Sunday Everyday

Left Brained Religion

If we truly see the church as a relevant vehicle to bring life to society we must ask this important question.

‘Has the teaching and practice of religion served as a vehicle of unifying or separation?’.

The next question we must ask is this.  “Does our practice of religion line up with the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

If we align ourselves with the teaching of Jesus then we must have a religion that re-unites and re-ties us to each other and to creation.  The emphasis of the New Testament is love of God and love of neighbour.   Christ came to bring unity between God and humanity.  My fear is that religion today in its many forms is known more for what it is ‘against’ and what it ‘cuts off’ than as a unifying force in the world.  I believe this is because the Church, or religion as we know it today, has been influenced and formed by three things.

1:  Dualism

2:  Left Brain Thinking

3:  Patriarchy

Dualism

Since mid fifth century BC  dualism has been an overarching philosophy of humanity.  Basically this is the belief that there are two opposing forces,  good and evil.  This is first recorded in Egyptian Religious beliefs by the contrast of the gods Set (disorder, death) and Osiris (order, life).   There is a force at work in the world both secular and religious and it is called dualism.   Early Christian dualism is based on Platonic Dualism where God is good and Satan is evil.  Personal Dualism separates body and soul.  The Puritanism era  in the 17th century sought to purify the church and  told us that sex and sexuality and the body was evil and that is where we get most of our theology from today in many conservative churches.  Sex or the flesh is evil and only spirituality and God is good.

This is in stark contrast to New Testament Christianity which believes that all things are created by God and that his creation is good.  We are loved, we are accepted and there is no shame.  A gospel that promotes community and acceptance.  We don’t have to look far to see that even in the godhead, there are three in one. JCGmO4h The entire gospel is one of unity and peace.  Not separation and disconnection.

Of course it is dualism that dictates most religious responses today.  If it is deemed not ‘of’ God then it must be evil.  There is only black and white, in and out, you are either going up or down.  You can see then the trouble with our deeply engrained and inherited philosophies and how christians interpret the bible through this lens.

To complicate things even further, since the death of Christ,  religious systems have been  built according to the left hemispheres of our brain.   Let me explain.

Left Brain Thinking

The human mind is a very complex thing. It can however be divided into two main parts, which correspond to the two sides of the brain. The two sides or hemispheres are imaginatively called the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere. These two sides of the brain think in two different ways.

The left side of the brain thinks in logical, rational ways. This is what some people call our intellect. It breaks problems down into parts (called reductionism) and seeks to solve problems by examining the parts. It thinks in black and white terms, right and wrong, good and bad (called dualism). Left-brain thinking is called rational thinking (this is also known as linear thinking).

The right side of the brain thinks intuitively, in wholes, in systems (called holism). It thinks creatively, laterally, imaginatively. Right-brain thinking is called intuitive thinking (also known as non-linear thinking) and it is not logical (Ref)

The right brain sees how things connect and unify. The left brain separates realities into air-tight compartments/categories/pigeon-holes (Ref)

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It is important to realise that the ancient Hebrew language and community operated out of right brain thinking.  The Hebrew Bible, with its emphasis on personal relationships — the love of God, neighbour and stranger — is a right-brain work.  Yet today it is interpreted by left brain thinkers therefore the context and meaning of the original texts are often warped and misinterpreted (Ref).

Enter the Greek and Roman Empires and their influence on Christianity and the Hebrew texts.  Ancient Greece gave the world its first science and philosophy, two supremely left-brain activities. Equally, we can see why the thought-world of Ancient Israel, with its integrative vision of monotheism, was so different.

Most of the Old Testament was written in Ancient Hebrew. Like most early scripts, Ancient Hebrew was written like Hebrew and Arabic are today—without vowels and written from right to left. It is a right brain language, says Sacks, because to understand the meaning of any word, “you have to understand the total context in which it occurs.”

It was then translated into Greek which was the worlds first left brain language.

Rabbi Sacks explains further:

‘We can go farther still and speculate how Christianity became a synthesis of the two. Its founder was Jewish and steeped in the religious values of Judaism. But the first Christian texts were written and read in Greek. The result was a set of right-brain ideas transcribed into a left-brain alphabet and culture. Out of that creative tension, Western civilisation was born.

Western society over the last thousand years has further added to this by preferring left brain thinking.  It has elevated left brain activities to the neglect of right brain thinking.

