I have a confession to make. I don’t like “church”. Not “church” in the way most of us think of “church” anyway. We’ve all been at onetime or another whether as a child or adult, a guest to someone who invited us to attend their church, or maybe as a “holiday” church goer attending the Christmas, Easter or Mother’s Day service, maybe even as a member of a church or churches.

We know the drill: met at the door by the greeter who smiles, shakes your hand and thanks you for showing up. The music, traditional or contemporary, the prayer, a couple more songs, the sermon, the plate is passed, another prayer or offer to come forward for prayer and a couple of closing songs then the walk toward the exit to nod and shake hands with a few of the regulars and finally, for the newcomer, the invite from the pastor to come back again.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t have anything against the way we in America have chosen to “church”…..I just don’t fit in. Ever had that experience? That’s really why I don’t like church, I just have always felt like an outsider. Like I’m on the outside looking in. Even when I have been a member, lead a class,  or sang in the music ministry.

For the longest time I just thought that it was my perception and that I just needed to learn to fit in, to be like everyone else and so I did. I spoke “Christianese”, changed the way I dressed so that I blended into whatever the culture of the church “brand” happened to be, carried my Bible, memorized scripture enough so that I could sprinkle conversation with my obvious close relationship with God, attended dozens of women’s Bible groups, and volunteered to do my part so that I could BE a part. The problem was I wasn’t being “me”, I was faking it, pretending to be someone I was not and I didn’t like that.

Fast forward. After a series of events which will be left for a later discussion, I was done with God and church. I had no need for Him or prayer, or the Bible, or the myriad promises the church said God would make a reality; I threw the baby out with the bathwater.

Again after a series of events I decided in my infinite wisdom and grace that I would give God another chance. How very generous of me, right? But in all seriousness I missed God, I missed the relationship. I did not miss all the trimmings, being focused on fitting in. So now what? How was I going to “be” a Christian without feeling like an imposter?

Well first I decided I didn’t have to “label” myself as a “Christian”. Now before anyone takes offense let me make my case, and let’s remember this is my story, not yours. If you identify yourself as a “Christian” I am completely cool with that, no judgment from me whatsoever, so no worries. But for me the word “Christian” had negative connotations because of my experiences in the church and because I had tried so hard to “be” a Christian.

Before abandoning ship I had done study in Messianic Judaism and I liked what I learned, so the “label” I gave myself was “Messianic Gentile”. That is just a fancy shmancy way of saying that I had adopted the mindset of those who were not Jews by birth, rather honored the “Jewishness” of Jesus and the scriptures. Again that’s a discussion for another day.

I started by talking to God, not praying in the traditional sense, but just talking. Mostly I just thanked Him. I thanked Him for my kids, my job, the “things” I had. In short I adopted “an attitude of gratitude”. It was the least I could do, I mean I was still here and kicking so I figured there was hope for me however sorry a human being I was!! In truth I wasn’t even sure God loved me or accepted me anymore because I had been down some not-so-pretty roads in my life since I had abandoned ship. I was dirty, bedraggled, foul mouthed, negative, had been suicidal, and participating in vices I had no intention of giving up and one I still don’t intend to give up, and really that is a relative statement depending upon how you define “vice”. If you find any of that shocking hang onto your hat, but I refuse to apologize for who I am. And that is really where I am going with all of this: none of us should apologize for who we are. God, I reasoned, was either going to love me and accept me for who I was, warts, wounds, scars and all or He wasn’t. It was as simple as that.

Oh yeah, I challenged Him, tested Him, said whatever I thought to Him daring Him to toss me out with the trash, but He didn’t. Imagine that. There were days I shook my fist heavenward, screamed, yelled and stomped my feet better than any 3 year old out there! And STILL He refused to go away!

You see, God is love. The Bible says that and so He can’t do anything else but love us. He loves me and He loves you! Maybe you don’t believe that but He does!

How do I know that? How do we know anything really?? I can’t explain it but I KNOW He didn’t move one step away from me at my worst, He just moved a little closer.

Well what I just said isn’t quite true. I do know because the Bible is our reference manual for God. Now wait before you click me off or flip me off, whichever, it’s all good, I don’t intend to go all “churchy” on you but we can’t talk about God without talking about the Bible. The Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and if He is also love then He loves us as we were, as we are, and as we will be. We are at best a messy bunch of misfits on any given day and He knows that better than we do.

So, what has any of that got to do with an “unchurch”? It has everything to do with it. The “unchurch” is for all of us who don’t fit in, never did, never will. For all of us who are messy, bedraggled, insecure, fearful, struggling, rejected and stumbling through life but STILL want a relationship with God. And when I say God I also mean Jesus. The good news is there is a place for us. The “unchurch” is a gathering of people who want to know God, not to have all the do’s and don’ts dumped on us as we walk thru the door. The “unchurch” is anywhere 2 or more are gathered.

It’s time for “church” to be all inclusive. It’s time for us to make our relationship with Him our primary focus. It’s time.


Through the Looking Glass…..

