowed me to re-discover some amazing truths about the Word that are not available to the average church-going Christian. The most important one of these truths is that God is actively Communicating with us all in every moment of your lives. Just as important – I realized that we can all hear what God has to say; We can clearly Know His Will. And, most importantly of all, you do not need to "walk radically" in order to follow that Will's guidance ...
So, for both those Christians who are already certain of their post-mortem Salvation, as well as those who feel a bit "lost" and yet have not abandoned hope, this article offers an awakening to a "fresh Faith" - a Way of Living literally "in Christ." The grace of God's Will is His greatest gift, and this epistle shines a clear light upon that grace - a beacon that all Christians can use to illuminate their respective Ways to God; a practical Way to Truth-filled Christian living, and a "hearing aid" which all Christians can use to know God's Will for their lives ...
"Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered, and nothing is secret that will not become known." ~ Jesus (Matthew 10:26)
"From his fullness we have all Received, Grace upon Grace." ~ John 1:16
"Anyone who resolves to Do the Will of God will Know whether the Teaching is from God ... Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who Seeks the Glory of Him who sent me is True." ~ Jesus (John 7:17-18)
"The Word is near you; on your lips and in your Heart ... Be transformed in the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the Will of God."
~ Romans 10:8+12:2
"For we are God's servants ... You are God's field; God's building ... Each builder must Choose with care how to build on [the foundation of God's Grace] ... Do you not Know that you are God's Temple, and that God's Spirit dwells within you?" ~ 1 Corinthians 3:9-10+16
"Let each of you lead the Life that the Lord has assigned, to which God Called you." ~ 1 Corinthians 7:17
"With the eyes of your Heart enlightened, you may come to Know the Hope to which God has Called you." ~ Ephesians 1:18
"Lead a Life worthy of the Calling to which you have been Called ... making every effort to maintain the Unity of the Spirit in the body of Peace."
~ Ephesians 4:1
"Do the Will of God. Render Service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to mere men and women." ~ Ephesians 6:6-7
"Therefore my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own Salvation with awe and reverence; for it is God at work in you, enabling you both to intend and to work for his Will." ~ Philippians 2:12-13
"Indeed, the Word of God is Living and active ... It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the Heart." ~ Hebrews 4:12
"You are Strong, and the Word of God abides within you." ~ 1 John 2:14
"And the Spirit is the one who testifies, for the Spirit is the Truth." ~ 1 John 5:6
Even though living exactly as Jesus lived is obviously a very power-full Way to knowing a sense of perfect contentment, it is not necessary to do so to experience the grace of which he speaks. Rather, the truths Jesus preached are general guidelines, designed to allow everyone to more effectively design their own paths to Salvation ("Not everyone can accept this Teaching, but only those to whom It is Given ... Let anyone accept It who can." ~ Jesus in Matthew 19:11-12 & "I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them ..." ~ Jesus in John 12:47). Indeed, to obtain the inner peace of the Kingdom of Heaven, it is only necessary for us to incorporate the truths underlying Jesus' Way into our current lives ("Everyone who Does what is Right is Righteous, just as God is Righteous." ~ 1 John 3:7 & "Love is from God; everyone who Loves is Born of God and Knows God." ~ 1 John 4:7) ...
To make this clearer, every sentence that follows is supported by verses of Scripture (well over 400 of them!), showing clearly that what I have experienced (and am now professing) is not merely "my idea", but rather a more representative way to both honor the Word of God and to worship the Way of Jesus Christ ...
Step One: Choosing to Hear God's Will for your Self
Considering the quagmire of conflicting opinions in the Christian community with regards to what The Way actually entails, what Jesus really meant ("Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing." ~ Matthew 13:34 & "The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech, but will show you plainly of the Father." ~ Jesus in John 16:25), and what it means to "be a good Christian", we are fortunate that the Bible clearly tells us that we must each decide for ourselves what the Will of God is for our lives ...
"Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you." ~ Jesus (Matthew 7:7)
"Every scribe trained for the Kingdom of Heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his Treasure what is new and what is old."
~ Jesus (Matthew 13:52)
"And why do you not judge for yourself what is Right?"
~ Jesus (Luke 12:57)
"These Jews were more receptive ... for they welcomed the message very eagerly and examined the Scriptures every day to See whether these things were true." ~ Acts 17:11
"The Faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God."
~ Romans 14:22
"I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say."
~ 1 Corinthians 10:15
"For why should our liberty be subject to another's conscience?"
~ 1 Corinthians 10:29
"Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup."
~ 1 Corinthians 11:28
"If we judge ourselves, we will not be judged." ~ 1 Corinthians 11:31
"Examine yourselves to see whether you are Living in the Faith. Test yourselves." ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5
"All must test their own Work ... For all must carry their own loads."
~ Galatians 6:4-5
"If any of you is lacking in Wisdom, ask God, who Gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and understanding will be Given to You." ~ James 1:5
"Do not believe every Spirit, but test their teachings to know if they are of God." ~ 1 John 4:1
General Guidance: Listening to your Advocate Within
First of all, it is quite clear, both from reading the Bible over and over again, as well as from putting its Truths into practice, that the Advocate of John 14 is real; an actual "Moral Compass" residing within each of us. Whether we label it our "conscience", the "Advocate" or the "Spirit of Truth" is irrelevant. This "larger voice" is within us all; constantly guiding us towards repentance from the past, righteousness in the moment and thereby Salvation in the here-and-hereafter. And it is not only our personal experience that confirms this Truth. The Bible itself repeatedly expresses this point as well ...
"And I will ask my Father, and he will Give you another Advocate to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of Truth ... you Know It, because It abides with you and It will be Within you ... This Advocate, the Holy Spirit, ... will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said ... When It comes to you, ... this Spirit of Truth, which comes from the Father, will testify on my behalf."
~ Jesus (John 14:16-17+26 & John 15:26)
"When [those] who do not possess the Law do instinctively what the Law requires, ... they show that what the Law requires is written on their Hearts ..."
~ Romans 2:14-15
"Become obedient from the Heart to the Teaching to which you were entrusted." ~ Romans 6:17
"For I delight in the Law of God in my inmost Self ..." ~ Romans 7:22
"These mysteries God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything - even the depths of God." ~ 1 Corinthians 2:10
"Those who are Spiritual discern all things, and they themselves are subject to no one else's scrutiny." ~ 1 Corinthians 2:15
"Now concerning Love for others, ... you yourselves have been taught by God to Love one another ..." ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:9
"The anointing that you received from Him abides in you [see John 14:16-26 above], and you do not need anyone to Teach you." ~ 1 John 2:27
Testing your Choices: Using your actions' "fruits" as Guideposts
So, it is clear that we do always Know what our Life-Mission is. Even if only on an intuitive level, we do Know which course of Action we can take to better satisfy God's Will. But how are we to determine what this internal voice is telling us? Fortunately, Jesus himself gave us the most accurate method for determining God's Will in our lives - looking at the consequences (i.e. the "fruits") of our actions. Those actions that bring us peace and enable Love to flourish (both for ourselves and, more importantlyfor those around us) are in Harmony with God's Will. And those that do not, are not ...
"Every Good Tree bears Good Fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A Good Tree cannot bear ad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear Good Fruit ... for the tree is known by its fruit." ~ Jesus (Matthew 7:17-18+12:33)
"The Good person out of the Good Treasure produces Good, and the evil person out of the evil treasure produces evil ... Wisdom is vindicated by all her children." ~ Jesus (Luke 6:45+7:35)
"If I am not Doing the Works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I Do them, even though you do not believe me, Believe the Works, so that you may Know and Understand that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father."
~ Jesus (John 10:37)
"If a plan or undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, no one can overthrow it ..." ~ Acts 5:38-39
Making Decisions: God's Will and the 9 "Fruits of the Spirit"
The Advocate within (a.k.a. the conscience) always encourages us to act in ways that are in alignment with guidance constantly provided by the Holy Spirit. Any choice that we make in our lives resonates either harmoniously or discordantly with this underlying awareness (a.k.a. "God's Will"). Of course, the afore-mentioned, more general ways of Knowing God's Will can be a bit difficult to apply. Fortunately, Jesus gives us the following, more specific standard through which we can Know if we are acting in harmony with the Will of the Father:
-- namely, whether or not our actions produce the "Fruits of the Spirit."
"The Kingdom of God is Given to those who produce the Fruits of the Spirit." ~ Jesus (Matthew 21:43)
And Paul blesses us further by specifically listing the nine aspects of this Holy Fruit ...
"The Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-discipline." ~ Galatians 5:22-23
Thus, for Christians who believe that the Bible directly reflects God's Word, every choice that is power-fully in alignment with God's Will must be Peace-full, Patient, Generous, Kind, Loving, Self-Disciplined, Gentle, Joyful and Faith-full. Indeed, every Right Action must embody these nine characteristics - allWays bringing us and those around us an intimate experience of bliss and contentment. These nine traits of "correctness" exemplify our true "Life Missions." In essence, they reflect God's Will for our lives ...
I took it upon myself over the last several years to radically apply these nine Truths to my own life. It came as no small surprise that, whenever I had the courage to do so, they allWays functioned for enhanced peace in my life; they allWays furthered Love in all of my relationships; they allWays emPowered my choices; they allWays strengthened my connection with God. And so I have dedicated the rest of my life to spreading this "Good News" to all who have both the "ears" (i.e. the Humility) to hear this message and the "legs" (i.e. the Courage) to apply its Loving Way ...
In order to produce the "Fruits of the Spirit" in your life, their deeper meanings must be comprehended. And in order to understand them, they must be experienced. And in order to experience them, they must be actively applied to everyday living. And in order to apply them appropriateky, they must be redefined ...
Thus, every one of these nine characteristics is expounded upon below and every one of their explanations is supported by numerous references to Scripture. Initially, the characteristic in question is stated simply and described. Then, in the section labeled "clarifications", some of the common misconceptions related to the characteristic are explained. Thirdly, in the section labeled "synopsis", the characteristic's qualities are concisely summarized. Fourthly, in the section labeled "determining factor", a key question(s) is isolated with regards to applying the characteristic in any decision-making process. Finally, each characteristic's explanation is substantiated by a collection of additional Biblical verses ...
So, without further ado, the Nine Characteristics of God's Will:
The 1st Characteristic: God's Will is Peace-full
God's Will is allWays Peace-full (column #1 in the example-charts below) and stems from the inner peace that is felt in our personal relationship with the Father. God's Will is not something "difficult" or "impossible" to follow. Rather, even if our ego-minds and political leaders would have us believe otherwise, doing the Will of the Holy Spirit is our natural State of Being. The "True Path" is always one of simplicity ("Take my yoke upon you and learn from me ... and you will find Rest for your Souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ~ Jesus in Matthew 11:29-30). Thus, more often than not, God's Will wishes for us to engage life on an intimate, personal level - and this often results in actions that we undertake alone in solitude and can fulfill without the assistance of others ("Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father in secret ..." ~ Jesus in Matthew 6:6) ...
Peace-full choices, by their nature, encourage us to be at Peace; with a calm mind and in calm surroundings ("It is to Peace that God has Called us." ~ 1 Corinthians 7:15). This inner Peace is grounded in the acceptance of what allReady IS ("We know that all things work together for Good for those who Love God; who are Called according to His Purpose." ~ Romans 8:28). Thus, Peace-full choices are those that attempt to do something with what allReady exists, as opposed to striving to change the status quo into "something better." Personal decisions work with what IS, as opposed to striving to create what "should be" ("And why do you worry? ... Consider the lilies of the field, how they Grow; they neither toil nor spin, and yet even Solomon is all his glory was not clothed like one of these ... Strive first for the Kingdom of God ... and all [your material concerns] will be provided as well." ~ Jesus in Matthew 6:28-29+33). This acceptance is strengthened when we choose to repent our own mi stakes and forgive others who have done us harm ("Bear Fruits worthy of repentance" ~ Luke 3:8 & "Forgive us our trespasses, as we Forgive those who trespass against us." ~ Jesus in Matthew 6:12) ...
Clarifications: Peace-full is not to be confused with "isolationist." Even though a particular action is more power-full when effectuated in solitude, this does not mean that you must emotionally isolate yourself while performing any action ("For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." ~ Jesus in Matthew 18:20). Socially interactive options are not "wrong." It is totally acceptable and often right to collaborate with, work amongst and/or engage the assistance of others. It is simply the case that the solitary option is the one you undertake without assistance from others, regardless of whether you are working among them or alone. It is the most power-full option; the one requiring the most faith and thus, the one most in harmony with God's Will for your life ("And Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted ... Then, filled with the Power of the Spirit, he returned to Galilee ..." ~ Luke 4:1-2+14 see also Matthew 7:21, 8:18, 8:20, 9:1, 10:14, 10:22, 12:15, 13:1, 14:13, 14:23, 15:21, 15:29, 16:21, 16:24, 17:1, 19:1-2, 19:29, 20:17-18, 24:3, 24:40, 26:36-39 and Luke 4:42, 5:3, 6:12, 9:23, 9:36, 9:58, 12:51, 13:24, 14:26, 16:15, 18:29-30, 19:28, 21:37, 22:42, 23:34) ...