Rationality and verbally centered mental processes often asscoiated with masculinity are left brain activities.  These have been elevated whilst at the same time, right brain thinking which is intuitive, imaginative and holistic thinking is associated with feminine modes and processes and has been devalued and looked at condecendingly.  This is patriarchy.

Patriarchy

Patriarchy is a system where men hold the power and domination.  This has been the system of the Church since its earliest days.  Women and right brain thinking is seen as a negative, weak and emotional beings.  Thus we get women as the weaker vessel.  Women are too emotional, women need to submit etc, etc,.  Dualist thinking has added to this by subscribing to the belief that women are primarily vessels of sexuality.  They are then ‘sexualised’, they are more evil, like Eve they are not to be trusted.

Our society has consistently favoured masculine values and attitudes and has neglected it’s feminine counterparts.

“We have favoured self assertion over integration, analysis over synthesis, rational knowledge over intuitive wisdom science over religion, competiion over cooperation, expansion over conservation (F.Capra).

Strangely left and brain functions are not gender oriented.  In fact the most healthy people have a good balance of both.  The two sides working together harmoniously would be the unification of science and religion, ‘sacred and secular’, and dare I say it to the atheists amongst us, the unity between God and humanity, both of which are so rigidly (and artificially) separated in our world (Ref).

The human mind is the product of both hemispheres. If the connections between them are broken, the result is dysfunction of the personality. We need both: the analytical left brain that allows us to take things apart to see how they work, and the integrative right brain that puts things together to see what they mean. Rabbi Stacks

The same is true for religious systems or churches.  If the connections between right and left brain activities are broken the result is a dysfunction of the system.

The teaching of Jesus tells us that we are all created equal.  There is no male, no female.  He says that our Christianity will be known by our love, not by our left brain thinking or male superiority nor by our rule book or how many hoops we jump through.  Jesus came to free us from oppressive and authoritarian processes, to bring freedom to those who are captive and to bring good news.

The ancient Hebrews were big picture thinkers.  They operated out of holistic thinking whereas left brain thinking compartmentalises and  works with small components.  This has a huge bearing on how the bible is to be understood (Ref).  On how the gospel is to be interpreted.  We must not use the bible to fit our own narrow version of God.

So I finish with the question that I asked at the beginning:

‘Has the teaching and practice of religion served as a vehicle of unifying or separation?’.

A little more on left and right brain thinking that Mercedes Benz used in their advertising campaign:

Left brain: I am the left brain. I am a scientist. A mathematician. I love the familiar. I categorize. I am accurate. Linear. Analytical. Strategic. I am practical. Always in control. A master of words and language. Realistic. I calculate equations and play with numbers. I am order. I am logic. I know exactly who I am.

Right brain: I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feat. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.

References:

F capra, the Tao of Physics, 1991, edition, 15.

https://patrickcox.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/a-right-brain-religion-translated-into-a-left-brain-language/

Rabbi Sacks:  http://www.rabbisacks.org/right-hemisphere-brain-knits-tgthr/

Dr Carol Head:  https://drcarolhead.com.au/tag/left-hemisphere/

 

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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The Power of Laughter

The Power of Laughter by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

Life may be grave but it doesn’t have to be serious.

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
Mark Twain

There is a definite link between laughing and our physical and mental health.  Laughter is a potent medicine.  As someone who has lived with chronic trauma I can honestly say that a well-developed sense of humour has been a major key to my survival.  This is a legacy that I developed from my birth family and that I have nourished in my adult friendships and relationships.  I love to laugh.   In fact my children’s nickname for me is ‘boomer’.  Yes my laugh can be pretty loud at times as all of my friends will confirm.

About the only thing I don’t find funny is poo and fart jokes, in fact anything to do with bodily functions I just can’t deal.  Contrary to my 5 boys and just about every man who I know who find the emissions from their bodies endlessly funny.

Laughing is the best way that I know to release tension, it reduces stress and brings a sense of perspective.  I have found that a sense of humor is an important strength for coping with life. Freud, of course, had an eloquent speculation on this paradox. In his 1928 investigation into humor, Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious, Freud argued that laughter was a coping mechanism, a way of dealing with the unspeakable pain of everyday life.

My mother’s family all survived the great depression after WW2 on very large doses of funny.  They lived in ‘struggle town’ but were rich with humour.  A legacy that has been passed down to all of us.   Our get togethers are a constant stream of one liners, pranks, hilarious stories and outrageous giggling.   We have all used laughter as a coping strategy for the traumas of life.