There is a social psychological concept called the “looking glass self”, coined in 1902 by Charles Cooley. It goes like this – We are who we think others think we are. That’s quite a mouthful, wouldn’t you say? Three components relate to the concept: 1. We imagine how we appear to another. 2. Then we imagine what judgments others are making about our appearance. 3. Finally, we decide how the other feels about us. The imagined assumptions are then internalized to encompass the whole of our being. The ultimate result is that we develop our self-image, or how we feel about ourselves, from these assumptions that are not based upon facts a lot of the time. We tend to adapt our behavior in the company of others based on how we think they perceive us. Ever notice how our image changes in the presence of different people? Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

We all have images or beliefs about ourselves that are deeply embedded. So much so, most of us aren’t even aware how deeply and universally our beliefs about self affect everything in our lives. Physically, we look in the mirror and see the image we believe others see, but the belief is ofttimes inaccurate because the belief is based on assumptions. Women especially, focus on the flaws and imperfections we adopt as self-image; the flaws we believe others see in us. The same would be true of our emotional and spiritual images. Do you keep spiritual beliefs on the down low for fear of being thought of as a “Bible thumper”, or spiritual “weirdo”? Of course, this process is an unconscious process, and we may not be fully aware of the images we have buried in the subconscious, nevertheless, we all are affected to one degree or another. More passive individuals will allow others to define who they are, whereas a stronger personality may form some opinion of self looking through the eyes of others, but will not be dependent upon the image. Makes one wonder if we are ever our authentic self? Does any of us really know who we are?

For those who use the Bible as a reference tool, their interpretations are based on the belief systems and doctrines of the churches they choose to attend, in other words, interpret the Bible based on the doctrines or beliefs associated with a particular denomination, rather than the Bible alone. In many ways, the Bible is a living document in the sense that as we grow, change, or learn, our interpretations change; the scriptures seem to give us new insight into ourselves and others. Turning toward a more focused experience on journey with the Divine, and opening myself to theories and ideas long-shunned or rejected by the church without any discernible merit, I can still appreciate the Bible, especially as it relates to Yeshua (Jesus). I see the Bible as a manual on human behavior and our relationship to self, others, and God.

Using the looking-glass-self theory, the church teaching is that we should see ourselves through the eyes of Jesus. To that end, I am in agreement. Yeshua, the embodiment of the Divine, living on earth as a fully human, fully matured spirit man, was and is our teacher, mentor and example. Applying the looking-glass-self theory, we will form an image of ourselves the way we believe Jesus sees us. One of the two mirrors will reflect back to us the image of what we believe to be God’s opinion, whether we believe ourselves to be filthy sinners saved by grace, born a sinful being without hope apart from the shed blood of a Savior, or a valued, precious spirit, living in a body, having a human experience, and loved fully and completely by God, the source of Divine love. Perhaps the first image evokes feelings of guilt for perceived sin, with a dollop of gratitude for escape from the wages of sin. How will we live and breathe and move within that scenario? For many, whether one chooses to believe it or not, the primary motive to live a life of ‘righteousness is fear; fear of sinning, fear of judgment, fear of not measuring up, or fear of being denied heaven after death of the body. We become dependent on the whim and mercy of a fickle and unpredictable God. Conversely, if one chooses to believe we are on a journey with God, the Divine Source of Love, a journey of learning, growth and empowerment, we will think and act accordingly. In the first scenario, we are at the mercy of a Being who holds all the cards, so to speak. Within the second scenario, we are part of the Divine, worthy and precious, and loved for who we are, right this minute, without judgment or need for discipline or punishment. In either case, we are human and will screw up, fall on our faces, make wrong decisions, and will be just plain ugly at times. How I believe God will handle me at those times will reveal the way I imagine God sees me. Will I feel guilt-ridden whether I even need to own that feeling or not, or will I see any and all experiences as opportunities to learn and grow, to ascend to a higher level of understanding?

Yeshua (Jesus) accepted people as they were, yet saw and encouraged their potential and gifts for the highest good of others. From the scriptures, we see that Jesus didn’t sugar-coat anything while remaining tender toward those who were honestly searching. He recreated the realities of people who had allowed others to define their current reality. The woman with the issue of blood, told by every doctor she was incurable, the lepers shunned and ridiculed by society, forced to walk through the streets shouting, “unclean, unclean” to warn others of their presence, and the woman caught in the act of adultery, labeled as a whore, a prostitute worthy of stoning. Each of these are examples of people who lived the reality others had created for them until Jesus came along and spoke a different reality, a reality filled with life-giving energy, healing energy, transforming energy.

Jesus, the earthly representation of Divine Love, loved and loves today. No one had to be perfect, super religious or spiritual. All were accepted as they were; the messy, lame, blind, and the battered and bruised by life. Even those He chose as His disciples were a ragtag bunch of misfits, but Jesus saw them differently. Peter, the rough, brash, impulsive fisherman was deemed The Rock, destined to become ‘fishers of men’.  All were worthy of love, all were loved, all were seen as precious and shown a new reality, a new self they could view through the looking glass, a self created without judgment about physical appearance, emotional or mental health, or spiritual maturity. Who is it you see in the looking glass? Someone who has been judged unworthy, unintelligent, unattractive, crazy, weird, not good enough, or any number of inaccurate adjectives or labels? Maybe it’s time for another looking glass…..

Through the Door of Love…..

We have more in common with one another than we have things separating us. We are all human, for one. Beyond that, we all have experienced joy, fear, and pain, have felt the sting of humiliation, and rejection, are all passionate about something, we all wake up to the same sky every morning, and fall asleep to the same moon, and we all want to love and be loved. And, most of us believe there is an unseen force, an entity separate from us, yet connected, responsible for our creation or origins, and many share a belief in a heaven, or life beyond our earthly existence. How we view each of these, and what we believe about a presence apart from ourselves makes us different.