That others do not follow your way does not make them "wrong" or even "sinners" - that is not for us to judge ("God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean." ~ Acts 10:28). Rather, our desire as Christians must be to help others to help their Selves along their paths back to God. Remember to be humble and gentle with everyone, for this is The Way ("The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome, but rather Kind to everyone; and apt Teacher, patient; Guiding [even] opponents with gentleness." ~ 2 Timothy 2:24-25) ...
Some will say that this definition seems "distant" or "passive" - that we cannot help others when acting individually. Yet we must re-member that it is not possible to ever "help" another to "get better" ("If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town." ~ Jesus in Matthew 10:14 & "When they heard this, they were filled with rage ... But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went on his Way." ~ Luke 4:28-30). We can only offer true assistance to others while being true to God's Will. We can only be truly compassionate with others when we are not determined to change them or judge their chosen Ways ("First say 'Peace to this house', and if anyone is there who shares in Peace, your Peace will rest upon that person, but if not, your Peace will return to you." ~ Jesus in Luke 10:5-6) ...
Additionally, even though Peace-full actions must be forgiving, their forgiveness in no way condones or encourages the "evil" that has been forgiven. Forgiveness brings us Peace by accepting whatever has happened and letting God do the judging thereof ("Beloved never avenge yourselves ... for it is written: Vengeance is mine saieth the Lord." ~ Romans 12:19 & "Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? God will judge those outside." ~ 1 Corinthians 5:12 & "He will repay according to each one's deeds ... For God shows no partiality." ~ Romans 2:6+11). Forgiveness brings us Peace by giving Love to those who need it the most ("Put away from you all bitterness and wrath, ... together with all malice. Be Kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God has Forgiven you." ~ Ephesians 4:31-32). Forgiveness does not keep us from being just or defending the weak. Rather, it allows us to do Good against the wrong that others perpetrate without condemning the wrongdoe r in the process. It allows us to be compassionate towards the pain that caused these "perpetrators" to behave poorly in the first place ("If you Forgive the sins of any, they are Forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." ~ Jesus in John 20:23) ...
Likewise, an action that is direct, and therefore "simple", is not necessarily "easy." Often, the greatest challenge and/or the most complicated alternative will provide the doer with the most Peace - as long as that task is actualized in a personal way ("No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13). The Bible is filled with admonitions for us to persevere through hardship, disappointment and disillusionment ("Be patient in suffering; persevere in payer." ~ Romans 12:12). So, Peace-full actions are not necessarily those bringing us the most pleasure. Rather, they are the choices most in harmony with God's Will (i.e. loving, selfless service), thereby bringing us the most Peace while performing them (not necessarily beforehand) ...
Finally, merely because an action Inspires inner Peace, it in no way makes that choice a "boring" one. In fact, there are many options in each moment that can be simultaneously "right" and exciting ("I have said these things to you that my Joy might be in you, and that your Joy might become complete ..." ~ Jesus in John 15:11). Joyful actions bring as much inner Peace as calm ones. It is not what we are doing that satisfies God's Will, but rather why we have chosen to engage a particular action that determines its importance and its "holiness" - indeed, its effectiveness as well ("Be Wise in what is Good and guileless in what is evil." ~ Romans 16:19) ...
Synopsis: Peace-full Actions are personal and bring a sense of inner calm while performed ... They are individually performed, soothing to the self and accepting of others.
Determining Factor: During decision-making, ask your Self -- "Does this particular option cause strife or does it inspire Peace? Does it require external assistance to be effective or can it be actualized directly by mySelf?"
"There was a great wind ... but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire the sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard [that silence], he went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Then there came a Voice to him ..." ~ 1 Kings 19:11-13
"I desire Mercy, not sacrifice." ~ God (Matthew 9:13)
"If a brother sins against me, how often should I forgive -- as many as seven times? Jesus said to him: [Forgive] not seven, but seventy times seven times."
~ Matthew 18:21-22
"[God] is Kind to both the ungrateful and the sinful. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be Forgiven ..."
~ Jesus (Luke 6:36-37)
"So he set off and went to his Father. Yet while he was still far off, his Father saw him and was filled with Compassion; [His Father then] ran out and put his arms around the son and kissed him [before the son had a chance to repent!]."
~ Jesus (Luke 15:20)
"Father, Forgive them, for they know not what they do."
~ Jesus (Luke 23:34)
"Peace I leave with you; my Peace I Give to you." ~ Jesus (John 14:27)
"I have said this all to you, so that, by Following my Way, you might find Peace." ~ Jesus (John 16:13)
"While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed ... Then he knelt down and cried out in aloud voice: Lord, do not hold this sin against them." ~ Acts 7:59-60
"For God is a God not of disorder but of Peace." ~ 1 Corinthians 14:33
"Live in Peace, and the God of Love and Peace will be with You."
~ 2 Corinthians 13:11
"And the Peace of God ... will guard your Hearts and Minds ..."
~ Philippians 4:7
"Comfort your Hearts and strengthen them in every Good Work and word."
~ 2 Thessalonians 2:17
"For judgment will be without Mercy to anyone who has shown no Mercy; Mercy triumphs over judgment." ~ James 2:12-13
"A Harvest of Righteousness is sown in Peace for those who make Peace."
~ James 3:18
The 2nd Characteristic: God's Will is Patient
God's Will is allWays Patient (column #2 in the example-charts below), making your actions conscious as opposed to reactionary ("Be Alert; I have already told you everything ... And what I say to you I say to everyone: Keep Awake." ~ Jesus in Mark 13:23+37). The Way encourages us to pro-actively participate in life by making choices and then consciously performing them. Our ego-based personality, on the other hand, tempts us to retreat and hide from bold, intimate decisions ("The ones on rock are those who ... have no root; believing only mentally and falling away [from the Word] in times of testing ... But as for those in the Good Soil, these are the ones who, when they Hear the Word, they hold it fast in an honest and Good Heart, and then bear Fruit with patient endurance." ~ Jesus in Luke 8:13+15). This "small self" encourages us to believe either that we have no choice at all or that we should wait to choose. Harmonious options, on the other hand, are active, not passive ("But those who look into the Perfect Law - the Law of Liberty - and persevere, being not mere hearers who forget but Doers who Act, they will be Blessed in their Doing." ~ James 1:25). Divine Patience is applicative, not analytical ...
Clarifications: While divine Patience is clearly active, it is not to be confused with choices that are "impulsive" or "rushed." It is not the traditional "patience" that encourages us to wait for a "better time" to act or prepare for a "more important alternative" in the future. True Patience, rather, encourages us to do in each moment what is allReady on hand to do ("Be Ready for every Good Work" ~ Titus 3:1). Of course, "doing what there is to do" does not mean reacting to what happens to us -- reacting is not choosing. Patient actions are not only thought and felt - they are consciously decided, in that they are thought-through before they are actualized ("Everyone then who hears these words and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his House on stone." ~ Jesus (Matthew 7:24)). The ego reacts with self-centered sinning while the Soul allWays pauses long enough to choose to do Good despite those lusts and fears ("Consider yourselves dead to sin and Alive to God." ~ Romans 6: 10-11) ... Finally, the activeness of divine Patience has nothing to do with being "productive" or "busy"; labels implying that our efforts must be validated as "acceptable" by others ("It is the same with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away." ~ James 1:11). In actuality, the opposite is true, as our actions are right (i.e. in Harmony with God's Will) or "wrong" (i.e. discordant with that Will) irrespective of their externally judged effects ("You are servants of whomever you serve; either of sin, which leads to death, or of Giving, which leads to Righteousness." ~ Romans 6:16 & "Whatever does not proceed from Faith is sin." ~ Romans 14:23). In fact, it is integral to our lives that we act lovingly -- especially when judged incorrectly by others ("When reviled, we Bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly." ~ 1 Corinthians 4:12-13) ...
Synopsis: Patient actions are pro-active (i.e. purpose-fully chosen) ...
They are consciously enacted, grounded in the present and Relaxed in their completion.
Determining Factor: During Decision-making, ask your Self -- "Is this particular option passive or does it encourage me to act? Is it being made consciously or is it reactive?"
"Do you not say 'Four months more, then comes the Harvest'? But I tell you, look around you and See how the fields are Now ripe for harvesting."
~ Jesus (John 4:35)
"It is not for you to know the times or the periods that the Father has set by His own Authority." ~ Acts 1:7 [i.e. Just Do It!]
"I do not shrink from Doing anything Help-full ..." ~ Acts 20:20
"Or do you despise the riches of His Kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God's Kindness is meant to lead you to return to His Way?"
~ Romans 2:4
"Now more than ever, make use of your present condition."
~ 1 Corinthians 7:21-22
"I stay ... because a door for effective Work has opened to Me ..."
~ 1 Corinthians 16:9
"If we are being afflicted, it is for ... consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for ... peace, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering." ~ 2 Corinthians 1:6
"Whenever we have an opportunity, let us Work for the Good of all."
~ Galatians 6:10
"Observe my Teaching, my conduct, my Purpose, my Faith, my patience, my Love, my steadfastness ..." ~ 2 Timothy 3:10
"Proclaim the Message; be persistent regardless of whether the time is favorable or unfavorable ... Encourage others with the utmost patience."
~ 2 Timothy 4:2
"Be temperate, ... prudent and sound in Faith, with Love and endurance."
~ Titus 2:2
"[Be] imitators of those who, through Faith and Patience, inherit the promises."
~ Hebrews 6:12
"You know that the testing of your Faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete ..."
~ James 1:3-4
"Be patient, therefore ... [as] the farmer who waits for the precious crop from the earth; tending it until it receives both the early and the late rains." ~ James 5:7
"You must also be patient. Strengthen your Hearts, for the Lord is at hand."
~ James 5:8
"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some think of slowness, but rather is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance ... Therefore, ... strive to be Found by Him at Peace ... and regard the patience of our Lord as Salvation." ~ 2 Peter 3:9+14-15
The 3rd Characteristic: God's Will is Generous
God's Will is allWays Generous (column #3 in the example-charts below). The "True Path" is selfless and serving of others. "Sin-full" action, on the other hand, is self-centered and serves one's self. Right Action gives while "wrong action" takes away. God's Will desires for us to create by furthering Love, rather than destroy by enhancing fear. Divine Generosity is the cheerful giving (1 below) of more than is expected (2 below), in ways other than desired (3 below), with no motivation for personal benefit (4 below), for those judged "least deserving" (5 below) ("When you have Done all that you should Do, say 'We are servants and have Done only what ought to have been Done'" ~ Jesus in Luke 17:10) ...
(1) "Each of you must Give as you have made up your mind to Give, not reluctantly or under any compulsion, for God loves a cheerful Giver." ~ 2 Corinthians 9:7
(2) "Woe to you ... for you tithe mint, dill and cumin, and yet have neglected the weightier matters of the Law: Justice and Mercy and Faith." ~ Jesus in Matthew 23:23
(3) "If you have bitter envy or selfish ambitions in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the Truth. Such wisdom does not come from Above, but is earthly and unspiritual ..." ~ James 3:14-15
(4) "One sows and another reaps." ~ Jesus in John 4:37
(5) "Love your enemies and Give expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be Children of the Most High ..." ~ Jesus (Luke 6:35-36)
Clarifications: Initially, "generosity" is not to be confused with "charity" or mere "tithing." True giving is intimate; something that the mere donation of money cannot engender ("So Give for alms those things that are within you; and see, everything will be made Clean for you." ~ Jesus in Luke 11:41). Refrain from merely "giving" of things and instead give of your time ("From everyone to who much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded." ~ Jesus in Luke 12:48), your service ("Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ." ~ Galatians 6:2) and your Self ("Each [person] has a particular Gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind." ~ 1 Corinthians 7:7 & "We have Gifts that differ according to the Grace given us [at birth]." ~ Romans 12:8) ...
The most power-full way to do anything meaning-fully is to do it anonymously and do it "for free" ("So whenever you Give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do .. so that they may be praised by others ... But when you Give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is Doing." ~ Jesus in Matthew 6:2-3). Simply stated, your Life-Purpose is found where your most power-full giving meets your environment's most intense needs ...
Likewise, divine Generosity does not always mean "help" or even "assistance." True giving must be done with the sincere belief that the receiving party's personal way will be enhanced by the giving act ("Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks. Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes." ~ Jesus in Matthew 18:7). Whether or not Peace actually ensues is irrelevant, and yet the intention of the giver must be pure in this regard. You can "help" another commit suicide, and yet this is clearly not a service to them ("When you come together, [Know that every person] has a hymn or a Lesson or a revelation or an interpretation. Let all things be Done for building up." ~ 1 Corinthians 14:26). Similarly, it is arrogant to "know" what is best for another – just as it is counterproductive to attempt to "rescue" them ("Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, for you are setting your mind not on Divine things but on human thin gs." ~ Jesus in Matthew 16:23). Instead, simply Choose to be generous towards others without expectation ("I do not condemn anyone who hears my word and yet does not keep them; for I came not to condemn the world, but to offer it Salvation." ~ Jesus in John 12:47)...