This is a photo of my mother, in pink, my sister and my aunt.  We are celebrating my mothers 82nd birthday for High Tea at the Windsor.  They thought that they were hilarious.  I can’t even remember what was so funny – it wouldn’t take much.  Can I just add that none of them drink alcohol.  This is just a typical day out. (eye roll)

A cheerful heart really is as  good as medicine (Proverbs 17:22).  There are so many benefits to having a good laugh.  I can look back on my darkest days and confidently say that finding the humour in the situation was the only thing that got me through.  In fact there is a very fine line between madness and hilarity at times.  I choose hilarity.

Very funny, extremely amusing, hysterically funny, hysterical, uproarious, riotous: would all be amongst my favourite pastimes.  The funnier the better.

When I read this article in psych central I realised that I have an addiction to funny as do most of my family and friends.  We are all hanging out for the next hit of dopamine.

“A study published in the December 4, 2003 issue of Neuron reported that humor has similar effects on the brain as drug-induced euphoria. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, the researchers measured brain activity in 16 adults viewing funny versus non-funny cartoons. The brain scans indicated that humor not only stimulated the language processing centers of the brain, but also stimulated the reward centers, leading to the release of dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of the pleasure-reward system”.

Here are some of the benefits of laughter:

Laughter is good for relationships: Laughter establishes — or restores — a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people, In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together.

Some more tips below taken from an article in the Help Guide:  Laughter is the Best Medicine.

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Cardiologist Dr. Miller offers a simple prescription that won’t bankrupt you and could save your life. “Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system,” he says.

Laughter burns calories. OK, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn about 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.

Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

Theorist Martin Armstrong, who wrote about the function of laughter in society, may have said it best when he wrote:

“For a few moments, under the spell of laughter, the whole man is completely and gloriously alive: body, mind and soul vibrate in unison… the mind flings open its doors and windows… its foul and secret places are ventilated and sweetened.”

Top-50-Funniest-Memes-Collection

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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Easter Saturday

Easter Saturday.    I know I’m late with this post.  The eggs have been gathered, the camp site packed up, the hot cross buns toasted and tasted.  We’ve sung our Easter Hymns and all the really good Easter blogs were published last week.  Easter is finished until next year.  But, I’ve been struggling with Easter all weekend.  I always do.  I find it difficult to relate to the rituals and the reciting.  All the words that I know by heart.  I feel more at home thinking about  Easter Saturday than ‘Crucifixion Friday’ or ‘Resurrection Sunday’.  I live in Easter Saturday most of the time to be honest, which is why I find it difficult to celebrate Easter once a year.

My husband thinks I unnecessarily complicate things.

Maybe I do.  Yeah I do..

I get a little nervous with all the religious rhetoric.   My surrogate mother used to always say to me “Lisa, Y is a crooked letter that cannot be straightened”.  (I used to ask why a lot).      

When I think of Easter I think of the disciples, the ones that have been left behind.  Imagine their distress.  They didn’t know the end of the story.  They had no idea that Christ would return from the dead.  All they knew was the man that they had lived with, done life with, hoped in and trusted in was gone.  They were traumatised.  They had watched him brutalised, tortured and killed.  Then he died.

He was their great hope.  He was the one who would save them all from the oppression of the religious leaders and the roman empire.  How could this possibly happen now that he was dead?  Imagine their disillusion, the dissapointment and pain.   Friday night, Saturday and Saturday night would have felt like forever.    This is what I identify with the most.  This is where we live now.  In the ‘in-between’ space.  The now and not yet.  We live with the paradox of life and death.  The promise of a new way to live and a new life within the parameters of a broken, frightened and hurting world.

 

This is a Drama Script that I wrote a decade ago on this very subject.  It depicts the thoughts of three characters, all struggling with this in-between space.  I hope that it resonates with you.

Easter Saturday

by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

 

Three actors: three monologues weaving in and out of each other.  

Grace is reflecting on Holy Saturday and what it means for today. 

Hayley has cut off all communication with her brother due to his drug and alcohol addiction and the effects that it’s had on the family.  She is wrestling with forgiveness. 

Lee is an exhausted single mum struggling with the fact that she never feels like she is good enough.  

Grace: It’s Easter, well to be exact its Holy Saturday.

Lee: A family time.

Hayley: Easter reminds me of Christmas.  It’s when you are obligated to be with family even if you don’t like them.

Grace: It’s Easter Saturday.  The in-between day. We don’t really talk much about Easter Saturday.  I know he died for me yesterday and that he’s coming back tomorrow but what about today.  Holy Saturday, is where we are suspended between loss and hope, death and resurrection, mourning and new life.

