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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Building Spiritual Muscle

In my post from June 21, My Two-by-Four Experience, I shared some insights I gained from living with my knee injury. Since then, I have been gifted with Reiki and other healing modality treatments, nutritional supplements, and prayers from many loving and caring people. I am happy to report that my knee is 85% healed, on the way to 100%. I am moving around much more freely and without pain. I experience only the occasional twinge. A heartfelt ‘THANK YOU’ to everyone who has contributed to my healing and continues to do so.

I also shared in that post that I am working with a friend, Jon, who is a personal trainer. I hesitate to use that term to describe him, because he is much more than that. He is a facilitator of healing through encouragement, education and gentle, but firm facilitation of physical exercises. While others have helped to support my healing through energy work which I can simply relax and enjoy, Jon’s healing techniques invite me to engage in the process through physical action. Working with Jon is helping me to improve muscle strength and increase my awareness of the body’s amazing wisdom.

I have discovered in working with Jon that the process of increasing physical body strength is in many ways analogous to the process of increasing spiritual strength.

I have been going to the gym and exercising several times a week fairly regularly for many years. I worked with a personal trainer many years ago, and learned how to do exercises intended to strengthen specific muscles. While I have experienced some benefit of using those techniques, I have not realized the level of results that I would enjoy. Even so, I have continued to do the same exercises in the same manner.

Until I experienced an injury and was inspired to learn new ways to strengthen my leg muscles to help support and aid in my healing, it didn’t occur to me to question what I had learned.

The same is frequently true in our spiritual journeys. We often continue to engage in habitual ways of approaching life until a traumatic experience, a grave loss, or some other life event that stimulates emotional pain and suffering, or sometimes even exhilaration, motivates us to seek new ways of strengthening our spiritual understanding and growth. We look for new ways to respond to life when we realize that our learned habitual ways no longer serve us.

Additionally, even after learning from Jon new ways of engaging and strengthening muscles and even after experiencing results, still I resisted setting aside time to do them. How many of us learn tools such as prayer, meditation, denials and affirmations, practice them for a time, realize some benefits and then decide that we don’t have time to do them regularly? Like building our physical muscles, strengthening our spiritual muscles requires commitment and practice.

Properly performing the movements that Jon is teaching me also requires clear intention and a great deal of concentrated attention. Staying engaged in the process while activating a specific muscle or group of muscles is key to strengthening them. However, it is equally important not to push beyond the body’s limits. I have learned that the adage, “no pain, no gain” is hogwash. Further, it does not serve overall physical, mental or emotional well-being. Building the strength and endurance of the physical body takes place gradually with sustained practice.

The same is true for building our spiritual strength. It is important for us to be intentional, dedicated and focused in our spiritual practices. Yet, it is vital that we do not push ourselves beyond the limits of our willingness or the capacity of our mental, emotional or physical endurance. It is good to be patient with ourselves while continuing to move forward in our growth. We will, through continued conscious practice, realize the desired results.

As I shared in my earlier post, I don’t subscribe to the idea that God/Universe/Source hits us over the head with a “cosmic two-by-four” to help us learn a lesson. I believe we can choose to learn from everything and everyone in our lives. I am certainly learning more about myself and about my approach to life as I move through this healing journey. My hope and my prayer is that I will take these lessons to heart and apply them in my life. I also hope that by sharing my lessons, I can help you as you move through whatever life brings your way.

Join us on Sunday at 10:00 at Unity Spiritual Center Denver as I delve a little deeper into my learning with my lesson “Building Spiritual Muscle” You are welcome here!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Seeking God

In my lesson this past Sunday at Unity Spiritual Center Denver, I opened by sharing the story about a little boy who goes in search of God and experiences God in his connection with a woman he meets on a park bench. They share smiles and laughter while eating Twinkies and drinking root beer. I have included a link below to a video on YouTube that depicts the story with a slightly different telling. You may also listen to the recording of my lesson here.

In my post on July 5, I invited and encouraged us to take some time to reexamine our concept of God. I shared that I had set an intention for myself to do that as well. I am pleased to report that I did take some time while on vacation in the mountains to reflect upon my concept of God.

I hesitate to admit this in a public forum, but in my quiet contemplation time, I realized that my encouragement for you to reexamine your concept of God was so that you could “wake up” and come to share my concept of God. I know! What arrogance!

When I realized that I have been holding to concepts of God that I have taken on and thoughts about God that have become my “religion,” I laughed and cried. I laughed at the absurdity of thinking that I can possibly know all there is to know about the Infinite. I cried at the sweetness and freedom I felt as I released my need to think I know.

Through my laughter and tears, I surrendered and I cried out, “God/Universe/Infinite Mind/Spirit reveal yourself to me. Show me. Tell me. Speak to me.” And, in the silence I heard,

I am every thought you think.
I am every breath you take.
I am every beat of your heart.
I am the life that lives as you.
I am the All that lives as all you see.
I am the All that lives as all you do not see.
I am the tree.
I am the beetle that feeds on the tree.
I am the mountain.
I am the fire.
I am the bird.
I am the mosquito.
I am the wind.
I am the wave.