Finally, true giving need not be an action that is "large" or "powerful" or even "effective." When your intentions are selfless, the "smallest" of actions have the most power-full results ("This poor widow has put in more than all of them, for they have contributed from their abundance, while she out of her poverty has Given all she had." ~ Jesus in Luke 21:3-4). Living in a society that encourages us to fear one another and in bodies that are constantly worrying whether a stranger is "friend or foe", it is power-full Right Action to simply be generous of your Self ("There is no fear in Love, but rather prefect Love casts out fear ..." ~ 1 John 4:18). It is helpful to remember (and then re-member) that we are all brothers and sisters of one another; that all man-made nationalities, creeds and titles (including "enemy" and "friend") are not of God ("There is one body and one Spirit ... one God and one Father of all; Who is above all and through all and within all." ~ Ephesians 4:4-6) ...
Synopsis: Generous Actions are Kind to others ...
They are selflessly giving, intimate in completion & self-sacrificial in intention.
Determining Factor: During Decision-making, ask your Self -- "Is this particular option a self-centered or a selfless One? Am I engaging this Choice to obtain a benefit therefrom or rather to Serve another?"
"Store up Treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume and where thieves cannot break in to steal. For where your Treasure is, there your Heart will Be also." ~ Jesus (Matthew 6:20-21)
"If any of you put a stumbling block before [another], it would be better for you if ... you were drowned in the sea." ~ Jesus (Matthew 18:6)
"Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all."
~ Jesus (Mark 9:35)
"Whoever wishes to be great among you must be a Servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must become as a slave for all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to Serve, and to Give his entire Life as a ransom for many." ~ Jesus (Mark 10:43-45)
"Do not work for the food that perishes, but rather for the food that endures for eternal Life ..." ~ Jesus (John 6:27)
"Those who love their own life will lose that Life, and those who disregard their own Life in this world will have Life for Eternity." ~ Jesus (John 12:25)
"Do not give as the world gives." ~ Jesus, paraphrased in John 14:27
"It is more Blessed to Give than to Receive." ~ Jesus (quoted in Acts 20:35)
"Extend hospitality to strangers." ~ Romans 12:13
"Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy."~ Ephesians 4:28
"Whatever your task, put yourselves into it as if Doing it for the Lord and not your masters." ~ Colossians 3:23
"They are to Do Good, to be rich in Good Works; generous and ready to share ... so that they may take hold of the Life that really is Life." ~ 1 Timothy 6:18-19
"They profess to Know God, but they deny Him by their actions ... They are unfit for any Good Work." ~ Titus 1:16
"Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it and that then produces a crop useful to those for whom it was cultivated, Receives a Blessing from the Lord."
~ Hebrews 6:7
"Every generous Act of Giving, with every perfect Gift, is from Above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." ~ James 1:17
"Religion that is pure, and undefiled before God the Father, is this: to Care for orphans and widows ... and to keep oneself unstained by the world."
~ James 1:27
"Do not Love the world or the things of the world. The Love of the Father is not in those who Love the world; for all that is in the world - the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches - comes not from the Father but from the world." ~ 1 John 2:15-16
The 4th Characteristic: God's Will is Kind
God's Will is allWays Kind (column #4 in the example-charts below). Kindness cannot exist without choosing to be kind. Truth does not only serve to free your life from the prison of ignorance. It also liberates you from behaviors that shackle the free will necessary to choose that Kindness (remember: "The Truth will make You Free." ~ Jesus in John 8:32). Any act done out of obligation cannot be simultaneously done out of Love, and thus cannot reflect God's Will for your life. This is not to say that you should ignore all current promises and obligations. Indeed, always strive to honor the commitments you make. And yet, any action that is based in duty, obligation, responsibility, commitment and/or a conforming to societal expectations (i.e. what is "normal") cannot simultaneously be in harmony with your Life Mission ("I preferred to do nothing without your consent, that your Good Deed might be voluntary and not something forced." ~ Philemon 1:14 & "Though I am Free with respect to ev eryone, I have made myself a servant of all ..." ~ 1 Corinthians 9:19) ...
In addition, when we are free, we inherently open ourSelves to being grateful for our lives as they allReady are ("Rejoice always and pray without ceasing; Give thanks in all circumstances - for this is the Will of God." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). The miracle that is our conscious, human life is more than enough for anyone to be thankful. For the kind person, the man or woman who is free to choose this gratitude, the critical question in any moment becomes not "How is Life treating me?", but rather "How am I treating Life?" ("I had heard of [God] by the hearing of my ear, but now my eye Sees [Him] ..." ~ Job 42:5). Awaken to the truths that life is allWays treating us well, and that contentment becomes real when we begin to actualize our innate abundance via a professed thankfulness for what we already have -- as opposed to wishing for what we do not ("Already you have all you desire. Already you are Wealthy." ~ 1 Corinthians 4:8) ...
The following are some "express lanes to Salvation" - actions that efficiently allow anyone engaging them to experience God's Will via kindness: Be Kind to "strangers" you encounter (by making eye contact, smiling and offering them assistance -- "Remember to show hospitality to all strangers, for some have thereby entertained angels unawares" ~ Hebrews 13:2);
Be Kind to the elderly in your neighborhood (by visiting retirement homes and listening to those who live there -- "Let your gentleness be known to everyone." ~ Philippians 4:5 );
Be Kind to the downtrodden iI.e. the poor, the homeless, the ill and the imprisoned) in your community (by visiting shelters, hospitals and/or prisons to listen and to care -- "For I was hungry and you gave me food ... I was ill and you Cared for me, I was in prison and you visited me ... Just as you Do these things for the least of my brothers, so also you Do them for me." ~ Jesus in Matthew 25:35-36+40);
Be Kind to all children in your life (by gettin involved with local youth leagues, volunteering for a Big Brother/Big Sister program, or spending regular Quality-Time with your own kids -- "Whosoever welcomes one child in my name welcomes me." ~ Jesus in Matthew 18:5);
Be Kind to the animals around you (by going to your local animal shelter and being loving to those animals next in line for euthanasia - "Holy is the Lord of Hosts. Everything on the earth is full of His Glory." ~ Isaiah 6:3 & "In His hand is the Life of every living thing ..." ~ Job 12:10 & "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's Sight." ~ Jesus in Luke 12:6) ...
Clarifications: "Free" is not to be confused with "selfish" or "inconsiderate" ("All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Do not seek your own advantage, but rather that of the other." ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23-24). Freedom is not the right to do whatever we wish, but rather the right to serve others, in any and all ways that harmonize with Who we truly Are ("For you were Called to Freedom, only do not use your Freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through Love become servants of one another." ~ Galatians 5:13). It means nothing to be "free" if that liberty is used callously ("Take care that your Liberty does not become a stumbling block to the weak." ~ 1 Corinthians 8:9) ...
Similarly, being Kind does not exempt us from the benefits of being Self-disciplined. It merely encourages us to be voluntarily disciplined as opposed to "doing right" because we "should" do so ("God's Kindness is meant to lead [us] to repentance ... When [those] who do not possess the Law [still] Do instinctively what the Law requires, they ... show that what the Law requires is written on their Hearts ..." ~ Romans 2:4+14-15) ...
Finally, The gratitude of Self-discipline is not "masochistic." Choosing to be thank-full for life's challenges does not mandate that you wish for more pain in your life; merely that you choose to appreciate the opportunities present in the difficulties you happen to encounter ("Nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean." ~ Romans 14:14). Regardless of what you do, pain will come into your life - you need not yearn for its arrival. The question, then, is not whether pain is on its way or not, but rather what we will choose to do with our discomforts when they do arrive. It is possible (indeed, preferable) to choose to See all difficulties, discomforts and pains as challenges as opposed to "catastrophes" or "tragedies" ("Endure everything with patience, while Joy-fully Giving Thanks to the Father." ~ Colossians 1:11-12). In short, instead of selfishly complaining about life's pain-full times, choose to use those moments to be power-fully kind to othe rs ("To the pure, all things are pure." ~ Titus 1:15) ...
Synopsis: Kind Actions are unfettered by external influences or personal desires ...
They are free, thank-full and completely voluntary.
Determining Factor: During Decision-making, ask your Self -- "Is this particular option duty-based or can it be freely made? Is it motivated by gratitude for my life or does it tempt me to yearn for "something better"?
"Do not judge by appearances, but evaluate with sound discernment."
~ Jesus (John 7:24)
"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are Children of God. For we did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but we have Received a Spirit of Adoption." ~ Romans 8:14-15
"Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds." ... ~ Romans 14:5
"If I partake with thankfulness, how can I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks?" ~ 1 Corinthians 10:30
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:17
"For I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities ... for whenever [my flesh is] weak, then I [can choose to be] Strong."
~ 2 Corinthians 12:10
"But now that Faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian."
~ Galatians 3:25
"Just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born of the Spirit, so it is Now also ... For Freedom Christ has set us Free. Stand firm, therefore, and submit never again to a yoke of slavery."
~ Galatians 4:29+5:1
"Whatever is True, whatever is honorable, whatever is Just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable; if there is any excellence and if there is anything [in your lives] worthy of praise, think about these things."
~ Philippians 4:8
"There is great gain in godliness combined with Contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be Content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless desires ..." ~ 1 Timothy 6:6-8
"God disciplines us for our benefit, that we may then share in his holiness."
~ Hebrews 12:10
"Pursue Peace with everyone ..." ~ Hebrews 12:14
"Since we have received a Kingdom that cannot be shaken [see Luke 17:20-21], let us Give Thanks." ~ Hebrews 12:28
"As Servants of God, live as Free people, yet do not use your Freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone." ~ 1 Peter 2:16-17
The 5th Characteristic: God's Will is Loving
God's Will is allWays Loving (column #5 in the example-charts below). Actions in harmony with The Way further Love by being caring - always intending to cause no harm to others while simultaneously desiring the lessening of their burdens ("For the whole Law is summed up in one Commandment: You shall Love your neighbor as yourself." ~ Galatians 5:14). Fear-based actions, on the other hand, are self-centered; intending to further one's own survival, and often both producing pain and enhancing fear ("But even if you do suffer from Doing what is Right, you are Blessed. Do not fear what others fear, and do not be intimidated" ~ 1 Peter 3:14). We have not been called to a life of ease and comfort, but rather to a life of forgiveness and service ("Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also ... Love your enemies ... so that you may Become Children of your Father in Heaven." ~ Jesus in Matthew 5:39+44-45) ...
Clarifications: Being loving is not to be confused with "pacifism." Kindness is not effectuated by "giving in" to another's wishes, but rather by actively giving to them (often regardless of what their wishes might be). Capitulation to another's desires often entrenches their dysfunctional behaviors, and this is not caring, nor is it compassionate ("Love does no wrong to another; therefore, Love is the fulfillment of the Law." ~ Romans 13:10). To be truly loving to another, we must often be strong enough to so the Right act, as opposed to the action that is wished for – and we must often do so even when our own friends might be unintentionally angered by those choices ("For those who want to save their own life will lose it, and those who Give their Life for the Way will Find Life." ~ Jesus (Matthew 16:25)). Have faith in others' strength of character. Avoid attempting to "help" them, and simply be kind to them instead ("Endure when you Do Right and suffer for it ... For to this you hav e been Called." ~ 1 Peter 2:20-21) ...
Additionally, "care-full" cannot be accurately labeled as "weak." Indeed, choosing to be kind to one's "enemies" requires the greatest strength ("What good is it to Love only those who Love you?" ~ Jesus in Matthew 5:46). It is often uncomfortable - even frightening - to Do so. Every unkind behavior inherently seeks a fear-full response. Divine Kindness (i.e. caring for another completely without fear - see 1 John 4:18) is allWays a power-full response to any unkindness - and therefore not "weak" at all ("See that no on repays evil for evil, but rather always seek to Do Good to one another and to all ..." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:15) ...
Finally, loving acts need not be received, or even appreciated, to be power-full. The effectiveness of any action rests in its giving, not its reception ("This is my Commandment, that you Love one another as I have Loved you." ~ Jesus in John 15:12). Even if an intended receiver rejects a kindness, others will witness that compassion and be moved accordingly ("Show by your Good Life that your Works are Done with gentleness born of Wisdom." ~ James 3:13). And, the moment that your kindness is given again after its initial rejection, that recipient will feel your compassion on a very deep, power-full level ("Let us consider how to encourage one another towards Love and Good Deeds ..." ~ Hebrews 10:24) ...
Synopsis: Loving actions are gentle; always intending to relieve others' burdens ...
They are caring, healing and compassionate.
Determining Factor: During decision-making, ask your Self -- "Does this particular option cause the least harm to others? Is it intended to quench or avoid my personal fears or is it designed to relieve another's burdens?"
"Should you not have had Mercy on your fellow slave, as I had Mercy on you?" ~ Matthew 18:33
"You shall Love the Lord your God with all your Heart ... You shall Love your neighbor as your Self. There is no other Commandment greater than these."