Lee: I should want to be with my family, and I do, but I’m so tired.  I never get time for myself, I never get to rest; I’m always doing everything for my family.

Grace: Easter Saturday.  A day of silence.  A day of mourning.  A day of confusion.

Hayley: Blahh to family.    I’m angry.  I don’t want to be with them or talk to them, I’m sick of talking, it doesn’t change anything.  Sick of pretending that nothing is wrong.

Lee: I’m exhausted; I can’t stand the thought of another family function. The week has been long, its burden and stresses never ending.

Here I am again, another week, without strength.  Without any answers.  (Pause)  I’m scared, I feel alone.  I pray to God, I wait, but He is silent.  I live in a no mans land between questions and answers.  Without strength, without rest.

Where is God?

Grace: Where is God?

He may be silent but he is not absent.  He is present in his silence.  He is present in my pain; he is here. (Kneeling down).

Hayley: Where is God?

He’s not interested.  My mum believes in God and where does it get her.  My brother, (emphasis on brother), huh… can you believe it?  She prays for him.  My brother, who robs her for drug money, who stole our savings, and sold our furniture.  She still prays for him… she still believes… she still believes for him.

Lee: I’m a good person, I pay my bills. I work two jobs to provide for my kids. I don’t speed, I don’t swear, I don’t raise my voice.  I go to church, I do everything that’s expected of me and more, but it’s never enough.

How good is good enough?

Who draws the line in the sand and says, “Okay, you know what, you have reached the line.   Whoop….. Congratulations, you are now good enough.”

Where is God when you feel like you’re just not good enough?

Grace: Where is God?

He is here, He is right here in the muck, in the mess, in the pain, in the anger.  Quietly sitting beside me, comforting me, holding me.  God may be silent but I know that he will speak soon.  I continue to believe, to pray.  Many of my prayers will go unanswered, but not for long.

Hayley: Why does she waste her time praying for him? From this day on, he is no brother of mine.  I told her “You can’t trust him mum, he will always let you down and he is a lost cause”

You know what she said to me?  She said,

“What gives you the privilege to think that you are better than him. I taught you better than that.  I taught you to love”.

You know what I said? “Mum, there’s nothing left to love”.

She’s never on my side, never.   This is what she says to me.  “Have you cried for your brother today?   Not for yourself, not for the money we’ve lost and not for me?  Have you cried for him, for what he’s going through?

Honey, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most?  When they are good and perfect and measure up to all of your standards?   That’s not the time at all. It’s when they are at their lowest…and they can’t believe in themselves anymore.

Lee: The truth is I feel scared, helpless, anxious.  What if something goes wrong, what if I never reach that line, what if I never measure up?  Oh God.

Hayley: She said “honey, measuring is a dangerous game.  But if you’re going to measure someone, measure them right.  Make sure you take into account all the hills and valleys they’ve been through to get where they are now.  Measure them the same way you’d want someone to measure you.

Measure them with the mercy and measure them with the grace of God”.

She’s talking about forgiveness.  I know that she’s right. I hate it when she’s right. (Pause).

It’s just so hard to forgive, to be gracious, when you are totally overwhelmed by disappointment and pain.  All I want is revenge.  I’m not sure I can reach out beyond justice to mercy.  I’m not sure if I even want to.

Lee: Lord, I don’t know why the darkness prevails; I don’t know where you have gone.

I don’t understand your way in my life but I know that you can be trusted.  I will wait for you to speak.  I will wait for your spirit to comfort my fears.  I will let your grace be enough for me because deep down when I stop all the screaming and worrying and just stop.  I know that your grace is enough.

Grace: I have heard about all of your promises Lord but now I must wait.  As I wait for a breakthrough, (standing up) I hope in you.

We wait for you oh God of silence.  We wait for your grace.  We stop and mourn your loss, your absence on Holy Saturday but we were never meant to stay here.  We wrestle between the now and not yet, but up ahead, new life awaits.  A new start.

That is what I hope for.

The End.

This Drama works well when followed by Grace Like Rain…

Worship House Media’s DVD Grace like Rain begins to play 2.37 min.

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/17329/Grace-Like-Rain

REFERENCES

Idea for Hayley’s character taken from  ‘A Raisin in the Sun’, a play by Lorraine Hansberry.

Material for Grace’s character taken from – ‘God on Mute’ by Pete Grieg.

Material for Lee’s character written around – ‘How Good is Good Enough’ by Andy Stanley.