I was also reminded of the following quotes.

“There is no spot where God is not.” – Origin unknown

“God is an infinite circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” – Attributed to Voltaire

“He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:17

“Where can I go from your spirit?
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
    and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light around me become night,”
 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.” – Psalm 139: 7-12

In my listening, I was reminded that there is no duality in God. Duality only exists in a mind that believes it is separate, a mind that judges. A mind that believes in duality is a mind that suffers.

All of this was a calm and gentle reminder that God is Omnipresence. There is nothing that and no one who can be excluded from the Divine.

Each aspect of God vibrates at a unique frequency, and because we are given the gift of freewill, we can choose to align with any aspect in every moment. We are so free that we can even choose bondage to old outdated ideas and concepts about God, concepts that may limit our experience of God, ourselves, each other and the world around us.

We also have the freedom and power to release ourselves from that bondage and open to a new, empowering, and evolving understanding about God, our relationship to God, to each other and to all creation.

Over the next few weeks, I will share in this forum and in my Sunday lessons some of the beliefs I have held about God and the new revelations that have arisen and are now arising as I continue exploring God for myself. I am calling this series, “Myth Busters.” 

My first lesson in the series is “Myth – God is in control.” Did that trigger anyone? I encourage you to let it go and be open to hearing your own expanded concept of God, from God, as we explore and bust this myth. Join us on Sunday at 10:00.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Where Do I Meet God?

In last week’s post I invited you to share your reflections on the phrase, “God meets you where you are.” I appreciate those of you who shared your thoughts, whether in writing or in person.

I recall hearing this said many times when I was in the Baptist church. I am willing to be wrong, but I believe that it was the ministers’ attempt to convey the message that regardless of how “bad” we are and no matter how awful our sins are, God will forgive us and save us if we ask. Of course, God “meeting you where you are” was also dependent upon knowing that God will do that for us only if we accepted that his only son, Jesus, paid the price for our sins on the cross.

I fully accepted and embraced that idea at a time in my life when I needed it. When I bought into the notions that I was born a “sinner,” separate from God, and in need of redemption through the blood sacrifice of Jesus, giving my life to Jesus and being “saved” brought a sense of comfort and peace. 

The New Thought teachings of Ernest Holmes, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, H. Emilie Cady, Thomas Troward, and many others, helped me to come to a different understanding of ‘God’ and embrace a metaphysical and metaphorical perspective on Jesus’ life and death. I celebrate and am eternally grateful for my learning and growth.

While I no longer need that ‘God,’ I understand that there are literally billions of people around the world who adhere to the concept of a God of reward and punishment and belief in Jesus as the pathway to the final reward of heaven. I mourn that so many have been taught to believe that they are innately unworthy and separate from God. However, as long as they hold those beliefs, they need that ‘God,’ and their ‘God’ meets them where they are in their consciousness. It has taken time and inner work, but I have learned to hold them with great love, honor and respect.

During my vacation last week in the mountains, I took time to do my own reflection on “God meets you where you are.” It may be in reaction to my earlier associations with the phrase, but I have chosen to revise it to, “I meet God where I am.” Saying it in that way is more empowering and invites me to acknowledge and accept my responsibility.

I understand ‘God’ as the eternal, unchanging Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnipotence and Omni-action that is the All in and as all. God is the Presence that is everywhere present in the eternal now.

While God does not change, my conscious awareness of God does change. God as Infinite Intelligence, Divine Order, Unconditional Love, Indescribable Beauty, Immeasurable Abundance and Effervescent Life is the One in which and as which we “live and move and have our being.” It is also that which lives and moves and has Its being as each of us, as well as all that we can perceive and all that we have yet to perceive.  

God is where I am. God is what I am. God is who I am. God is the ‘I AM’ that I am.

The All-ness of God is available and accessible to me and to each of us in any moment that we open ourselves to It. We need only choose by aligning our thoughts, attuning the vibration of our feelings, and opening ourselves to the revelation of the Presence. In that way, we meet God right where we are. 

When I believed that I was an unworthy sinner, I met God from that consciousness, and God revealed Itself to me in the form of Jesus as savior.

Last week, while in the mountains, I had the opportunity to officiate a wedding at the top of a mountain in Keystone, CO. Getting to the wedding site required two gondola rides up to a height of 11,600 feet. The views were breathtaking. Since I did not stay for the party following the ceremony, I was alone in the gondola on the ride back down the mountain. In my solitude, I sat floating high above the trees surrounded by the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. In those moments, I met God from a consciousness of awe, appreciation and openness, and God revealed Itself to me through the beauty of nature in which I was enfolded.

I felt love, peace and joy so profound that words cannot begin to capture it. I met God where I was in body, mind and spirit. 

Where we are in consciousness determines our experience of God. The question we get to ask ourselves is “Where Do I Meet God?”

Join us on Sunday for our service at 10:00 as we explore this question further.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Who or What is 'God?'

As I stated in my post last week, I am on vacation this week. Rather than write a new post, I have chosen to look through some of my past ones and re-post one that speaks to where I am in my journey today. At the end of this post, I encourage us all to “reexamine our view of God.” I am taking my own advice.