Likely, since the dawn of time, there has been dissension among the masses debating and arguing the minutiae and nuances of our belief systems. At the core of our beings we either know, want to know, or are searching for the energy source, the entity many believe is ‘out there’. Man has allowed, and continues to allow, the minute differences to separate us, so much so, wars are fought in the name of being right, people slaughtered in the name of God, and walls built around our sacred beliefs. We call those walls ‘religion’. Let’s face it; we all want to be right.

God is love. Every Christian who has ever darkened the doorway of a church or opened a Bible would agree. On the other side, those who choose the path of spirituality would also agree with that statement. In the 70’s and 80’s the pursuit of spirituality came to the forefront. This group of people were known as “New Agers”. New Age thinking combines theology, philosophy, and nature into a mindset influenced by Eastern thought, religious tolerance, and to a certain degree, moral diversity, or some would say, moral relativism. Now, before the hackles rise and the claws come out, for a moment let’s have an open mind. Just because some people believe in moral relativism, doesn’t mean everyone does.

Within Christianity, no two doctrines are exactly the same. Different ‘brands’ of church have chosen beliefs from the Bible to build their doctrines. One church may emphasize salvation as its principle doctrine, another may stress conformity to the point current culture is shunned, children are raised by harsh Biblical standards of discipline and punishment, everyone dresses in similar styles of clothing, and still others may focus efforts on ministering to the poor, the hungry, the abandoned, and the vulnerable of society, welcoming everyone  through their doors. Some believe only those who have lived a life of ‘upright righteousness and piety’ are blessed and acceptable to God, and some believe God turns away no one. In other words diversity. On the other side of the line in the sand are those who have adopted a broader definition of God, love, acceptance, and spiritual practice derived from a variety of theologies. Diversity.

For most of my adult life we were part of a church ‘family’. Life with an abusive husband, however, systematically being stripped of dignity, and watching my children being mistreated, and powerless to do much about it, the whole idea of church left me a bit cold. (Before judgment sets in, wisdom cautions we do not have the right to judge until we have walked in another’s shoes.) With the passing of time and a fair amount of healing, I was able to see God as separate from church. Through soul-searching I found my way back to God and realized I wanted to journey with Him, wanted a relationship with Him based on love and not ‘rules’. My children showed me the path of spirituality, a journey of love, growth, and peace devoid of fear-based theology and manmade boundaries designed to control more so than provide a foundation of acceptance and understanding. True to my nature I read everything I could get my hands on, researched, and listened to those journeying with God in a different way. Church had taught me to fear those who had chosen to practice yoga, meditation instead of prayer, alternative energy healing modalities, or angel therapy, and believe that love was the only characteristic of God. This entity, this energy, or source of all we know, the seen and unseen, loves without judgment.

The pursuit and study of spirituality is a belief system different from Christianity, yet in many ways, similar. The ‘Law of Attraction’ is prevalent with those pursuing spirituality. We get what we put out there. Granted, a lot of the hype around the concept has to do with financial prosperity, but really the hype is a way to draw people in. We respond to the thought of wealth, do we not? The principle is sound. Jesus taught the ‘law of attraction’; it just wasn’t labeled in that way. ‘Ask and you will receive’, ‘if you have faith the size of a mustard seed’, ‘your faith has made you whole’, and many other similar scriptures throughout the Bible attest to the principle.

Those on a spiritual journey, and those on a more traditional journey with God believe God is love. The Bible provides a glimpse here and there of a journey with Divine Love apart from strict rules and discipline, but for the most part the fear factor precedes or succeeds the love God has for His creation. (I am aware I am using references to God as a male, however, I believe God is neither male, nor female) Man’s need for structure and organization have contributed to the religious construct, as has man’s need to control. It is the control issue I find more concerning. And, in part, believe it is the control issue driving people from the church toward different ways to journey with God.

An open mind is not a bad thing. As sentient beings, we have the capacity to decide for ourselves what resonates with us as individuals.  No two people are alike so why must we all fit into a religious model forcing conformity versus guiding people toward God? Stripping away the walls of control erected by man and viewing Jesus as Divine Incarnate we can see Yeshua (Jesus) in a different light. Jesus taught; He didn’t force, coerce, or threaten. He was compassionate and loving, guiding others toward a relationship with God. It is through this lens a journey with the Divine makes sense for me. Others may need to view the journey from a bit different vantage point, but is their view inferior or superior to mine? No, it is not.

One of the doctors I work with is a Muslim and wears the dress of her culture. Because she is the Medical Director and works closely with our department I know her quite well. She easily and frequently references God – not in a “look at how pious I am” or in a name dropper way, but from the heart. It’s part of her fabric and comes as easily as telling someone her name. Few people were as excited for Christmas and the celebration many equate with Jesus’ birth than she, and she celebrated Ramadan earlier in the year, as well. Many would say because she is not a “Christian” defined by our standard of Christianity, she will not enter heaven. I beg to differ. Sincerity, heart motivation, intention is what I believe matters to the Divine. This woman has genuine concern for others, is not impressed with the letters she worked hard for and carries behind her name. She is a mother and wife first, then a doctor, and makes everyone feel important as if they are a friend as opposed to a number on a chart, or just another nurse among many. She is not a native of our country, and yet personifies the “American Dream”, not in the materialistic way many do, rather through valuing the ideals of America. She has taught me a lot.