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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Does God Exist?

Does God Exist?

Written by Lisa Hunt-Wotton & Mitchell Hunt

© 2008 Citylife Church

 

Does God exist?  If there is a God, a creator, a being powerful enough to comprehend and to speak into existence all that is.  How could we, such insignificant specks in a timeless expanse, understand or comprehend the possibility of God.

Humanity questions:  Who am I?  Why am I?  Does God exist?  Is God a delusion a fantasy? If he does exist where is he?

We look for God in religion.  We ask where is God is science?  Can we find him in nature?

Some look for God in the bottom of a glass or in the satisfaction of a little blue pill.

Society looks for meaning, acceptance, understanding and purpose.  But are we truly searching for God?  Is it possible that who we are as human beings inexplicably compels us to search for something, for someone, for anything, to give meaning and hope to our existence?

A  Philosopher once asked, where is God?   The Christian answered, let me first ask you, where is he not? –  John Arrowsmith

Does God Exist?  Let’s look at the human body?

It takes the interaction of 72 different muscles to produce human speech.  When you sneeze, you can produce wind speeds as great as a hurricane or tornado. Our bodies are recreating themselves constantly – we make a skeleton every 3 months, a new skin every month.

eye

The most amazing component of the eye is its film or retina.  It is vastly more sensitive to a wider range of light than any man-made film.  The best man-made film can handle  is a light  range of 1,000-to-one.  By comparison the human retina can handle a dynamic range of light of 10 billion-to-one.  10 million times more.

“Your eyes are windows into your body.  If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief your body fills up with light”. Matt 6:22

Just look at the complexity of the human brain.    

The human brain consists of more than 100 billion nerve cells through which the brain commands are sent in the form of electric pulses.  These pulses travel at more than 400 km/h creating enough electricity to power a light bulb.

The human brain processes more than a million pieces of information per second.

“It is capable of having more ideas than the number of atoms in the known universe”. – Tony Buzan.

Electricity.png

One human brain generates more electrical impulses in a single day than all of the telephones in the world put together.

And the heart?

The average human heart creates enough pressure to squirt blood more than 9 metres. Capillaries’ are so small that red blood cells can only travel through them in single file.

There are approximately 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body.

The human heart beats about 40 million times a year and will beat 3,000 million times in its lifetime and pump 48 million gallons of blood.

The human body is an incredible machine—If properly cared for, it might run as long as a hundred years without a valve job or a new transmission or even a change in oil.

Ps 139:14.  “We are fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works oh God, this my soul knows very well.”

Does God exist in our universe?  Or are “chance’ and ‘natural causes’ sufficient explanations’ to how it all began?

If you went down the street and saw a dollar coin on the pavement you would think naturally, “someone dropped the money”, if you went down the street and saw a handful of dollar coins on the pavement you would think, “someone had a big hole in their pockets, or dropped a roll of dollar coins.”  But if you went down the street and saw one hundred dollar coins on the sidewalk and they were carefully balanced precariously on their edges, you would have to think that somebody did this deliberately.  The universe as we know it is that carefully balanced.

The charges of the electron and proton have been found to be precisely equal and opposite.  Were it not for this fact the resulting imbalance would force every object in the universe – our bodies, trees, planets, rocks, stars to explode violently.

What about our planet?  

Earth, its size is perfect.  If earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible.  If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would be uninhabitable like Jupiter.  Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gasses to sustain plant, animal and human life.

earth

The earth is located exactly the right distance from the sun.  If it were 10% closer we would burn up, 10% further away and we would freeze.  It also rotates on it’s axis at the perfect speed of nearly 67,000 mph allowing the entire surface of the earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day. Every second the sun burns the equivalent energy of 160 billion nuclear weapons.

One teaspoon of matter from a black hole is heavier than Mount Everest.

The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate designer who not only created our universe but sustains it today.  (Heb 1:3) “He bears all things along by the power of his word and upholds them with his hand.’

One thing I have learned in a long life, that all our science measured against reality is primitive and childlike – Albert Einstein

The Heavens.

sunset

The heavens articulate.

The heavens declare.

 “The heavens declare the Glory of God”….

We look into fathomless space, into the canopy of the heavens above us and wonder at how small we are, what causes us to exist?

The Heavens are not only a space which lies over the earth, it is not only that which marks off or secures space.  The heavens are imagined as a complex of powers and uncontrollable forces.  A realm that cannot be calculated by human measurement.

Heaven supplies and withdraws light and water; heaven determines life on this earth.