~ Jesus in Mark 12:30-31
"No one has greater Love than this: to lay down one's Life for another."
~ Jesus (John 15:13)
"Let Love be genuine ... Love one another with mutual affection ..."
~ Romans 12:9-10
"Whoever Loves another has fulfilled the Law." ~ Romans 13:8
"Let all that you Do be Done in Love." ~ 1 Corinthians 16:14
"Be imitators of God, as beloved Children, and Live in Love, as Christ Loved us and gave himself up for us ..." ~ Ephesians 5:1-2
"I want their Hearts to be encouraged and united in Love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and the Knowledge of God's Mystery ..." ~ Colossians 2:2-3
"Above all, clothe yourselves in Love, which unites everything in perfect Harmony." ~ Colossians 3:14
"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." ~ Colossians 4:6
"Have unity of Spirit and Love for one another; a tender Heart and a humble mind." ~ 1 Peter 3:8
"Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; on the contrary, repay them with a Blessing. It is for this that You were Called." ~ 1 Peter 3:9
"We know Love by this, that he laid down his life for us - and we ought to lay down our Lives for one another." ~ 1 John 3:16
"The Commandment we have from Him is this: those who Love God must Love their brothers and sisters also." ~ 1 John 4:21
"And this is Love ... You must Walk in It." ~ 2 John 1:6
The 6th Characteristic: God's Will is Self-Disciplined
God's Will is allWays Self-Disciplined (column #6 in the example-charts below). To be truly disciplined, the True Path shows bravery in the face of fear ("Do not fear, only Believe ..." ~ Jesus in Mark 5:36). It can be said that the option most feared is the option most in need of actualization; both to allow for the most personal growth back to God (via the freeing of one's Soul from its ego-mind's fears), as well as to serve others more power-fully ("Rekindle the Gift of God that is within you ... For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a Spirit of Power and of Love ..." ~ 2 Timothy 1:6-7). Remember that most of the major revelations of the Bible begin with the words "Be not afraid" ("Take heart ... Do not be afraid." ~ Jesus in Mark 6:50). Self-discipline has us behaving courageously with others ("We have such a Hope, we act with great boldness." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:12) and worshipping God with courage as well ("Present yourself to God as one approved by Him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed ..." ~ 2 Timothy 2:15 & "Let us therefore approach the Throne with boldness, so that we may receive Mercy and find Grace to Help in time of need." ~ Hebrews 4:16) ...Indeed, Jesus displayed immense discipline during his ministry; a courage exhibited in the hopes that we too would adopt the Way of Love by releasing the primal fears that tempt us to behave selfishly ("He himself shared the same things, so that through death he might ... free those who all their lives have been held in slavery by the fear of death." ~ Hebrews 2:14-15 & "There is no fear in Love, but perfect Love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in Love." ~ 1 John 4:18) ...
One off-shoot of this characteristic is that Self-disciplined actions, due to the courage required to effectuate them in the face of so many temptations not to, tend to actively "test" your Life Path. These courageous "tests" often take the form of actions that are unconventional; choices that fly in the face of social expectations and/or societal norms ("When there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law." ~ Hebrews 7:12). Society wants us to be "safe", to find comfort, to engage in activities that are pleasurable, and to run from pain. In short, it encourages us to live selfishly ("We must obey God rather than any human authority." ~ Acts 5:29). Therefore, because God's Will encourages us to openly give to others, often with little or no personal benefit, loving actions are often seen by many as the "least respected", "least honored" and/or "least powerful" options available ("Do not sit at the place of Honor ... Go [instead] and sit at the lowest place ... For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." ~ Jesus in Luke 14:8-11). As a consequence, these choices often require us to persevere into regions that conventional wisdom deems to be "detrimental", "hopeless" or "dangerous" ("By your endurance you will gain your Souls." ~ Jesus in Luke 21:19) ...
Self-disciplined actions therefore dismiss all fears of "failure", all yearnings for external acceptance, and all cravings for "power"; replacing these with alternatives that bravely engage options that are less popular or less externally applauded ("For rules are not a terror to Good conduct, but only to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of human authority? Then Do what is Good ..." ~ Romans 13:3-4). It means nothing to be Self-disciplined if we use that resolve to merely conform to societal norms ("Do not become slaves of human masters. In whatever condition you were Called, there remain with God." ~ 1 Corinthians 7:23-24) ...
Clarifications: The stalwart courage of Self-discipline is not to be confused with recklessness -- sometimes referred to as "bravery" ("Do not put the Lord your God to the test." ~ Jesus in Matthew 4:7). It is not necessary to behave with a lack of caution to exhibit courage. True bravery exists in relation to what kind of action is taken, and not necessarily how that action is effectuated ("Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who Do the Will of the Father in Heaven." ~ Jesus in Matthew 7:21 & "Whoever Does the Will of God is my brother and sister and Mother." ~ Jesus in Mark 3:34-35). We must do the Will of the Father, and that Will is not related to specific acts, but rather a specific intention - the intention of selfless Love ...
Similarly, Self-discipline is not to be confused with "stubbornness." Just because the most courageous action is identified, in no way "locks one in" to that course of action ("For who knows what is truly Human except the Human Spirit within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God" ~ 1 Corinthians 2:11). When new evidence presents itself (e.g. when an option proves to be either too "easy" or too pain-inducing), we are allWays free to choose anew ...
Finally, the unconventionality of divine Self-discipline in no way requires us to be "rebellious" ("Give to the Emperor what is the Emperor's, and to God what is God's." ~ Jesus in Mark 12:17). What is resisted, persists, and what is fought, defends itself and grows stronger. Thus, as Christians we are not to discipline others, but rather to Love them with Self-discipline ("We are treated as imposters, and yet are true; ... as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many Rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything." ~ 2 Corinthians 6:8-10) ...
Synopsis: Self-disciplined actions display courage during life's fear-filled moments ...
They are fear-challenging, unconventional and Respect-full.
Determining Factor: During decision-making, ask your Self -- "When I imagine my current alternatives, which one do I fear the most? Is this particular option motivated by personal fear or is it intended to courageously Love others despite my fears?"
"Who are our adversaries? Let them confront us. It is the Holy Spirit who Guides us; who will declare us unworthy? All of our persecutors and tempters wear out like a garment ..." ~ Isaiah 50:8-10
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." ~ Jesus (Matthew 5:10)
"Do not let your Hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."
~ Jesus (John 14:27)
"In the world you will face persecution. But take Courage, I have conquered the world." ~ Jesus (John 16:33)
"It is through many persecutions that we must enter The Kingdom of Heaven." ~ Acts 14:22
"...endurance produces Character, and Character produces Faith, and Faith does not disappoint us ..." ~ Romans 3:4-5
"Note then both the Kindness and the severity of God: severity towards those who have fallen, but Kindness towards you, provided you continue in his Kindness ..." ~ Romans 11:22
"Keep alert, stand firm in your Faith, be Courageous, be Strong."
~ 1 Corinthians 16:13
"So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away ..."
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16
"If you are led by the Spirit, you are no longer subject to the Law."
~ Galatians 5:18
"Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us ..."
~ Hebrews 12:1
"Blessed is anyone who endures temptation." ~ James 1:12
"Be not surprised at the fiery ordeal taking place among you to test you."
~ 1 Peter 4:12
"Let those suffering in accordance with God's Will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to Do Good." ~ 1 Peter 4:19
"Cast all your anxieties on [God], because He cares for You. Discipline yourselves." ~ 1 Peter 5:7
"And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all Grace ... will restore, support, strengthen and establish You." ~ 1 Peter 5:10
The 7th Characteristic: God's Will is Gentle
God's Will is allWays Gentle (column #7 in the example-charts below). To be gentle with others, humility is required. The Child of God remembers that, with regards to "reality", perception is allWays malleable. Therefore, keep an open mind with regards to fresh opinions -- including another's advice and/or criticism ("Morning by morning we waken - waken our ears to Listen as those who are Taught ... We gave our back to those who strike us ... We do not hide our faces from insult." ~ Isaiah 50:5-6). This doesn't mean that the humble believer allWays follows those adverse opinions ("If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater ..." ~ 1 John 5:9). Rather, he or she is simply humble enough to Respect them ...
In this way, gentle actions are flexible "ahead of time." When engaging a choice, instead of "knowing" that you are "right", simply choose to re-mind yourself that, "though I cannot be certain my choice is the best one, I stride boldly forth; intending to harmonize with the Highest Good of God's Will -- and yet all the while I am ready to alter my course of action if it becomes clear that my original choice is not the most power-full one." ("We have this Treasure [our Soul's Light] in clay jars so that it might be made clear that this amazing Power [i.e. The Word: selfless Love] comes from God and does not belong to us." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7) ...
We should also, as Christians, be gentle with God. When in doubt, it is allWays effective to openly ask for divine guidance ("When one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:16). This can be accomplished by paying attention to your "gut feelings" when confiding in friends, when evaluating your dreams, and especially when praying ("Devote yourselves to prayer; keeping alert in it with thanksgiving." ~ Colossians 4:2). Purpose-fully make your choices "irrationally" (i.e. intuitively) by following these hunches, instead of your ego's "more rational" alternatives ("The one who is Within is greater than the one who is in the world." ~ 1 John 4:4) ...
Clarifications: The humility of divine Gentleness is not to be confused with humiliation. Right Actions allWays humbly attempt to relieve another's burdens. Thus, they cannot cause you embarrassment or shame, regardless of their outcomes ("Let your adornment be the inner Self, with the lasting Beauty of a gentle and quiet Spirit." ~ 1 Peter 3:4). Likewise, gentleness is not characterized by self-degradation. Humility has nothing to do with "obedience" to or subservience to another ("Very truly, the one who believes in me will also Do the Works I Do and, in fact, will Do even greater Works than these ..." ~ Jesus in John 14:12). On the other hand, gentle actions have everything to do with being courageously true to your True Self ("Clothe yourself with the new Self, created accorded to the likeness of God." ~ Ephesians 4:24) ...
Finally, though openly flexible, humble actions are not at all "wishy-washy" or "inconsequent." When another asks you for help, your ego may tempt you to believe that you have "more important things to do", or that the request for assistance is "unworthy" or "counterproductive." And yet, the humility of divine Gentleness encourages us to choose to help them anyway ("Each of us must please our neighbor solely for the good purpose of building up that neighbor." ~ Romans 15:2). As long as we can honestly have faith that our assistance neither causes future pain nor entrenches current discomfort, we engage that opportunity to serve. Service isn't a burden – Service is a privilege. Release your concerns related to an option's probability of "success", its practicality of implementation or its "irrationality" ("Like good stewards of the manifold Grace of God, Serve one another with whatever Gift each of you has Received." ~ 1 Peter 4:8). Choose instead to simply say "Yes" to every request that has the probability of aiding another -- especially if that request is not in your own "best interest" ("Give to everyone who begs of you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you." ~ Jesus in Matthew 5:42). remember that Christians do not do Good for another in order to get a reward; even the reward of changing them "for the better" ("But when you Give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. And you will be Blessed, because they cannot repay you ..." ~ Jesus in Luke 14:13-14) ...
Also, as Christians, we are called to bear witness to the Good News. Still, our witnessing must also be gentle. "The Great Commission" is not a process of converting others to our own views ("This is the Covenant that I [God] will make [via Jesus] ... I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their Hearts ... And they shall not teach one another or say to each other 'Know the Lord' ..." ~ Hebrews 8:10-11 & "You have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others, for in passing judgment on others you condemn yourself ..." ~ Romans 2:1). Rather, it is a life of showing The Way to others with your actions ("Let your Light shine before others, so that they may see your Good Works ..." ~ Jesus in Matthew 5:16 & Mark 4:21-22). Mother Teresa, quoting St. Francis of Assisi, noted that we should "Testify to the Word of God; using words only when necessary." Thus, we are to verbally share our faith only with those who ask us to do so ("Always be Ready to support your Way to anyone wh o demands from you an accounting ... and Do so with gentleness and humility" ~ 1 Peter 3:15) ... Therefore, show others The Way with your actions much more than your words. Show them that Peace and Happiness are internal choices. Show them that neither internal temptations nor external pressures can keep us all from choosing to be true to our True Selves by loving others ("My Grace is sufficient for you, for my Power is made perfect through temptations of weakness." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-9) ...
Synopsis: Gentle choices are humbly made and performed with Humility ...
They are open-minded, intuitive and bold.
Determining Factor: During decision-making, ask your Self -- "Am I 'certain' that this particular option's is right, or am I only certain that it is Right with God? Does this particular option require that I inflexibly commit to its completion, or does it allow me to adjust while I implementing it?"
"God opposes the proud and Gives Grace to the Humble." ~ Proverbs 3:34
"Do not judge, so that you may not be judged." ~ Jesus (Matthew 7:1)
"I thank you, Father ... because you have hidden these things from the 'wise' and the 'intelligent' and revealed them instead to infants ..."