Do you feel a tug, a desire to know and journey with the Divine, with God, but don’t feel comfortable or accepted in the traditional church setting? There is a journey for all. “Come to me ALL who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” It doesn’t say ‘how’ we are to come, or through what religious or doctrinal door we are to enter. God simply says, “Come all”…..

Unlimited Belief…..

Belief is an acceptance of something as true; to believe is to think or have an opinion on a subject, to trust, or have confidence in something. We have a tendency to believe in something just because we think it is unequivocally true, or false, but is it? Often what we believe cannot be proven, we cannot offer concrete evidence of our belief otherwise it would be a fact, right? So is it possible beliefs can be incorrect?

The reason we defend our beliefs so adamantly is because we often feel an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty the belief is true. Beliefs affect us on multiple levels; physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally, so much so that wars are fought over opposing beliefs, globally as well as personally. People around the world since the dawn of time have given up their lives in defense of a belief. What we believe to be true, or false, is indeed very powerful.

We need to believe, beliefs are not necessarily bad things. Beliefs help our brains make sense of the information received and organize our thoughts, and in turn, make sense of the world we live in. They help us form our mindset and interpretation of the world around us. We tend to embrace our beliefs and act on them as if they are true, but what if they aren’t?  It is altogether possible we received bad information, and we are basing decisions and actions on the erroneous beliefs.

Beliefs about ourselves, or life in general that prevent us from trying new things, or stepping outside our comfort zones for fear of failure, are called ‘limiting beliefs’. Repeated thoughts or messages we hear from the outside world, whether family, friends, or others, become a part of our overall fabric. They niggle their way into our subconscious, take root, and before we know it, we have decided to embrace the message or thought. Limiting beliefs begin in childhood. Oliver Wendell Holmes said it this way, “We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible.” Many times they are a result of a negative bias.

A negative bias is a belief, often based on an experience leaving an impression of fear, in some form. They can be a result of a traumatic experience we have had, a tragedy we witnessed, or a cultural mindset, and they are far more powerful than a positive bias. Before we judge a negative bias as bad, they do serve a purpose in our lives. The fear brought about by a negative bias may be important to our survival, therefore providing a degree of protection. If, as children, we are told to look both ways before crossing a street or we may be hit by a car, all we have is a statement, but nothing to validate the statement is true. However, if we witness a small animal running across the street get hit by a car, the experience will set up a negative bias that crossing the street is indeed dangerous. The negative bias becomes a measure of protection for us. Taken a step further, if the experience was so traumatic we are afraid to cross the street ever again despite the knowledge we have crossed safely many times before, the fear becomes the limiting belief. The small animal being hit by the car validates the belief.

Some limiting thoughts may have been comments or statements voiced one time by one person, but the effect caused doubt, or fear, and stopped further growth in its tracks. When I was in the third grade I took piano lessons. Granted, I was like most every other kid; I would rather do anything else besides practice. All in all I wasn’t that bad, but one day my piano teacher told me I didn’t have any natural talent and therefore was wasting her time. Whether or not she said those exact words, that is the message I heard.  To this day I don’t play piano! Why did I let one statement from one person affect me so deeply? Perhaps if she would have said, “maybe we should set lessons aside for a year or so and come back and give it another go” the outcome would have been different? What about a child or teen who is told he/she is worthless? If the child or teen embraces that thought what will life look like going forward?

Growing up we may have heard, “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”, or “Enjoy being single. Once you marry the fun ends!” or “adults just work, pay bills, and never get ahead”. What is wrong with these statements? Are the negative statements built on facts? No, of course not, but nevertheless we may believe them to be true. These beliefs are known as collective beliefs; those we have grown up with, but are not specific to us. Collective beliefs, and personal beliefs we have accepted as specific to us, create our reality. We look for evidence to validate the beliefs, and ignore evidence proving the statements false.

Breaking free of limiting beliefs requires us to step outside our comfort zones, re-frame our thinking, and replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. No easy task, for sure. We have to look for evidence to prove our new beliefs, and remind ourselves of the evidence when the old thoughts try to creep back in. If our limiting thoughts have defined who we are as a person because of statements others have made, we need to spend some time figuring out who we are apart from those statements. When ‘I can’t’ comes out of our mouths we need to pause and ask ourselves if we truly cannot do something, go somewhere, or be someone, or is it simply a belief? Limiting thoughts are a product of the ego, the self-centered part of us who likes to be in control, maintain the status quo. The spirit self is the voice of the Divine; encouraging, loving, uplifting.

Yeshua (Jesus) while He walked the earth as a man, was our teacher and mentor opening the door to living by the spirit versus the ego. He chose to see the impossible as possible, create the reality He wanted for others, not allow others to define one’s reality. Yeshua demonstrated a fully awakened spirit, a goal we can reach when He said if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, we could move mountains.  Did Yeshua literally mean mountains would move? I believe if there were a need, it could be done. Rather, the message I hear is the ability is within each of us, within the spirit self, the self in tune with the Divine. The mountains we move are the limiting beliefs we have preventing us to live fully. We choose to allow the spirit to come forth, or stand behind the ego.  

Yeshua declared the woman with the “issue of blood” healed through her own faith. She had allowed medical people around her to decide she was incurable instead of believing she could be well again. Yeshua empowered the woman to see the possibility of wellness apart from the limited beliefs of others she had embraced.