We on earth are dependant on an incoming supply of light, air, warmth and water.  Therefore heaven and earth stand in a one sided relationship.

The heavens are also part of creation.  They were created for pleasure, to exhibit glory and splendour.

“No-one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he can not really comprehend it.”  Ecclesiastes 8:17.  

Does God Exist?  

Technological advance allows science to search deeper and further than ever before, the boundaries of the know universe expand daily. From the genetic make up of a fruit fly to the composition of gases found in a super nova, we search.

Supernova.png

We search for God through telescopes and find infinite wonders, through microscopes and find incalculable intricacies but what are we truly looking for?

What do we find if we search within ourselves, in our heart in our soul.

Society asks Does God Exist?  Is He active in our lives?

What if God were to ask us you one question in response?

Do you allow me to exist? 

 

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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Where Are You God?

Are You There Bear?

This it the title of a children’s book that I used to read my eldest son.  With each turn of the page you journey through the house trying to find the bear.  Of course the anticipation builds with each page you turn, but you don’t find the bear until the very last page.  He is hiding.  It is the readers who have done the hard work of finding him.

Do you ever feel like that with God?  Are you there?   Where are you?  I can’t find you God!

When my husband died I thought that the intense suffering  I was experiencing would somehow give me a free supernatural pass.  In other words,  I would have a visitation: an angel would appear before me with an explanation, some direction or a reason.   I had reached the maximum required pain levels and had suffered so much, that maybe even Jesus himself would come and sit on the end of the bed and somehow this would compensate for my loss.

None of these things happened of course.

I grew up with a dualistic understanding of God.  That God is separate and distant.  Now I understand that because of incarnation we are able to say that God is here, God is with us.  When Jesus came he was perfectly human and perfectly divine.  He was both.  Yet we often fail to see the humanity in Christ.  We forget that he was divinity clothed in humanity.  God is not ‘out there’ he within us.    God is in everything, he is within us and he is within everything that he created.  We carry his DNA.

I spent most of my life waiting for God to come.  Never understanding that he was already with me.  I didn’t know how to find him within the core of me.  The spiritual journey is just this,  understanding that He is within us and finding ways to draw from the centre.

In the centre we learn how: 

To be still – to know that He is God.

To be quiet enough to hear his voice.

To rest from our pain and labour and trust the journey.

sunset stillness

These are not easy things to do.  The one positive experience from my deep loss was the understanding of my complete and utter reliance on God and my profound need of Him.

The spiritual journey is always about what we do with our pain.   We must learn how to transform our pain.  As Richard Rohr says:

“If we do not transform our pain we will transmit it”

At the time of my husband’s death I saw Jesus primarily as a problem solver. If he would just appear then he would take away this horrific pain.    If he had done that then I would have missed the lesson on how pain can be used to transform us.

Suffering seems to be the only thing that gets our immediate attention.  It makes us realise  we are not in control.  When Jesus was on the cross he cried out:

  • “Why have you forsaken me”: Are you there God?  Where are you?  
  • He then says “Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.”
  • Finally he says “into your hands I commit my spirit”.

These are the three transformative stages of pain.

1:  The Agony:  Where are you?  Why is this happening?

2:  Character Transformation:  Anger – forgiveness.  Anxiety – peace.  Fear – love.

3:  Letting Go:  Not my will but your will be done.  I give everything to you.  

What was designed to kill, maim and destroy Jesus was transformed to life and victory.

If we don’t allow our wounds to be washed and cleansed by the spirit of God then the alternative is that our wounds fester and we become bitter, smelly, toxic and cynical.  If you go through life letting the wounds mount up without dealing with them,  you become a toxic person and you begin to poison everyone around you.  You are not able to deal with all of that negativity and cynicism and it begins to seep out of your pores.

THIS is what we need to be saved from.   This is why we need the power of Christ in our lives.   We can become free from these wounds and become pathways of grace.  We can let go of the traumas and be transformed.

If you don’t embrace your pain, if you don’t actively work toward healing and wellness then the pain actually takes on a life of its own.  It begins to define you, to own you, to mould you and shape you.

Eckart Tolle defines this “accumulated pain” as “a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind.”

In your mind, it makes you judgmental and negative. In your body, it makes you fearful and angry. You can observe this energy in yourself as a kneejerk, self-protective reaction to everything around you. I emphasize the word reaction here because there’s no clear, conscious decision to think or act in this way. Tolle says, “If you look on [the pain body] as an invisible entity in its own right, you are getting quite close to the truth.”