~ Jesus (Matthew 11:25)
"Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever becomes Humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom." ~ Jesus (Matthew 18:3-4)
"All who humble themselves will be exalted."
~ Jesus (Matthew 23:12 -- see also Luke 14:8-11 & 18:14)
"My Soul magnifies the Lord ... He has shown His Strength ... He has scattered the proud ... He has brought down the powerful ... and lifted up the lowly." ~ Luke 1:46-47+51-52
"How can you [truly] Believe when you accept glory from one another and do not Seek the Glory that comes from the one who alone is God?" ~ Jesus (John 5:44)
"God has made of one blood all nations of men ... In God we Live and Love and have our Being." ~ Acts 17:26-28
"I do not count my Life of any value to myself; only if I may finish my course and the ministry I have Received ..." ~ Acts 20:24
"A person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the Heart - it is Spiritual and literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God ... Although everyone lies, let God be proven True."
~ Romans 2:29+3:4
"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the Good News."
~ Romans 10:15
"Do not think more highly of yourselves than you should, but think rather with sober judgment, each according to the measure of Faith that God has assigned ... Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly."
~ Romans 12:3+16
"God chose what is low and despised in the world ... to reduce to nothing the things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God ... So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything; only God who Gives the Growth" ~ 1 Corinthians 1:28-29+3:7
"Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become humble so that you might become truly Wise."
~ 1 Corinthians 3:18
"All of us possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but only Love builds up. Anyone who claims to know does not yet have the necessary Knowledge; but anyone who Loves is Known." ~ 1 Corinthians 8:1-2
"The members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater Respect."
~ 1 Corinthians 12:22-23
"You are the Temple of the Living God." ~ 2 Corinthians 6:16
"It is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but rather those whom the Lord commends." ~ 2 Corinthians 10:18
"For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves." ~ Galatians 6:3
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in Humility regard others as better than yourselves." ~ Philippians 2:3
"And the Peace of God, which surpasses all [human] understanding, will guard your Hearts and your Minds ..." ~ Philippians 4:7
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt You." ~ James 4:10
"And all of you must clothe yourselves in Humility in your dealings with one another, for God opposes the proud, but Gives Grace to the humble." ~ 1 Peter 5:5
The 8th Characteristic: God's Will is Joyful
God's Will is allWays Joyful (column #8 in the example-charts below). It is crucial to realize that divine Joy resides only in the Here&Now ("Now is the acceptable time; See, Now is the Moment of Salvation!" ~ 2 Corinthians 6:2). Thus, to be truly Joy-full "in Christ", we must detach from our worldly concerns about the future and flow with what IS instead ("Be on guard so that your Hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of your life ..." ~ Jesus in Luke 21:34). Similarly, the joyful Christian must also release all regrets related to the past ("No one who puts a hand on the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God." ~ Jesus in Luke 9:62). As a consequence, to actualize our most power-full path, it is counterproductive to worry about an action's potential consequences ("Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today." ~ Jesus in Matthew 6:34). Hope for "success" must be removed fr om any decision-making process in order for that choice to be truly effective ("You Received without payment; Give without payment ..." ~ Jesus in Matthew 10:8). Thus, all joyful actions release striving for the attainment of personal ambitions, goals and/or dreams. Instead, use what you allReady have to serve where you allReady Are ("Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not my will but thy will be Done." ~ Jesus in Matthew 26:39) ...
Clarifications: Divine Joy's detachment from all future-based hope is not to be confused with "callousness." Even though a Right Action is fundamentally unconcerned with its consequences at the time of decision-making, it still accepts complete responsibility for any consequences that do ensue ("Do not neglect to Do Good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." ~ Hebrews 13:16). This selfless intention allows our actions to be unhindered by potential guilt ...Of course, if an action does happen to unintentionally cause another pain, the Child of God has compassion for that person and apologizes; all the while remaining grounded in the knowledge that his or her choice was Right regardless at the time of its making ("God's foolishness is wiser than human knowledge, and God's weakness is stronger than human might." ~ 1 Corinthians 1:25). Divine Joy can only exist when shame, embarrassment and guilt are completely extinguished, and this can only take place when we choose to act lovingly in the moment, for that moment ...
Similarly, while Joyful Actions do tend to focus one's attention in the more minute wonders of the present moment, they are not oblivious to life's "bigger picture" ("Look at what is before your eyes." ~ 2 Corinthians 10:7). Seeing the specialness of the moment in no way requires you to neglect life in general, much less forget the bigger vision that inspired such a choice in the first place ("Unless you See signs and Wonders, you will not Believe ... If you Believe, you will See the Glory of God." ~ Jesus in John 4:48 & 11:46). There is a marked difference between awareness and "tunnel-vision." The former is focused on wonders that reside within the interconnected Whole, while the latter is oblivious to that Interconnection and focuses instead solely on the object at hand ("The darkness is passing away ... The True Light is already shining." ~ 1 John 2:8) ...
Synopsis: Joyful actions are completely oriented in the Here&Now ...
They are detached from expectation, even while grounded in the Moment.
Determining Factor: During decision-making, ask your Self -- "Is this particular option founded in a future-based hope or memory-based fear, or is it grounded in this present moment?"
"In [God's] Presence is the fullness of Joy." ~ Psalm 16:11
"The eye is the Lamp of the body. So, if your eye is Healthy, your whole body will be full of Light." ~ Jesus (Matthew 6:22)
"Blessed are your eyes, for they See, and your ears, for they Hear. Many prophets and righteous people longed to See what you See, but could not See it; and to Hear what you Hear, but could not Hear it." ~ Jesus (Matthew 13:16-17)
"The Time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand ..." ~ Jesus in Mark 1:15
"Do not be afraid, for it is your Father's good pleasure to [continually] Give you the Kingdom ... Be dressed for action and have your Lamps lit.""
~ Jesus (Luke 12:32+35)
"But the hour is coming, and is Now Here, when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship Him." ~ Jesus (John 4:23-24)
"My time has not yet come, but your Time is always Here." ~ Jesus (John 7:6)
"Now is the judgment of this world; the ruler of this world will be driven out." ~ Jesus in John 12:31
"Your Heart will rejoice, and no one will be able to take your Joy from You."
~ Jesus (John 16:22)
"For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world, His eternal Power and Divine Nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and Seen through the things He has made." ~ Romans 1:19-20
"So do not become proud, but stand in Awe." ~ Romans 11:20
"You know what time it is, how it is Now the Moment for you to wake from sleep." ~ Romans 13:11
"The appointed time has grown short. From now on ... let those who deal with the world [do so] as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away." ~ 1 Corinthians 7:29+31
"Our inner nature is being renewed Moment by Moment."
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16
"Everything exposed by the Light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible IS Light." ~ Ephesians 5:13-14 [note: "God is Light ..."
~ 1 John 1:5]
"Be careful then, how you Live; not as unwise people but as Wise -- making the most of the Time ..." ~ Ephesians 5:15-16
"So let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep Awake ..."
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:6
"But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today' ..."
~ Hebrews 3:13
"You do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your Life? For you are a mist that appears for but a little while and then vanishes." ~ James 4:14
The 9th Characteristic: God's Will is Faithful
God's Will is allWays Faith-full (column #9 in the example-charts below). Both societal and man-made judgments of morality are always in some way fear-based -- and therefore inaccurate. Spiritual men and women, on the other hand, measure their actions instead using the divine standard of a morality that is based in Faith ("Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner Nature is being renewed day by day, because we look not to that which can be seen but rather that which cannot be seen." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:17-18). To Do so consistently, we must follow the internal guidance of the Advocate Within by focusing primarily on others' well-being instead of our own personal "gains" ...
The Child of God chooses to see the Highest Good that resides in everything making up every moment. What IS, is right and Good ("Whenever you face trials of any kind, consider them nothing but Joy ..." ~ James 1:2). Our Mission is to see life as such, and our Faith is that which allows us to do so. This mentality allows us to more readily harmonize with our Reality. Thus, Faith-full actions encourage us to see the "Golden Cores of Goodness" residing within all conscious beings we encounter - regardless of what these beings do or don't do ("Who are you to pass judgment on the servants of another? It is before their own Lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for God is able to help them stand." ~ Romans 14:4) ...
Clarifications: "Faith-fullness" is not to be confused with narrow-mindedness or zealotry. Faith does not require an assimilation into a particular religious group ("Beware the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." ~ Jesus in Matthew 16:6). It also doesn't require an adherence to any particular creed. In fact, Faith requires a Believer to remain independent from all man-made dogma ("For we cannot do anything against the Truth." ~ 2 Corinthians 13:8). This freedom allows us to remain consciously tnterdependent with all of life ("God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who Respects Him and Does what is Right is acceptable to Him." ~ Acts 10:34-35) ...
Being Faith-full also does not mean that we are "passive." To the contrary, to actualize God's Will, we must actively apply our Faith in divine guidance, and we must often do so irrationally ("Show me your Faith apart from your Works, and I by my Works will show you my Faith ... [Abraham's'] Faith was active along with his Works, and his Faith was brought to completion by those Works." ~ James 2:18+22) ...
Synopsis: Faith-full actions encourage selflessness ...
They are interconnected, intuitive and virtuous (a.k.a. "moral").
Determining Factor: During decision-making, ask your Self -- "Is this particular option a selfish one or a selfless (i.e. virtuous) One? Is it 'certain' or is it open-minded?"
"According to your Faith, let it be done for you ..." ~ Jesus (Matthew 9:29)
"Ye of little Faith, why do you doubt?" ~ Jesus (Matthew 14:31)
"If you have Faith the size of a mustard seed, ... nothing will be impossible for You." ~ Jesus (Matthew 17:20)
"Blessed is she who Believed, for there will be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." ~ Luke 1:45
"Your Faith has Saved you; Go in Peace." ~ Jesus (Luke 7:50)
"Receive your Sight; your Faith has Saved you." ~ Jesus (Luke 18:42)
"Do not doubt, but Believe ... Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to Believe." ~ Jesus (John 20:27+29)
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [see Exodus 3:14 & Matthew 1:23] shall be Saved." ~ Acts 2:21
"The Righteousness of God is revealed through Faith for Faith ... The one who is Righteous will Live by Faith ... For it is not the hearers of the Law who are Righteous in God's Sight, but the Doers of the Law who are justified ... For we hold that a person is justified by Faith apart from those works that are prescribed by the law." ~ Romans 1:17+2:13+3:28
"We walk by Faith, not by sight." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7
"Now it is evident that no one is justified before God via the law; for the one that is Righteous via Faith will Live ... The only thing that counts is Faith working through Love." ~ Galatians 3:11+5:6
"What good is it if you say you have Faith but do not have Works? ... Faith by itself, if it has no Works, is dead ... You may believe that God is One and do well, but even the demons believe and shudder ... Know, therefore, that a person is justified by Works and never by Faith alone." ~ James 2:14+17+19+24
More Biblical evidence of the Spirit's 9 Fruits
There are four other instances in the New Testament where Paul points out that we are to actively fulfill these nine characteristics of God's Will. To aid your Christian journey, I have cited them here and referenced Paul's Galatians 5:22-23 terminology where relevant ...
"Let Love be genuine ... Love one another with mutual affection (Love); outdo one another in showing honor (Generosity). Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in Spirit (Joy), Serve the Lord. Rejoice in Hope (Faithfulness), be patient in suffering (Patience) ... Extend hospitality to strangers (Self-Discipline). Bless those who persecute you (Peace) ... Live in Harmony with one another (Kindness), do not be haughty ... do not claim to be wiser than you are (Gentleness)." ~ Romans 12:9-16
"Love is Patient (Patience), Love is Kind (Kindness); Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant (Gentleness)... It is not irritable or resentful (Peace); It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in Truth (Love). It bears all things (Generosity), believes all things (Joy), hopes all things (Faithfulness), and endures all things (Self-Discipline). Love never ends." ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
"As servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way ... by purity (Joy), Knowledge (Gentleness), patience (Patience), kindness (Kindness), Holiness of Spirit (Faithfulness), genuine Love (Love), truthful speech (Self-Discipline), and the Power of God (Generosity); with the Weapons of Righteousness (Peace) for the right hand and the left ..." ~ 2 Corinthians 6:4+6-7
"As God's chosen ones, clothe yourselves with Compassion (Love), Kindness (Kindness), Humility (Gentleness), Meekness (Self-Discipline) and Patience (Patience) ... Forgive (Peace) each other ... Above all, clothe yourselves with Love (Joy), which binds everything together in perfect Harmony. Let the Peace of Christ (Faithfulness) rule in your Hearts ... And be thankful (Generosity)." ~ Colossians 3:12-15
Even though the key terms of these passages may differ from Paul's original message, and even though these four passages are not specifically speaking of the "Fruit of the Spirit", it is interesting - and somewhat poignant - that each passage advocates the actualization of nine different Virtues; nine Virtues that reflect the same nine "Fruits of the Spirit" that Paul mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 ...
Practicing the Preaching
It is one thing to comprehend these characteristics, and another thing to apply them into your everyday life. Thus, the following recommendations have been provided to make it easier for you to do so ...