Each of us is a spark from the Divine, created in the image of God, and empowered with the ability of the Divine Spirit. Take a serious look at the ‘I can’t’ statements in your life. What is holding you back from moving the mountains in the way of being who you were created to be, or doing what you were created to do…..?

It’s What Jesus Taught…..

I just finished watching the movie Miracles from Heaven  based on a true story about a young girl in the process of dying because of an incurable illness. She went home from the hospital after many months of treatments, basically to live out her last days, had an accident falling from a tree, and was miraculously healed. The child claims to have gone to heaven and met Jesus who told her she was coming back to earth as there were things still left for her to do in life. Fact-checking the story it appears the movie took a few liberties, but for the most part, stayed true to the reported experience.

First, let me say I do believe in miraculous healings, in Jesus, and that heaven is not necessarily a place, as we have been taught, rather a higher level of understanding or consciousness, in other words, a transition from our earthly life to one of spirit united with God. Does everyone get healed? No, not everyone is meant to be healed in this life. Is it our fault we don’t receive healing? Certainly not. We are subject to the frailties of our bodies and the stresses of the world we live in; people become ill and sometimes they die, but I don’t believe death is a failure on our part in any way.

In the movie the family attended what appeared to be a fundamentalist church. At the end of a church service when the child was getting progressively more ill, two women approached the mother of the child and strongly suggested if the child wasn’t experiencing healing it was time to look at reasons such as sin, or lack of faith, or some other failure on their part. Her reaction was pretty close to the one I had while attending churches in the past during times of hardship. The same suggestions were made – and I am being polite using the word “suggestions”. She was offended and decided not to go back, throwing God out the window with the offensive and cleary wrong “suggestions”. Anyone besides me been there? Those suggestions have been offered to me more than once The first time I swallowed it, believing my level of Biblical understanding and faith not as mature as the ones offering the unsolicited suggestions. Age, wisdom, and life taught me ignorance is everywhere, sometimes disguised as cherubic, Bible-believing, never-had-a-day-of-hardship-in-their-life pew sitters. It truly is amazing how many there are in churches throughout Christendom, and many are leaders and teachers! Like the movie character, I walked out the door and dropped God at the threshold. I did give attending church another chance, as did the “mom” character, but the ignorance quickly reared its ugly head yet again. I left with God that time, but took a right turn on my way out the door and haven’t looked back since. People are imperfect, and certainly I don’t expect only perfect people to attend churches. We are all in the process of learning and growing in our earthly and spiritual lives. I don’t mind people offering me an opinion – if I ask. People who choose to offer unsolicited advice not knowing the circumstances, or condemn others in a backhanded way meant to sound like an offer of prayer, are another story altogether. Why kick someone when they are down? Is that what “Jesus would do?” Common sense is not a flower growing in everyone’s garden.

My take on Yeshua (Jesus) is that He came to demonstrate and teach what is possible. God taking the form of man was important to the process. Jesus, although Divine Incarnate, lived as a man and therefore was subject to man’s limitations. He was also fully Divine to demonstrate man’s ability to live from the spirit while living within the here and now. He was not bound by the ego, although if accounts of Him in the Garden of Gethsemane are at all accurate, His ego did war with spirit, at least in the telling of that story. Jesus embodied the work of positive energy; intention always set for the outcome He wanted to create, while ignoring the naysayers and negative-nellies in His midst. He embodied all that is possible. In my mind, the ‘possible’ is the takeaway.

Life teaches us valuable lessons through experiences and consequences; both good and bad. But what if a young child dies unexpectedly, a parent is tragically taken from a family, a natural disaster wipes out an entire town? Are these results of sin or failure on someone’s part? No, not as far as I am concerned. Life happens. In times like these I have heard parents being told a demon must have been let into their midst and God’s protection was taken from them to explain an  unexpected death. From the pulpit I have heard ‘count it all joy’ when we suffer. And, I have heard parents of a gay child who died from AIDS told their child wouldn’t go to heaven as God’s punishment for their sin. Talk about rubbing salt into a wound! If compassion is what these comments were meant to convey, please, refrain from sharing.

The Bible tells us God is love, and that all are welcome. It also says there is no condemnation for those who believe in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) Belief, it would seem, is a condition to escape condemnation. Within love there are no conditions put on behavior, belief, or lack thereof. Man has given God human characteristics, and we see that throughout the Bible: vengeance, judgment, discipline, and the like are not characteristics of pure love. At times, the God found within the scriptures almost seems fickle, short-tempered, or petulant. Karma eventually settles all scores. It’s not some weird new age philosophy, as many believe; Karma is the result of the consequences of our behavior.

Everything comes back to heart motivation. Man cannot judge the heart motivations of another, or the inner workings of any situation or circumstance. In the Biblical account of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus responded stating He didn’t condemn her either when her accusers walked away. Why would any other “sins” be condemned, and what would be the conditions for their condemnation? The account doesn’t mention anything about the woman’s ‘belief’ in Jesus, or a ‘confession of sin’ on her part.

Healing is real, I believe that, and have experienced it myself. The child in the movie could have just as easily died like her roommate at the hospital. What is the takeaway? Did mom turn back toward God, ask forgiveness, and in exchange God healed her daughter? No, I think it much simpler than that. “For with God, nothing is impossible.” (Luke 1:37 The Complete Jewish Bible) Partnership with the Divine, living from the spirit; it’s what Jesus taught. Possibility…..