If we engage in healing work, we identify with the pain and we are compassionate toward it.   We embrace it and envisage it and then we work toward letting it go.

We are transformed how?  We are transformed by renewing our minds.    To rewire the way that we think.  To think on what is good, and pure and noble.  To put aside pain, fear, un-forgiveness and revenge.   To cultivate the fruits of the spirit of God.  The harvest of the spirit or the signs that the spirit of God is within us are:  goodness, meekness, self control, faith, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness.

These are the fruits that we are to share with everyone around us.  When we share this fruit with those in our world it is life saving and life-giving.  When we serve up the fruit of the spirit to those in our world then we are offering Shalom to everyone that we meet.  We are declaring that pain will not define us or shape us into something that we were never meant to be.  We are saying that it is possible to overcome adversity and live with a sweet spirit.

I am not saying that this is an easy task, it is not.  But it does get EASIER.  In the words of Pantene, ‘It may not happen over night but it will happen’.  Just as a fruit tree does not bear fruit when it is still a seedling.  It takes time to grow and mature and in that process it needs to be nourished and watered and pruned.   From little things big things grow.

Now I am quoting TV adds so its time to finish this blog post.  lol

Shalom and love to you all. xxx Lisa

Live long and prosper… okay really going now….

Feature photo credit:  Matt Lawson Photography

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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How to Keep Mentally Fit

Life is strange and often surprises us when we least expect it. After going through a surgery last year, I was hoping my life was going to change for the better. Instead, after months of pain, it took me on a downward spiral, leaving me with a series of health conditions that I struggled to […]

via How to Keep Mentally Fit — Soul Talk

How Men Face Their Trauma

This is an excellent read, tailored to men about how men heal from trauma. I found this really helpful. I hope that you do to. Lisa.

Getting High on Recovery

How Men Face Their Trauma2

Sean Swaby tells his story of trauma and healing.

___

Trauma.

Ask a man if he has experienced any trauma and he will probably just shrug his shoulders. He will tell you he’s never faced any of it, so go ask the next guy.

The reality is that most men have experienced some level of psychological trauma.

What is trauma?

Trauma can be defined as situational or chronic.

  • Situational trauma is a car accident, one incident of harm or an overwhelming experience (such as witnessing someone being hurt, shot, or murdered).
  • Chronic trauma is where a person experiences ongoing traumas that include (and are not limited to): emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and even spiritual abuse. For a more exhaustive list, click here.

According to PTSD United, 70% of us have experienced at least one trauma. If you dig into the statistics, you soon realize…

View original post 1,156 more words

Are You Living on the Edge?

Recently a good friend of mine asked me to write a blog post on how to manage time and navigate the complexities of life and mental wellness.   Just a small topic lol….  It has been percolating away in my spirit.  The answer has a lot to do with knowing who we are and what we need.  I could do a blog post on organisation and time management but I think that our daily exhaustion goes much deeper than this.

1:  Who are you?

One of the main objectives of spiritual awareness or spiritual awakening is to get to know yourself.  The spiritual life is a journey to the centre.  I would suggest that the majority of people today do not know who they are.  I am a celebrant and as I meet with couples to craft their wedding ceremonies I ask them.  What are your values?  What are the non negotiable areas in your life?  What does marriage mean to you?  What is love?  What do you need in a relationship to thrive? Most find it very difficult to answer because they simply don’t know.  Most think that getting married is about the reception, the dress and the rings.

Let me ask you?  What are your values?  What do you build your life on?  What values are you intentionally instilling into your children, your family?  What energizes you? What depletes you?  Are you an introvert?  Are you an extrovert?  Are you motivated by beauty, by logic, by knowledge?  Are you dealing with your trauma your relationship issues? If I scratch the surface what do you bleed?  Love or anger? Could you answer those questions.  If I asked the people around you what would they say about you?

2:  The two sides of us.

All of us has a dark side and a light side.  We are all two sides of the same coin.  We cannot ignore this dark side of us.  In the book of Matthew, a young man asks Jesus about the wheat and the weeds.  “Should I pull out the weeds?” he asks.  Jesus tells him to let them grow up side by side until the harvest.   We have both growing inside of us.   We are a mixture of weed and wheat and the trick is knowing which is which.

A Cherokee parable talks about having two wolves and the fight within us.

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

“One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

“This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”

The old chief simply replied,
“The one you feed.”