Example A: Everyday Decisions ... The nine characteristics of Right Action can be utilized during everyday decision-making. To Do so, simply chart any choice's alternatives on a piece of paper in any two (or more) ways . My two most effective methods of doing so are demonstrated as follows:
Example A - Chart 1: "Counting Crosses" ... Analyze each alternative comparatively with regards to each individual characteristic; giving the alternative that most purely embodies the particular characteristic a "cross" (representing the selflessness of God's perfect Love). When Analyzing 5 or more alternatives, you may give your second-most power-full alternative a "cross" as well (but only if it purely embodies that characteristic). Do this for all nine characteristics and then add up each alternative's "crosses." The option with the most "crosses" is then your most power-full choice; the course of action most likely to bring you Peace, enLighten your True Path, and give others the Love that could emPower them to make similarly courageous decisions ...
Below is a sample chart with five alternatives that were options from a time in my "previous Life." It may easier for someone to stay late at the office, go to the gym or write in a diary. And yet, the easier courses of action are often the least power-full -- thus bringing lesser amounts of Joy and Peace into our lives. Investing in others' well-being, on the other hand, allWays require more effort and therefore allWays brings more Peace ...
The 9 Fruits 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Totals
Write in Diary + + 2
Work Late 0
Go to the Gym 0
Dinner with wife + + + + + 5
Play with kid(s) + + + + + + + + 8
Example A - Chart 2: "Cumulative Rating" ... The "cumulative rating" method also charts alternatives in relation to the individual characteristics of each particular option. This method is a bit different, however, in that it assigns each alternative a numerical value per characteristic - a "1" for the alternative that most purely embodies that characteristic of God's Will, a "2" for the "next-best" alternative, and so on. After all nine characteristics have been so evaluated, the nine characteristic-scores for each alternative are added together, with the lowest score being the choice most in alignment with God's Will ...
The 9 Fruits 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Totals
Write in Diary 1 3 5 2 3 5 5 1 3 28
Work Late 2 5 3 5 5 4 4 4 5 37
Go to the Gym 5 4 4 4 4 3 3 5 4 36
Dinner with wife 3 2 2 3 2 2 2 3 2 21
Play with kid(s) 4 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 13
Note: Use these charts only when in doubt as to your Right course of action. The scores in these examples do not indicate that you should abandon all activities that are self-oriented (be they the gym, the diary or the job). The chart-method does not identify "wrong" choices; merely those that are more (or less) Power-full in relation to God's Will ... Thus, the previous results indicate that playing with my child was my most power-full option at that time; the alternative most in harmony with God's Will. Therefore, whenever in doubt as to what "to do", I should engage this choice over other, more self-centered ones. It is Right Action to care for your body, examine your Self in a diary and work hard for your company. It is not Right, however, to do so at the expense of loving others in your life ...
Example B: "Bigger" Decisions ... The "chart-method" is equally effective when analyzing your life as a whole. We often wonder things like "What is my Vocation?", "What is my Purpose in life?" or "What life path should I be following?" It has been my experience that we each innately Know the answer(s) to such questions - even though we often cleverly convince ourselves that these solutions are "beyond knowing" or "mysteries." Fortunately, when we have the Courage to engage this chart-method honestly, it is allWays possible to identify our moment's true "Life Mission" ...
Example B - Chart 1: "Counting Crosses" ... The sample chart that follows contains the five major "Life Avenue alternatives" that I was willing to undertake just before commencing with my still-ongoing Peace Pilgrimage ...
Even though it is not necessary to include options that you "know" to be feasible, it is crucial that you only include alternatives that you are completely willing to engage. Thus, this method only functions powerfully when we are truly ready to become aware of our calling and follow God's Will thereafter. Otherwise, our egos will prevent us from even including the choices that best reflect that calling at all. For this exercise to be effective, it is necessary to dismiss all your concerns related to "practicality" and/or "probability of success." You are free to dream -- and you are free to actualize those dreams!
The 9 Fruits 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Totals
K-6 Teacher's Aid + + + + + 5
Civil Rights Attorney + 1
Writer/Author + + 2
Peace Pilgrim + + + + + + + + + 9
Example B - Chart 2: "Cumulative Rating" ... In principle, this chart functions similarly to Example A's second chart (above) ...
The 9 Fruits 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Totals
Politician 5 5 4 5 5 2 4 5 5 40
K-6 Teacher's Aid 3 2 2 3 2 4 2 2 2 22
Civil Rights Attorney 4 4 3 4 3 3 5 4 3 33
Writer/Author 2 3 5 2 4 5 3 3 4 31
Peace Pilgrim 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 09
Note again that these charts do not identify "wrong" options. It is not "wrong" to be a politician, for example. In his instance, the charts simply show that, for mySelf, politician would have been the least-powerfull choice; the option least in alignment with God's Will for my life at that time...
AllWays God's Will: Loving your Neighbor ...
We also know from the teachings of Jesus that only the believer who actively loves his or her neighbor attains the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus, even if we aren't certain of our Life Mission, we can know that loving others is allWays in harmony with God's Will ...
"Those who are Righteous plan Noble Acts, and by Noble Acts they stand."
~ Isaiah 32:8
"Glory and Peace for everyone who does Good, ... For God shows no partiality." ~ Romans 2:10-11
"Do what is Good, and you will receive the approval of all Just authority."
~ Romans 13:3
"For the whole Law is summed up in one Commandment: You shall Love your neighbor as yourSelf." ~ Galatians 5:14
"We must no longer be adolescents, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the Truth in Love, we must Grow Up in every Way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped ... promotes the body's growth in building itself up in Love." ~ Ephesians 4:14-15
"Live as Children of the Light - for the fruit of the Light is Found in all that is Good and Right and True." ~ Ephesians 5:8-9
"Anyone, then, who Knows the Right Thing to Do and fails to Do It, commits sin." ~ James 4:17
"Know by this may we be sure that we Know Him: if we Obey his Commandments." ~ 1 John 2:3 [see also Matthew 22:37-40]
"We pass from death to Life when we Love one another ... Let us Love, not in thought or speech, but in Truth and Action." ~ 1 John 3:14+18
"If we Love one another, God Lives in us, and His Love is perfected in us."
~ 1 John 4:12
"God is Love, and those who abide in Love abide in God, and God abides in them." ~ 1 John 4:16
"Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is Good. Whoever does Good is from God; whoever does evil has not yet Seen God." ~ 3 John 1:11
Summary and Conclusion
The critical shifts in life allWays come when the desire to harmonize with our existence becomes greater than our fear of the process of that change. The outcome of this shift is allReady success-full the minute you honestly choose to believe that -- "I am completely willing to serve God's Will over my own." The more purely an action harmonizes with God's Will, the more obvious its divine characteristics (i.e. its "Fruit") will become, and the more power-full that choice will be once you to follow through with it ...
There is no such thing as only one "best choice" in any given moment. Many have paralyzed their selves by making no choice at all rather than risk making the "wrong choice" (or missing out on the "best alternative"). It has been my personal experience that there are 100's of "best choices" for each of us in every moment of our Lives; 100's of opportunities for us to love others in harmony with God's Will . We may not ever actualize the most-powerfull of these options, and yet our challenge is merely to actualize one of them ...
There can never be a "failure" in your life when your actions' intentions are based in compassion ("You have Seen the Purpose of the Lord, how He is Compassionate and Merciful." ~ James 5:11). Your ego may try to convince you that you are "too small" or "too weak" to fulfill your Life Mission. This fear is irrelevant ("Be steadfast and immovable, always excelling in the Work of the Lord, because you Know that in the Lord your labor is never in vain." ~ 1 Corinthians 15:58 & "And this is the boldness we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His Will, He hears us." ~ 1 John 5:14). Contentment can be lived moment-to-moment whether we complete our calling or not ("The Works that the Father has given Me to complete, the Works that I am Doing, testify on my behalf ..." ~ Jesus in John 5:36). The journey truly is the destination as far as God's Will is concerned. Life is only found in its living. The quantity of things "done", completed, "accomplished" or even commenced matters no t to God ("Like good stewards of the manifold Grace of God, Serve one another with whatever Gift each of you has Received." ~ 1 Peter 4:10) ...
There are opportunities every day (indeed, in every moment) to become a Child of God. Every emotion felt is an opportunity to honestly express the same. Every moment of surprise is an opportunity to Love with selfless courage (as opposed to reacting with selfish fear). Every confrontation with something new is an opportunity to stand in awe without analysis, pre-conception or judgment. Every "coincidence" is a wonder-full opportunity to see God "speaking" with you. Every time you are either attacked or supported is an opportunity to look past the man-made labels of "enemy" or "friend" and simply accept what is being given to you (be that gift the challenge to lovingly forgive the "enemy" or the opportunity to be humbly thank-full for the "friend") ...
One day of pro-active, purpose-full work is enough to bring you Peace ...
One day, every day ...
Neither I nor anyone else has the faintest idea what your "True Purpose" is. Fortunately, You Do! And the obvious fact that you are reading this article means that you are allReady in some way seeking God's Will - and this means that you will inevitably find It ("Whoever Follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life." ~ Jesus in John 8:12). And the speed with which you will do so will be in direct proportion to the courageousness of your choices ("Know that your last Works are greater than your first." ~ Romans 2:19) ...
So, go forth today and live courageously, my Friend!
"For the Kingdom of God depends not on talk but on Action."
~ 1 Corinthians 4:20
"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To everyone is given the manifestation of The Spirit for the common good." ~ 1 Corinthians 12:4
"For we Are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for Good Works, which God prepared beforehand to be our Way of Life." ~ Ephesians 2:10
"All Scripture is inspired by God, and useful for teaching ... so that everyone may be proficient; equipped for every Good Work." ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Peace allows for Patience ...
Patience allows for Generosity ...
Generosity allows for Kindness ...
Kindness allows for Compassion ...
Compassion allows for Self-Discipline ...
Self-Discipline allows for Gentleness ...
Gentleness allows for Joyfulness ...
Joyfulness allows for Faith ...
Faith allows for Peace ...
Peace allows for Patience ...
Patience allows for Generosity ...
Generosity allows for Kindness ...
Kindness allows for Compassion ...
Compassion allows for Self-Discipline ...
Self-Discipline allows for Gentleness ...
Gentleness allows for Joyfulness ...
Joyfulness allows for Faith ...
Faith allows for Peace ...
Peace allows for Patience ...
Many Christians believe that God is a "testing God." They feel that He places painful obstacles and challenges into our lives that we may then "prove ourselves" to Him. They are certain that He punishes us when we sin. They feel that God, from time to time, gets fed up with Mankind and sends wrathful "lessons" upon us to "encourage us" to "be better." To them, sometimes God is an angry, stern Father. I will admit, when read literally, evidence for this theory seemingly abounds in the Hebrew Bible's "Old Testament" ...
And yet the New Testament clearly and repeatedly states that God is both all-Loving ("God is Love, and those who abide in Love abide in God, and God abides in them." ~ 1 John 4:16) and all-Forgiving ("I desire Mercy, not sacrifice." ~ Matthew 9:13). This is most evident in the vast majority of the Teachings of Jesus Christ ...
The New Covenant transcends the Old
And so how can we reconcile this readily apparent (and very important) contradiction? The easiest way to do so is found within the verses of the Bible itself. The New Testament makes it clear that, wherever there is an apparent contradiction between the two Covenants (as in the case at hand, with the Old Testament identifying God as wrathful and the New Testament billing Him as all-Loving), the New Covenant always takes precedence ("There is, on the one hand, the abrogation of an earlier Commandment because it was weak and ineffectual ... There is, on the other hand, the introduction of a better Hope, through which we approach God ... [Jesus] has obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree is the mediator of the better covenant ... For if the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one ... In speaking of a 'new Covenant', he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear." ~ Hebrews 7:18-22 & Hebrews 8:6-13) ...
Of course, some may argue that Jesus himself supported Moses' Law ("Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill." ~ Matthew 5:17). This is true, though the Bible goes on at length to explain that, while Jesus did affirm the validity of the Old Testament Law, he also came to radically modify the way we are to fulfill that Law ("For if there was Glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of liberation abound in Glory! ... Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only 'in Christ' is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:9-15). In essence, Jesus replaced the 10 negative "Thou shalt not" Commandments of Moses with 2 "Thou shall" Commandments of God ("For in [Jesus] every one of God's promises is a 'Yes'. For this reas on it is through him that we say 'Amen' to the Glory of God." ~ 2 Corinthians 1:19-20). In this way, Jesus became the "end" of the older Law, even while he upheld its basic tenants ("Christ is the End of the Law." ~ Romans 10:4 & "The Law indeed was given through Moses; Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ." ~ John 1:17). Jesus came to bring us The Way; a practice of Love that would make the then stale Old Covenant effective and viable again in our everyday lives ...