Healing: More Than A Pill…..

I have spent the better part of my adult life working as a nurse in one capacity or another. The accepted medical model of our country is to treat illness, not prevent it. Researchers spend their lives determining what causes illness; identifying microorganisms, viruses, and other body invaders and looking for changes in the body resulting in diseases. We have been taught about prevention of illness through exercise and healthy eating, avoiding stress, and simplifying our lives, yet people are getting sicker and dying younger than in previous generations.  Technology has exploded in the last several decades in ways that should lead to the opposite.

From a purely Reiki-based viewpoint, our Chakras, or energy centers have a great deal to do with how we interpret and approach life. Imbalances in our Chakras, as with imbalances in the body, mind, and spirit, in general, contribute to our thoughts, words, and actions that form our life patterns. In Reiki sessions when I find Chakra imbalances, aural interruptions, and the like, clients often open up and share their deepest thoughts and fears. Beginning the rebalancing process gives the client fresh insight and information to work toward breaking free of long held patterns that have not served well.

Each of the 7 major Chakras is largely responsible for our interpretations and responses toward life situations, the Divine, and our view of self.  Imbalances in our energy centers will eventually affect the body leading to physical and/or emotional illness. It is my firm belief all illness originates with stress, whether due to continual worry or anxiety, abuses of the body in terms of poor health habits, or neural interruptions and blood flow blockages due to subluxations requiring chiropractic intervention.

We are not meant to live anxiety-ridden lives, filled with overwhelming responsibilities and relationships built on drama and superficial involvement. We were designed to live in relationship with the Divine, while at the same time plant our roots deep within the earth to ground us in the here and now.

Our medical model has created tunnel vision; we get sick so we treat with medicines, surgeries, and chemicals. We want a quick fix, to feel better right away, and in many cases we are only putting a bandage on the root cause of the illness. The awakening process is beginning, however. People are beginning to see the need to establish a real and evidential relationship with the Divine. New-to-us healing modalities are explored and used by many to improve their lives and relationships, and by doing so, illness is addressed from the cause, not the result. Even the hospital system I work for recently sent some of their critical care nurses to learn energy healing methods to help with pain control; an otherwise traditional medical setting opening their minds to viable interventions to address the needs of body mind and spirit.

Daily stress and fears originating in the mind eventually manifest in the body as illness. We are bombarded by advertisements for the latest medications to treat the top ailments of humanity. The newest technologies and treatments meant to comfort us should we be one of the unfortunate ones to develop a dreaded disease, also instills fear of developing the diseases. We are told we have genetic connections to some diseases and illnesses, and often we psychologically embrace this information where it becomes part of the unconscious and soon it develops.  

Sound too simple? In my 50 plus years on the planet I have come to understand we are the ones who make life complex and challenging; God did not have complexity in mind when He created man. The Bible tells us Yeshua (Jesus) healed all manner of illness. The infirm were made well when He “laid hands” on them. I have come to believe one of the the methods of healing was through “energy healing” as we know it today. Yeshua was Divine incarnate, taking the form of humanity to walk among His creation and teach. When those of us in the energy healing arts work with our clients we are conduits, or channels, for Divine energy. Yeshua was and is the Source of all healing energy; His healing’s were often immediate.

God, in the form of Yeshua, came to live among His creation for a time to teach by example and method to those who would receive. The Bible, however many times it has been massaged and modified by man, still contains the teachings of Yeshua for spirits, living in bodies, having a human experience, in other words, humanity.  Some of the Biblical stories as we know them have been embellished, but I believe the core message remains in tact. In Mark 5:34 Jesus is walking through a crowd of people and notes someones has touched His robe. He finds out a woman, sick for many years and at the point of hopelessness, had touched Him believing if she could, she would be healed. The woman was instantly healed. When she admitted she had been the one who touched Jesus’ robe, He said, “Daughter, your trust has healed you. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Notice, Jesus did not take credit for the healing, nor did He heal the woman, as organized religion often teaches.  Healing is always a joint effort originating with us; intention to receive healing, positive thought and word to create the reality of healing, and walking forward in health.The woman believed, in other words, her intention was set on healing rather than infirmity. She had decided she would no longer be ill; her thoughts and words would mirror her intention for health. The remainder of the statement Jesus made was to “go in peace”. Peace is a by-product of relationship and connection with God, or the Divine Source of love. (I am by no means suggesting this is an easy-peasy task, it isn’t, but there are people alive today, including myself, who have experienced physical healing when the medical world had exhausted all their options)

Reiki, as well as other energy or complementary healing modalities, are often criticized by church-going, Bible-believing folks and said to be “from the devil”, a form of witchcraft, or any number of derogatory statements. I have never personally known, nor heard of an energy or complementary medicine healer who believed a healing was of their own doing. All intentions boil down to heart motivations, and the transference of Divine energy through the energy healing modalities is no different. We are taught to welcome the presence of the Divine, of God, as we open a session with a client, ever mindful the Divine energy is the healer. By the same token I have been to “Healing Explosions” and “healing services” conducted by fundamentalist Bible believers who credit God with healing anyone who receives. How is that different?

The opening of minds will continue as many more accept there is a reality outside the box of accepted theory and practice. Churches, experiencing fewer congregants, will adjust their myopic thinking or be forced to close their doors. The lines between religion and the spiritual will blur as each side realizes there is no need for opposition, all healing comes from God. The lines will blur within healthcare, as well, between accepted practice and complementary modalities. Healing is more than a pill…..