Note: At Calvary we see a picture of Jesus hanging between two thieves.  The good thief who accepted Jesus and the bad thief who did not.  Jesus forgave both and so should we.

How does this fit into the balance of life?

If you do not know yourself or acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses then how can you properly balance your life or know what you need?

For example:  Today I will send a text to my family and close friends asking them to be patient with me through the month of April.  I am aware that is it an awful month for me.  It is full of grief memories and heartache.  It triggers trauma incidents that happened in this month.  Easter and particularly the weather can make some days very difficult.  It is also my birthday and the birthday of my deceased husband. Those of you who have suffered death or loss will know that birthdays are particularly difficult.

This is a dark month for me.  I can grow quiet, remote, snappy, tired, depressed and teary.  Knowing this helps me to navigate my month.  I won’t book too many engagements into my diary.  I will take time out to rest over Easter.  If I’m tired and need to have solitude I will give myself permission to do so.  I am aware that my mental health will test my physical strength and emotional capacity.  The alternative is to pretend that everything is fine while I quietly die inside or to punish all those around me as they fail to measure up to my crazy expectations.  They cannot fix the pain, I must embrace it, and navigate it with wisdom and patience knowing that I will come out the other side and that every year gets a little easier.

3:  Living on the edge

In our society, most of us are like rats in the wheel.  We run busily around on our tread mills, spinning out day after day.  Running from the past, running from pain and often doing all we can just to survive.

person-run-treadmill-rat-cage-gets-nowhere-running-hamster-mouse-wheel-31675956

We are not meant to live like this.  The Hebrew meaning for Shalom is to flourish.  Shalom is a beautiful word that means you have peace and are flourishing in every direction.

Shalom

Shalom is: contentment, community, health, reconciliation, peace, well-being, justice, wholeness, integrity.  Shalom is the way that things should be or ought to be.  If we are living in Shalom then we are living as we ought to live in order to flourish.

Anthony Bradley says:  “An emphasis on human flourishing, ours and others’, becomes important because it is characterized by a holistic concern for the spiritual, moral, physical, economic, material, political, psychological, and social context necessary for human beings to live according to their design.”

We all desire Shalom.  Shalom is the perfect balance of life.

The Wheel

Let me build upon the image of the wheel.  There is an edge –  the circumference, there are the spokes – life tasks or pieces of the pie that we dish out to everyone in our life, and there is the essence – the centre.   In my experience we are mostly  a circumference people.  We live on the edge of our life.  We run round the outside trying to do everything and to be everything to all people.  It is obvious that there are tasks in our lives that need to be achieved.  Work, relationships, school, health, education, etc, etc,…….

wheel

The best way to navigate the demands of life in a healthy way, is to live in the centre.  If you are into physics then you will know that the centre is the best place to bear the load.  However, we can only be centred if we know where the centre is and how to get there.

 “We are a circumstance people, with little access to the centre.  We live on the boundaries of our own lives”(Rohr).

No wonder we sometimes feel like the centre is collapsing, or that we are running out of steam.  Most of us are literally on the edge. If we stay on the circumference of our lives we will never get to know ourselves and we will never get to know God.  It will also become difficult for us to know or to love others.

Jesus asked us to love others the same way that we love ourselves.  If we don’t know ourselves how can we love ourself.  If we don’t love ourself how can we love others.  Compassion and grace toward others comes from the realisation that we all have these two wars going on inside of us.  We all struggle with the weaknesses of our characters.  We have all failed, we have all fallen.  Coming from the centre, from humility enables us to love others and to be inclusive and accepting of who they are instead of repelling others because we see them as unlovely or unloveable.

There are two main pathways to the centre.  Prayer and pain.  Both of these are pathways of transformation.  It is through the pain, heat and death, that life and transformation occurs.  Richard Rohr says that:  Suffering gets our attention and prayer gets our hearts.  We need to be in touch with both the essence and the edges of our lives.  Only then can we safely navigate and balance our days and weeks.

In summary:

1:  We must get to know the core and essence of who we are

2:  We must acknowledge our dark side and our light side

3:  We must not stay too long on the circumferences where the doing overtakes the work of being.

4:  Once we understand who we are and what we need,  then we can plan our life around that.  Cutting out the things and people who unnecessarily deplete or disempower us.  There are only so many pieces of the pie.  This is the part where we take stock and look at what to keep and what to cut.

This one is for you Tim.  Tim supports me on Patreon.com and sent in this topic that he hoped that I would cover.  It was a challenge accepted gratefully. xxx Lisa – Shalom

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

 

 

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