I am working on a new post and a new Sunday lesson or lessons. The working title is God Meets You Where You Are. I recall hearing that phrase often when I was in the Baptist church. I was not sure then what message the minster was attempting to convey. Although I am still not completely sure, I have my suspicions.

I would love to hear from you. When you hear the phrase, “God meets you where you are,” what comes up for you. Do you think it’s true? If not, why? If so, why?

I hope the following post from August 2015 will stir some thoughts and conversation.


When we were discussing Unity beliefs in our New Members class this past Saturday, we read the following definition of ‘God’ which is included in our information packet.

God is the source of all. There is no other enduring power. God is benevolent and present everywhere.

One of our very astute potential new members pointed out that for us to say “God is benevolent” implies duality. She suggested that when we say that God is benevolent, we are assigning God qualities that we associate as “good” compared to those we might deem “bad.” Her point was that God is neither good nor bad, nor is God benevolent or malevolent: God is.

In a conversation earlier this week, I was asked how I define ‘God.’ I don’t recall the exact words I used, but I did my best to explain that I think of ‘God’ as the Divine Life that is the Source of all or the Life Energy that imbues all creation. In hindsight, I recognize that my effort to define ‘God’ was, at best, limited and futile. Anytime we attempt to define ‘God’ we limit our experience of ‘God.’ God is not this or that: God is.

Any attempt to define the ineffable is by definition impossible. However, while saying simply “God is” best captures the essence of my concept of ‘God,’ I think it is helpful, and perhaps necessary, for us to explore what we believe and teach about ‘God’ because it helps us as we communicate with others.

Each of us defines ‘God’ in our own way, and our concept of ‘God’ greatly impacts every area of our lives, at times enriching it, and at other times confounding it. To some, ‘God’ as a concept can provide comfort and peace of mind in times of need. To others, ‘God’ can also create much suffering. ‘God’ can stimulate a great deal of pain and guilt for one who has learned that God judges and punishes. 

Over the past few years I have participated in discussions about ‘God’ and the use of the word ‘God’ in Unity. I have heard, “I do not believe in God: I am an atheist.”  Others have said, “I am agnostic: I do not believe that any person can know the cause of reality without firsthand experience; therefore, there is no way to know if ‘God’ exists.”  Still others question, “If we are not talking about the big guy up in heaven somewhere that is controlling everything, the God of most Christians’ understanding, and we have a more evolved understanding of what it is, why do we still use the word ‘God’: Why not use ‘Life’ or some other word?” 

While it is just a word and as with all words, is used to represent a concept, the word ‘God’ is imbued with centuries of meaning, not all of it in alignment with what we teach in Unity. When one, such as I, has been indoctrinated in a religion that uses ‘God’ to judge, punish and abuse, he or she often has a mental and emotional imprinting of the word that is not conducive to feeling centered or inspired when hearing ‘God’ spoken in the spiritual community. 

There was a time in the not so distant past when I chose not to use the word ‘God’ and was often disturbed when I heard others use it, especially those in Unity or other New Thought communities.  And, while I now use the word freely, I completely understand that it can be disconcerting and even confounding for some. I am sure it can be for them much like it is for me when I attend a traditional Christian church service; I find myself reinterpreting nearly everything that the minister says, as well as all the hymn lyrics. It can be tiring and trying.

When I use the word ‘God’ today I am certainly not referring to the God of my childhood, a man with a white beard and white robes sitting up in heaven somewhere judging me and everyone else and most likely damning me to eternity in hell because I do not measure up to his criteria for admittance to heaven. 

When I say ‘God’ I am not referring to a being or beings. I am, instead, to the best of my ability giving voice to that which is ineffable. I believe H. Emilie Cady said it best in her book, Lessons in Truth.

“God is the name we give to that unchangeable, inexorable principle at the source of all existence. To the individual consciousness God takes on personality, but as the creative underlying cause of all things, [God] is principle, impersonal; as expressed in each individual, [God] becomes personal to that one--a personal, loving, all-forgiving Father-Mother. All that we can ever need or desire is the infinite Father-Principle, the great reservoir of unexpressed good.”

God is. God is “no thing,” yet is All. God is the Essence of all that is real. As Unity co-founder, Charles Fillmore stated, “God is the eternal verity of the universe and humankind.”

I invite us, as Rev. Ellen Debenport encourages in The Five Principles, to “reexamine our view of God at least once per decade.” God does not change; God is and was and every more shall be the same. However, we change and so do our perspectives. Rather than dismissing the concept of ‘God’ altogether or putting 'God' in a box, perhaps we can allow our concept of ‘God’ to evolve and open us to an even greater experience.

Please plan to attend our 10:00 service on Sunday, July 8, as we welcome Avital Miller as our guest speaker. She will also facilitate a workshop beginning at 12:00. Avital is the author of Healing Happens: Stories of Healing Against All Odds. She will share her personal story of healing, and her interactive workshop will instruct you in ways to claim your own healing. Register Now!