A Tapestry of Divine Love…..

Lately, I have been interested in the study of angels, specifically  guardian Angels and Archangels. The accepted theory in spirituality circles is that we all have guardian angels, at least 2, and we have access to the Archangels of God. Certainly, organized religion recognizes the presence of angels, but not in the personal way seekers of spirituality do. The Bible says  “for he (God) will order his angels to care for you and guard you wherever you go.” (Psalm 91:11 The Complete Jewish Bible) Sounds like guardian Angels, to me. Churches I have attended taught angels and demons were part of the spiritual realm and continually at war over our souls. If we are to live by “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (I John 4 The Complete Jewish Bible) would there be reason for continual battle? Would we even need angelic help?

In January of 2017, a well known New Age teacher of Angel Therapy, Angel Readings, and the like, experienced an encounter with Jesus while attending a church service. Consequently, she has done a complete 180 in terms of philosophy and denounced most of what she taught over the years. Typical of mankind’s knee jerk reaction to anything new, controversy ensued. The New Age world was shaken. Once over the initial shock, many were angered, felt betrayed, and accusations flew. Two sides to every story exist, so I read the New Age interpretations of the conversion and I listened to the video said Angel Teacher released.

The New Age world was right in that she did make a dramatic swing and landed knee-deep in the Bible and church life. By the same token, from her video explanation my takeaway had more to do with her overall acknowledgment of Jesus as the incarnate Divine, not as one among many of the “ascended masters”. She had read the Bible cover to cover several times since her chance meeting with Jesus, and set aside many of the teachings she had formerly believed however, she made the distinction between what she now believed to be acceptable to God versus unacceptable based on method and heart motivation. After listening to her explanation I don’t believe she “threw the baby out with the bath water” as many adherents to New Age have said, rather she has chosen to give Jesus His rightful place as fully human, fully Divine Lord. To clarify, she is very much like every newly “saved” Christian I have ever met, drinking in and absorbing every word of the Bible and pretty much unable to speak or write a complete sentence without including a “praise Jesus”, or a scripture reference. I cannot fault her for that, many of us were like that in the beginning of our “walk with the Lord”. One day while I was listening to her radio call-in program a caller described her as a “bridge” between New Age and religion. Her mission, as she sees it now, is to bridge the gap between New Age philosophy and Christianity.

I have never believed anything in our lives is accidental or coincidental. There is purpose to everything under the sun. Up until I heard the radio broadcast I spent a fair amount of time contemplating my purpose, for lack of a better word, to explain why I felt driven to be the voice for those of us who have done the organized religion gig, do not fit in, yet have a desire to seek higher spiritual truth, to know and journey with the Divine. In that moment as I listened to the caller, everything came into focus. The sum total of all I have shared through writings and speaking with others is to bridge the gap for those leaving organized religion or seeking spirituality apart from religious Christianity. I never believed the two were mutually exclusive, yet nothing I ever read or heard up to that point confirmed the belief.

The world is a school as we live out our lives on earth. Do we all learn the same way? What makes sense to me may not resonate with you, and vice versa, but neither is fully right or fully wrong. Each of us is given a thread of knowledge as we seek and journey within the Divine. Some threads are heavier, some delicate, others brightly colored, and still others, muted shades to complement the colorful. From the threads of various sizes and colors a beautiful tapestry is woven. The tapestry is the Divine in the fullness of love. The path we pursue is what makes sense to us; if the path doesn’t enlighten or fulfill, we may not be on the best path for us. The only caution is, make certain the path is bathed in love; there is nothing negative on a path to the Divine.

In my mind, the once New Age teacher of Angel Therapy added to her understanding of the Divine; she was given another thread for the tapestry. Today, her perspective is unique, a blend of both sides of the fence; neither side is fully right or fully wrong. It is from our human, or ego-self we demand others to choose sides. Psychologically speaking, humans tend to make huge pendulum swings in times of change, eventually making our way back toward center. I expect the Angel Therapy teacher will do much the same. A grounded, or centered spiritual-seeker will allow others to walk their path without judgment. We all need to be in that place of non-judgment; both Christian and New Ager, praying church-goer and meditative spiritual seeker…..


God Bless Us All…..

All around the world there will be families celebrating Christmas. A global celebration, of sorts. A time when families come together to eat, drink and be merry, children open gifts from Santa Claus, and peace on earth reigns. Well, not quite!  It’s a lovely thought, but life isn’t a Hallmark Christmas movie!

Recently I was listening to a spiritual radio call-in program and the host was talking with a caller who was trapped by memories of her past. The woman’s story wasn’t unlike many of ours in that she had been the product of a dysfunctional family, and then dragged the dysfunction into a marriage that ended poorly. Now she was lost in a vortex of misery and confusion trying to figure out who she was and her purpose in life. Clearly, she needed to move on, but couldn’t seem to see the patterns in her life generated by fears that continually led to negative outcomes.  The host listened, asked a couple of questions and then said, “We cannot walk into our future until we have left the past behind.” A profoundly simple statement and the reason many of us are “stuck” on the gerbil wheel of disappointment and failure.