And yet, for those who believe that the Old Testament's "God of wrath" is still alive and well (despite the Scriptural references cited above), the problem still presents itself: without believing in the simultaneous existence of two very different Gods, how can we reconcile these apparently contradictory beliefs – a God who is both all-Loving and yet wrathful; a God who cares for us regardless of what we do and yet regularly provokes us with pain so that we can then "prove ourselves" to Him? More importantly for Christians, how can we reconcile these two interpretations of God in a way that harmonizes with Jesus' clear Commandment of unconditional Love? Fortunately, there is a Way – a Way found in the verses of the Bible itself!
Remembering the Nature of God
Initially, it is Important to remember that the Bible itself states that we cannot quantify God with any certainty. He and the magnitude of His ways will forever remain a Mystery to us ("The God who made the world and everything in it ... does not Live in shrines made by human hands, nor is He Served by human hands, as though He needed anything ... For in Him we Live and move and have our Being ... Since we are God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals." ~ Acts 17:24-29 & "O, the depth of the riches and Wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" ~ Romans 11:33). This need not be a cause for concern, for this mysteriousness is what makes our faith I God not only necessary, but power-full ("Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to Believe." ~ John 20:29). Indeed, it is not for us to strive to "know" the exact nature of God, b ut rather it is our Mission to humble ourselves and simply follow His Commandment of unconditional Love (No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we Love one another, God lives in us and His Love is perfected in us. By this Love we know that we abide in Him and He in us." ~ 1 John 4:12 & "Knowledge puffs up, but Love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who Loves God is known by Him." ~ 1 Corinthians 8:1-2 & "Know the Love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge." ~ Ephesians 3:19). Actually, it is because we cannot know God's Will for certain that our actions, when faith-fully attempting to fulfill His Will, are powerful ("Due, then, to our faith, we act with great boldness." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:12) ...
God Resides Within You
And where are we to find our God? Many pray to a God that resides "on high"; far away from our mortal existence on Earth. These believers worship an external God that "looks down" upon us "from on high." Indeed, there is Scriptural support for such a claim ("Where can I Go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your Presence? If I go up on the Heavens, you are there: if I make my bed in the depths, you are there." ~ Psalm 139:7). I myself choose to see God in everything around me every day. I feel His presence in my Life. And yet, when the Bible speaks of worshipping God in relation to our Salvation, it invariably describes God as an internal Presence – a Guiding Power residing inside each and every one of us ("Know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you." ~ John 14:20 & "Do you not Know that you are God's Temple, and that God's Spirit dwells in You?" ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16 & "Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?" ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5). And so, God is in everyth ing; both those entities outside our bodies as well as the Force of Spirit that resides within our hearts ("There is one body and one Spirit; ... one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." ~ Ephesians 4:4-6) ...
God is all-Loving
More important than where God resides is the revelation of His Divine Nature; the essence of God's Character. Though God may rest within all that exists, it is not necessarily true that everything in existence accurately reflects God's Love. While remaining vague with regards to any specific attributes of God, the Bible makes it very clear that God is the embodiment of perfect Love ("Whoever Loves another Lives in the Light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling ... Beloved, let us Love one another, because Love is from God; everyone who Loves is Born of God and Knows God ... No one has ever seen God; if we Love one another, God Lives in us, and his Love is perfected in us ... God is Love, and those who abide in Love abide in God, and God abides in them" ~ 1 John 2:10 & 1 John 4:7-16). In addition, and more important with regards to this article, God is immune from all evil and therefore tempts none of us to be selfish ("God cannot be tempted by evil and He himself tempts n o one." ~ James 1:13). He is not a God who effectuates pain, which causes dissension, but is rather a God of harmony ("For God is not a God of disorder but of Peace." ~ 1 Corinthians 14:33). In fact, God is not the source of our life's challenges at all, but rather is the source of the Love that enables us to give lovingly despite those difficulties ("Every generous act of Giving, with every perfect Gift, is from Above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." ~ James 1:17) ...
God is all-Forgiving
In addition to His loving nature, God is also the epitome of perfect, unconditional Forgiveness ("And even when you were dead in your trespasses, God made you alive together with him when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it all to the cross ..." ~ Colossians 2:12-13). This is supported by simple, God-given common sense. It is almost insulting to God to say that He intentionally created us as imperfect Beings* and yet still directly punishes any of us for the very mistakes this His own Act of Creation engendered ...
*There is no debate that 1] Love must be volitional to exist (no one can Love with a gun to his or her head; Love is by its very nature selfless -- given freely or given not at all), 2] our Salvation hinges upon our ability to Choose Love over fear (see Matthew 5:48 & 1 John 4:18), and 3] this Free Will makes us per se mistake-prone beings, apt to err while living "in the flesh" ...
More importantly for Christians, the Bible itself notes repeatedly that God is a God of Forgiveness, and that this Forgiveness is inclusive for all human beings regardless of their sins ("[God] is Kind to both the ungrateful and the sinful. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be Forgiven." ~ Luke 6:36-37). We are commanded to be "perfect" with our Love by loving our enemies – just as God Loves and Forgives His enemies ("He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the Good, and sends rain on the Righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you Love only those who Love you, what reward do you have? ... Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." ~ Matthew 5:45-48 & "If a brother sins against me, how often should I forgive -- as many as seven times? Jesus said to him: [Forgive] not seven, but seventy times seven times." ~ Matthew 18:21-22). Even the Apostle Paul, who sometimes used harsh words to describe his own opinion as to the nature of God's Love, made it very clear that everyone who respects God by doing Good is accepted by God ("I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who respects Him and does what is Right is acceptable to Him." ~ Acts 10:34-35 & "Live in Peace, and the God of Love and Peace will be with You." ~ 2 Corinthians 13:11). This is reflected as well in the Luke's parable of the "Prodigal Son", where the Father (representing God) forgives his sinful son before that son even has an opportunity to repent! ("So he set off and went to his Father. Yet while he was still far off, his Father saw him and was filled with Compassion; [His Father then] ran out and put his arms around the son and kissed him." ~ Luke 15:20) ...
Indeed, how can a just and fair God demand less of himself than he demands of us? ("Be Kind to one another; tenderhearted, forgiving one another -- just as God has forgiven you." ~ Ephesians 4:32). He tells us in the Bible that we must Love perfectly (see Matthew 5:48 et al) by forgiving even our enemies. He also tells us that all punishment is fear-based and that where there is fear, there cannot be perfection in Love (see 1 John 4:18). Thus, if the Bible is telling us the Truth, then God does not "guide" us with pain at all, much less punish us for our mistakes. Rather, when we experience pain in our lives, we can have complete faith that those difficulties were created by ourselves (as consequences of our previous selfish choices), and not sent to us as "lessons" or "discipline" by God ("Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be Saved through him." ~ John 3:17 & "The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to th e Son." ~ John 5:22 & "I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to Save the world." ~ John 12:47) ...
God does not "test" us or cause us pain
God is not the entity that causes us pain, but rather the Essence of Love that gives us strength during all times of trial and tribulation ("But the Lord is Faithful; he will Strengthen you and guard you from the evil one." ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:3). God wishes no one ill, but rather desires that all conscious beings choose the path of perfect Love's Salvation ("So that we may lead a quiet and peaceable Life in all godliness and Dignity. This is Right and Acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be Saved and to come to the Knowledge of the Truth." ~ 1 Timothy 2:2-4 & "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but rather all to come to repentance." ~ 2 Peter 3:9). Yes, evil exists -- and yes, every one of us is continually inflicted with pain and confusion over the course of our lives. And yet, if we choose to turn our trials into challenges (instead of suffering self-centeredly), our hards hips can empower us to Love perfectly and thereby attain the peace of Salvation ("Let those suffering in accordance with God's Will entrust themselves to a loving Creator, and continue to Do Good." ~ 1 Peter 4:19). One thing seems certain, God is not the force behind our tribulations, but rather the all-loving Power that supports us continually while we struggle with our life's painful obstacles ("And after you have suffered, the God of all Grace, who has Called us to his Glory, will support, strengthen and establish You." ~ 1 Peter 5:10) ...
Yes, hardships exist – there is no escaping them in this life. And yet this truth does not deny the fact that God is still forgiving of us and that He loves us anyway ("For judgment will be without Mercy to anyone who has shown no Mercy; Mercy triumphs over judgment." ~ James 2:12-13 & "Blessed be the God and Father ... the Father of mercies and God of all consolation, who consoles us all in our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are themselves afflicted" ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). God is perfectly just and, because of His innate righteousness, it is clear to all believers that anything that is unjust (or in any way not perfectly oving) does not come from God ("His works are perfect and all His ways are Just." ~ Deuteronomy 32:4). And because perfect Justice is all-loving Forgiveness (see above), it is also clear that God is not the entity inflicting us with our life's "tests" – We inflict ourselves with them! ("Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven [by God] ever y sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against [their own] Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven." ~ Matthew 12:31 & "Happy is the one who listens to Me ... For whoever finds Me finds Life and obtains favor; but those who miss Me injure themselves ..." ~ Proverbs 8:34-36). No matter how many mistakes we make and no matter how many painful consequences we reap from those mistakes, God is always there, holding us close with Love – waiting patiently for us to make better choices ("But law came, with the result that trespasses multiplied; but even where sin increased, Grace abounded all the more ..." ~ Romans 5:20) ...
Our God-allowed pain enables our Salvation
Not only does our pain not come from God, this pain-filled life that God allows us to co-create actually enables us to attain Salvation. The pain from our poor (i.e. self-centered) choices gives us the opportunity to repent. It is therefore an integral part of the process that reveals God's all-loving Grace ("It is through many persecutions that we must enter the Kingdom of God." ~ Acts 14:22) ...
Just because God is loving, in no way means that the life He has given us must be easy. Indeed, what meaning is there in a life without challenge? What bliss is there in completing tasks that have no difficulty? What Peace do we attain from doing "good works" that do not involve risk and effort?
Our discomforts serve a two-fold function on the way back to our reunion with God. First, they re-mind us every time we stray from the path of God's Will ("To keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh ... Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but He said to me: My Grace is sufficient for you, for Power is made perfect in weakness." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Second, they make our lives meaning-full by giving us the opportunity to persevere through challenge. Indeed, the more difficult a Righteous Act, the more Peace it brings us if we can actualize it ("[JC] Now which of them will Love him more? Simon answered: I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt. And Jesus said to him: You have judged rightly." ~ Luke 7:43) ...
Not only have we been given a conscious life to lead, we have also been given an adventure to enJoy (if we so choose)! We are allowed to experience our trials, that we might thereafter come to know the Peace that comes when we Love God (and life) anyway ("He disciplines us for our own Good, in order that we may share in His holiness." ~ Hebrews 12:11 & "For if we will unite with him in a death like his, we will certainly unite with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and that we might no longer be enslaved to sin ... The death he died, he died to sin; but the Life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ." ~ Romans 6:5-11). Our displays of Faith-full Love (despite immense temptations to be selfish) are a true victory; the victory of walking Jesus' Way of selfless sacrifice – a victory that conquers the temptations of the material world ("For whateve r is Born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world: our Faith." ~ 1 John 5:4) ...
Yes, we receive painful consequences from our sins, and yet those consequences are not condemned by God. Rather, He loves us enough to allow us to reap the effects of what we have sown – and allows for our Salvation anyway! ("If what has been built of the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If, however, the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; that builder will also be saved, but only as through fire." ~ 1 Corinthians 3:14-15 & "For godly grief produces repentance that leads to Salvation and brings no regret; only worldly grief produces death." ~ 2 Corinthians 7:10-11). It may seem that God is punishing you during times of trouble. When this is so, remember that it is not God's intention to ever cause you pain. Rather, it is the life God has created that is guiding you back from selfishness to the glory of selfless Love ("Do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are seemingly punished by Him; for the Lord disciplines those whom He loves, and chastises every child whom He accepts. Endure your trials, therefore, for the sake of discipline ... Discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later always yields the peaceful Fruit of Righteousness for those who heed its Guidance." ~ Hebrews 12:5-11) ...
By being given a life that tempts us to be selfish, and by being given a mind-body that makes most of its decisions based on its fear-filled desire to survive, all of us are apt to make mistakes and thereby "call" pain into our lives. Fortunately, it is this very dynamic that also gives us the opportunity to attain Salvation by persevering in Righteousness despite those temptations ("By your endurance you will re-gain your Souls." ~ Luke 21:19 & "So let us not grow weary in doing what is Right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up." ~ Galatians 6:9 & "It is through many persecutions that we must enter The Kingdom of Heaven." ~ Acts 14:22). Indeed, pain enables us to choose to endure, which in turn strengthens the very faith we need to actualize in order to attain the Peace of Salvation ("Endurance produces Character, and Character produces Faith, and Faith does not disappoint us." ~ Romans 3:4-5 & "If we are being afflicted, it is for ... consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for ... consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering." ~ 2 Corinthians 1:6) ...