As sentient spirit beings having a human experience we needn’t stay bound to our pasts. When we continually look backward it is impossible to be in the now and visualize a future. Why do we put ourselves through the misery? It’s almost a form of self-punishment. The past has passed, nothing can be done to change one second of our past, so why dwell on it, and I don’t say that lightly. So what if the past wasn’t something you did, rather was done to you? Same difference. It is unfortunate, unequivocally wrong, for anyone to willfully inflict emotional or physical pain on others, and yet the outcome is the same; nothing can be done to change the the outcome or the pain. Our efforts need to be concentrated on things we can change. We can change the reality we currently live in, and in turn,  change our future. To live bound to the past means we willingly give control of our lives, in other words our power, to the people and situations we were living with or in at the time. Changing current reality involves carefully listening to our thoughts and words; these thoughts and words are the chains holding us captive.

Every person, event and situation in our lives is a learning experience; nothing more, nothing less. Journey with the Divine to higher spiritual awareness involves growing, and sometimes the growing process is painful. We are challenged to learn from the people, events, situations and, yes, even the pain, but we are not compelled to drag them behind us like balls and chains. The knowledge and wisdom gained is meant to provide the foundation for our present, and tools to manifest a more positive future. It’s not easy, nothing worthwhile is.

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol, particularly the 1951 black and white version starring Alistair Sims. Scrooge is a miserly, miserable old man who despises Christmas until he is visited by the spirit of his deceased business partner destined to roam the earth forever for his wicked ways. Ghost Marley warns Scrooge of his fate should he continue to be miserly, consumed with money, and detached from others. Three spirits would visit that very night, Marley warned, affording Scrooge one final chance at redemption; the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

The Ghost of Christmas Past reminds Scrooge of his young years. As a child, Scrooge was sent to boarding school, abandoned by his family, and spent his childhood Christmases alone. Grown-up Scrooge chanced love with Belle who, seeing his obsession for money taking first place in his heart, ended their engagement on Christmas Eve. Apparently, Belle was the straw that broke his back. From then on he despised Christmas, the celebrations, the merriment, and the money spent on what he considered frivolous. He was mean-spirited to everyone, not caring a wit for his employee, Bob Cratchit, Bob’s sickly son “Tiny Tim”, nor his nephew Fred, the only child of Scrooge’s one sibling who is now deceased. Enter the three spirits.

The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back to his childhood to witness the loneliness experienced at the boarding school during the holidays, and to revisit the scene when his beloved sister Fran comes to get Scrooge and bring him home because their father has had a change of heart and wants to reunite with his son. Finally, he will  witness Belle, his once-betrothed, breaking off their engagement on Christmas Eve, followed by an older Belle with her husband concerned for Scrooge’s consuming hatred for all things except money. Each stop along his past begins to soften his hardened heart. Safely back in bed Scrooge awaits the next ghost.

The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge that money isn’t everything. People are blessed to have family, a meager feast and warmth. Even the Cratchit’s are thankful for the little they have and their time together. Tiny Tim, despite his infirmity, unselfishly asks God’s blessings on others, “A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us every one.” The ice thaws a bit more in Scrooge’s heart. In its own way, the second Ghost teaches Scrooge the lesson The Grinch Who Stole Christmas learned when he attempted to stop Christmas from coming to Whoville by stealing all of the trappings of the holiday, not realizing the meaning of Christmas has little to do with the material world.

The third and final ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come remains silent, yet the message comes through loud and clear. The future for all of us is dependent upon choices we make in the present. Each of us has the opportunity to change the course of our future, or remain trapped in misery. The Ghost appears as a Grim Reaper-like character. The first scene is that of a funeral where some local businessmen are making light of the deceased and crude comments about the unlikelihood of anyone giving a care. Scrooge feels some degree of empathy for the dead and asks the Ghost to show someone who is grieved because of the passing of another human life. He is shown the Cratchit family mourning the loss of the beloved Tiny Tim. The final scene is a lonely, overgrown graveyard where Scrooge learns the identity of the dead; to his horror it is Scrooge himself. Overwhelmed by the revelations of the Ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come, Scrooge begs the Ghost for another chance to change the course of his life away from the path he has trod so many years. Kind of makes one feel sorry for him. The story ends with Scrooge having  made a complete 180 in attitude, grateful for the redemptive opportunity.

It isn’t likely ghosts will visit any of us, but the point is Scrooge learned only he could change his future. Dickens’ was telling a story, yet we have the very same opportunity in our lives. Change is often difficult and painful. Most of us would rather stay trapped in a familiar cycle of misery than chance the possibility our lives could change course. Why? One word: fear. We fear the unknown. Change involves twists and turns in the path and the twists and turns can frighten us.

Scrooge recognized his love of money and hatred of Christmas and ultimately people, all resulting in a cold heart. There was a definite pattern in his life of getting knocked down, and in response, hardening his heart a bit more. His core issue was fear of rejection and his response to rejection was to reject others first. Realizing it was his last chance Scrooge opted to look past the fear, put people above money, and reach out in love. There was no guarantee any would accept his offer given his past, only possibility existed. He didn’t stop to analyze, “what if they reject me again, then what?”, he just forged ahead.

We like stories to end on a positive note and Scrooge’s story did. He overcame fear of rejection and found acceptance and love on the other side.

Christmas, for many, is a time of renewal as we anticipate the upcoming new year that follows. Are fears in your life hindering growth, keeping you trapped, and robbing you of a full life? Set the intention in your heart to overcome a fear, and journey into the new year with thoughts and words to change the fear to possibility. Merry Christmas, and in the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us all…..”