We experience no unjust challenges
Most importantly, as God is innately loving and just, any trial we are experiencing is within our power to overcome ("No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13). Indeed, the more pain we are experiencing in any moment, the more powerful we must be to have called such a challenge to ourselves; a difficulty that we are guaranteed to transcend as long as we persist in Faith-full Love, both towards God and the neighbor/enemy that seems to be causing our pain ("To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and grow weary from the work of our hands. And yet, when reviled we Bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. " ~ 1 Corinthians 4:11-13 & "So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of Glory beyond all measure ..." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 & "(JC) Which one of them will Love him more?" Simon answered, "The one for whom he cancelled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." ~ Luke 7:42-43). In short, he or she who persists in Love, especially in those times when most tempted to be selfish (e.g. when in pain), will attain a full realization of the glory that comes from becoming a Child of God ("Show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of faith to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish, but rather be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the Promises." ~ Hebrews 6:12 & "Recall the earlier times when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings ... Do not, therefore, abandon your confidence; it brings great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the Will of God you may receive what is promised." ~ Hebrews 10:32+35-36 & "But those who look into he perfect law, the Law of Liberty, and persevere, being not mere hearers who forget but doers who act – they will be Blessed in the their Doing." ~ James 1:25) ...
Choose to See all Trials as Blessings
Jesus, God's primary messenger for all Christians, summed up his intentions very simply when he said: "I have said these things to you that my Joy may be In You, and that your Joy may be complete." (John 5:11). He wasn't trying to make life difficult for us, though he realized that The Way is challenging to tread. We are all allowed to see our life's "tests" as blessings, rather than as curses. Indeed, the Bible makes it clear that those who are walking Jesus' Way do just that ("Blessed are those who are persecuted fro Righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." ~ Matthew 5:10) ...
Rejoice, therefore, in your trials; knowing that they are enabling you to more powerfully serve others ("Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rather rejoice, insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you will be glad and shout for Joy when that Glory is revealed." ~ 1 Peter 4:12-13 & "Endure everything with patience, while Joy-fully Giving Thanks to the Father." ~ Colossians 1:11-12). The Way to true Happiness and Contentment – Jesus' Way of selflessness – is only as hard as we choose to make it ("We have this Treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary Power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 & "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your Souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ~ Matthew 11:28-30) ...
Salvation is guaranteed regardless
And what if we refuse? What if the challenge is "too great" (i.e. we are too cowardly) for our fear-based ego-minds to overcome? Well, our judgment will come on our deathbeds and our suffering on that day will be immense ("I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them ... The one who rejects me and does not receive my Way has a judge; on the last day the Way itself wills serve as judge." ~ John 12:47-48 – see also Hebrews 10:27), but God will still forgive us thereafter ("For by Grace you have been saved through Faith, and this not of your own doing; it is the Gift of God and not the result of works, so that no one may boast." ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 & "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." ~ John 12:32). Indeed, as was stated earlier, there is no darkness in God (1 John 1:5). As God is perfect Love (1 John 4:16) and as perfect Love knows no punishment (1 John 4:18), God is not doling out punishment or painful "guidance of any kind. Rath er, He is simply waiting for us to be finished with the amount of suffering that we are choosing to experience; waiting to welcome us back to Him with open arms ("Likewise the Spirit Helps us in our weakness ... and God, who searches the Heart, Knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes ... according to the Will of God. We Know all things work Together for Good for those who Love God, who Accept their Calling in accordance with God's Purpose." ~ Romans 8:26-28 & "The eyes of the Lord are on the Righteous, and his ears are Open to their cry ... When the Righteous cry for help, the Lord Hears, and rescues them from all their troubles." ~ Psalm 34:13-17). Indeed, we all receive pain commensurate with the ease of our selfish actions and joy commensurate with the difficulty of our Loving ones ("Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven." ~ Matthew 18:18 & "For all of us must appear before the judgm ent seat of Christ, so that each may Receive recompense for what has been Done in the body, whether Good or evil." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:10). And it is we who choose our own fate in this regard, not God. God allWays Loves us anyway! ("If we confess our sins, He who is Faithful and Just will Forgive us our sins and Cleanse us from all unrighteousness." ~ 1 John 1:9 & "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he Cares for You." ~ 1 Peter 5:7) ...
In conclusion, we can use the Bible to make God in our own image -- a vengeful ruler who "loves" us only as long as we satisfy certain requirements. Fortunately, we can also choose to see a "Bigger God" therein -- an all-Loving, all-Forgiving Father who cares for us regardless of the poor, painful decisions we repeatedly mak. The latter is a God who transcends all of Mankind's pretty definitions of "love" and "justice."
And this latter God is truly worthy of our praise ...
In essence, then which God will you choose to glorify today – the man-made God of fear and wrath or the true God of Forgiveness and Love?
May You have both the Wisdom to make this choice wisely and the Courage to act accordingly ...
"And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the Glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image – from one degree of Glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Holy Spirit." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18
(originally written July 16, 2000)
I hear you coming up the steps as you stride into my world. Warm, sparkly Love-beams play your puppeteer and seem to swing you down to me; your big smile showering me with Happiness. Holding you so close; filling us with the same light that shines from you and brightens my shadows . My smile stops our clocks internal ...
... and another meaning is ladelled smoothly onto our "Now."
We dance the careful dance of reunification; a quick glance to see if we are still the same Father and Son who Loved each other so pure and immense just the day before. "Hmmm -- same hair, same smile, same smell, same voice -- Yep, you're the same guy. Glad you're back -- Let's play a while. Turn the radio on and we can cut a rug or two. After that let's try some hide & seek. Don't worry, I'll always let you find me, just like I know you'll always be there to be found."
Giggling with gravity when you throw me back towards the heavens from whence I came. Sighing pure contentment when you catch me with hands gnarly-strong yet somehow so soft...
.. and we each re-member the power of Gentleness.
I can see your Heart, a freshly opened flower; vulnerable and transparent as you dangle high from the pinnacle of pure caring. I can Feel your fears and your wounds as well. Where did they come from, those pains? No matter, as your Love is brighter than their darkness and glows through that haze; bathing me in the raw safety of "Father." I open myself to you too and Give you a slow return to the Beauty of fresh-born Bliss ...
... and we share our moment freely -- and in that sharing, Life Is Good.
Read to me please, but let me turn the pages. I might start at the back and work my way to the Beginning -- or maybe I'll skip around a bit. Who knows? B the way, don't worry too much about those word-things. Let's tap into the wonders of form and color and contrast and symbol instead -- Now We're Talking!
Into the park to visit my friends, the trees. More than mere "plants"; the trees are so alive - they Feel us nearby and wish us well; smiling down upon us while they toss and catch the winds. So graceful and smoothly they move! They make me laugh, bending without worry to the wills and whims of the Universe ...
... and while doing so, they demonstrate true Strength.
It's Good to lay my hands on rocks covered with moss and boulders etched by time's gentle sculpting – honed a few seconds short of forever. It's like re-connecting with every stone that ever was. Soaking up pure Peace under the "Energy-Domes" created by the swooping branches of mature Birches and Alders and Willows -- the air is so shimmery-sweet in here! They form the strongest of citadels; invisible and free from the constraints of "time" and "space" ...
... and we breathe deeply together; giving thanks for that moment.
"Strangers" here are seen with pure Joy: as chances to make new friends and learn somethings new. "Hey friend, how about we share your bread crumbs and feed these birds together? Don't worry, the big guy is my Dad - He Loves Me."
You know, flies and mosquitoes are full of just as much wonder as butterflies. Maybe they're not as color-full, but their aerial ballet is truly amazing -- and when they land on my nose they tickle me so. I like that and I laugh, and then you echo my Joy as we look at each other and smile.
Feeling truly at home with you here. I need no chair – as I cuddle best in your lap. And we need no lamps – as the Sun and the Moon light our way. There are no walls to restrict us. We are One with Mother Earth today and it just Feels Right ...
... and we are re-minded that Home is always where we already are; right here and right now.
I often hear you thank Nature for Its beauty and you encourage me to do the same - so I think I will: Thank you, Cosmos, especially for all those sunbeams that came from behind the rain-clouds just as we got a chill and thought of winter. Thank you for the rainbows spun so brilliantly in the sun-lit vortex of that fountain. Thank you for the kaleidoscope of clouds that waved gently to us while they portrayed an epic tale of heroes and lovers and battles that mirror those in which you "grown-ups" so needlessly struggle. Why do your adult brows furrow so? Why are you all so often concerned and serious? Mysteries to me in this beautiful moment as I let the clouds "struggle" for me and laugh with them ...
... and we re-member what a funny thing this Life truly is!
And what is this "poverty" of which you sometimes speak? Another mystery to me in this beautiful place. Aren't there balls to be kicked and people to be held and dances to be wiggled and waterfalls in which to splash in your world too? Aren't flowers so much more worthy of our attention and energy and Love? So soft-spongy, those flowers (some are even pretty tasty!). Here, Daddy, this one's for you ...
... and now you're as Wealthy like me.
Come on, roll in the dirt and give the Earth a back-rub with me. She could use a little lovin'. And while we're at it, I'm going to reach over and grab you and hold you close and show you how much I Love You. I don't have a reason to do so ...
... but do we really need one?
We're walking home now and I'm just about to drift off to meet up with some Soulmates in dreamland. But before I go, I look up at you and smile to thank you again for the great day. I had lots of fun and I Love You. Maybe we can do it all again sometime soon. Until then, I'll just go to sleep and re-dream it all to show all my Spirit-Friends still waiting to arrive just how much Love is still here to be felt and given and shared ...
... and in that Loving and Feeling and Sharing,
in that one pure Moment together, our Life Is truly Good.
A call for each of us to become an active Force for Good in the world.
In this day and age, when war dominates our headlines and fear taints the majesty of our Moments, there is a need to re-member some Good News: that we are all still Power-full - that we are all still Potent - that we are all still able, even in the midst of our deepest traumas, to make Peace a Reality ...
Each of us is intimately familiar with the ways that do not bring Peace ... We have seen them and experienced them. We have even championed them as a species for over ten thousand years. We have tried repeatedly to use war to make peace, to use punishment to enforce "proper behavior", to use guilt and shame to engender Love, and to engage self-criticism in order to spur our "self-improvement." The fruits of those actions are all too evident: war still thrives, corruption still runs rampant, conflict still infects our relationships and disappointment still regularly creeps into our minds. In short, for many of us personal Contentment seems as distant as ever ...
And yet, for some reason, we as a collective continue to employ the same ineffective methods in the attempt to attain our Noble Dreams. We still somehow believe that "two wrongs" will somehow make Life "right." We still attempt to enforce peace with war. We still condemn our political opponents with public humiliation. We still sternly criticize those who do not behave as we wish they would. We still believe that we each need external assistance to "grow" and thereby "be happy" ...
And yet, time has shown us again and again that we cannot "perfect" these beliefs and somehow attain Success. It is not our implementation of these ideals that is defective, but rather the methods themselves. War cannot ever bring Peace. Condemnation cannot ever bring Harmony. Self-degradation cannot ever bring emPowerment ...
IT IS NOW TIME FOR A CHANGE!
Internationally, we must recognize that only the Peace of Forgiveness brings Peace. Aggressors can only be halted by pre-empting their aggression with Caring ...
Domestically we must realize that only the Justice of Forgiveness brings Justice. The corrupt and the "criminal" can only be reformed by pre-empting their dishonesties with Caring ...
Communally we must understand that only the Love of Forgiveness brings Love. Persecutors can only be Awakened by responding to their callousness with Caring ...
Personally we must comprehend that only the Joy of Forgiveness brings Joy. Our own dis-ease can only be Healed by setting our personal goals aside and Caring for others - by setting aside our own concerns and choosing instead to ease the burdens of others in their moments of pain ...
So take this Moment and vow to go boldly forth today. Where we previously dropped bombs and fired guns, let us send flowers and food. Where we previously protested against war, let us now stand courageously as Pro-Peace. Where we previously lambasted our opponents, let us openly have respect, if not at least Compassion, for their differing opinions. Where we previously condemned corruption, let us now celebrate and visualize the innate potential of all leaders to alter their course and behave with Nobility. Where we previously gossiped about our "enemies", let us now reach out to them with Compassion. Where we previously criticized those behaving "improperly", let us now show them with our unconditional Caring how to Be differently. Where we previously searched outside our selves for "a better way", let us now realize that we have all that we need within us to be Happy. Where we previously repudiated ourselves as "sinners", let us now Awaken to the Truth: that we are the epitome of perfection - a perfection that can be realized in any Moment we so choose ...
It is time to transcend our primitive past and build a Noble Present. It all begins with this Moment and this Moment's choice. Will you continue to focus on yourself at the expense of others, or will you - at least for this one instant - set aside your fears and desires and choose to Serve the greater Good. What you do does not matter -- It matters only that you Do so...
There is not way to Peace; Peace is The Way ... Be Peace-full!
There is no way to Justice; Justice is The Way ... Be Forgiving!
There is no way to Harmony; Harmony is The Way ... Be Kind!
There is no way to Happiness; Happiness is The Way ... Be Joyous!
The time has come for all of us to stop worshipping our heroes - and to start emulating them!!!
So go boldly forth in Peace and Be the change you wish to See in the world ...