Saturday, March 24, 2018


Maturity is the fruit of conscious choice and proactive living. It is not attained passively. No one drifts into maturity. It is characterized by humility, introspection and compassion. It is fundamentally a gift from God, as is all of life. The mature mind recognizes the power of the ego and its primal selfishness, and looks to God, Who loves all, to overcome it. The world distracts from the important journey of maturity; but it also is the arena in which God is knocking on the door. Immaturity results in unfulfillment. This unfulfillment is God knocking on the door. God commands us to love, and as we choose, over and over, to both receive [from God] and give [to others] this love, we grow in maturity. This is a process that might be described as waking up. Reality and the spiritual principles of life have never changed. But God has given us the awesome gift of freedom, and the responsibility to rise up, through conscious choice out of the mundane, routine, self-centered life; to survey the horizons in search of Truth. And there is One Who stands at the center of history Who welcomes us and proclaims that He is the Truth. He demonstrates and imparts wisdom and maturity to all who are strong enough to submit to Him. When we bow to Christ, we enter into a new realm of existence--we are "born again" into the awakened and awakening life of eternal Spirit. Our  eyes are opened to the realities of good and evil, and we are empowered to walk in Light. This Light is peace, joy, abundant life and especially Love for God and man. We wake up and realize that we have never been outside the domain of the Creator/God, Who is Love. We realize that the universe is a manifestation of Love, and that even evil is being allowed because of Love. We find our fulfillment and joy in being a conscious manifestation of God's Love--in abiding in His Spirit. We enter into the eternal Life.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Emotional Dys/Regulation

One primary result of adverse childhood experiences {ACEs, which I encourage you to research} is the inability to regulate emotions. We know now that the parts of the brain that are connected to the "fight, flight or freeze" reactions are exaggerated during prolonged exposure to adversity such as violence or threat of violence, neglect, addicted parents, abuse, abandonment, etc. The growing child becomes programmed for drama, fear and reactionism. Those neurons in the brain that serve to protect the self against threat become over-active, and this dynamic does not quickly subside when the threat is no longer present.  The child's brain, in its developmental state, is much more adaptable and malleable than the adult brain, and the programming continues into adulthood. This is why every caring adult should be aware of the importance of providing our children with a stable, nurturing, safe, secure and attentive environment. This takes adults who are capable, compassionate and unhurried enough to pay attention to children. It takes a hundred units of love in adulthood to accomplish what one unit of love accomplishes in childhood. Thankfully, God is infinite Love!
How does one overcome this emotional dysregulation that causes so much turmoil and difficulty in relationships? One must first come to know that he/she is dysregulated. This means that one assumes his/her responsibility for the processing, the living out of those emotions, and seeks a loving, trustworthy, compassionate and strong set of friends, church members, therapist, mentor and/or guide to begin to resonate with. Information is not enough. Information about a foreign language does not enable one to speak it. One must immerse himself in the language until it begins to flow within him. This is what I mean by "resonate." The Bible says "I have calmed and quieted my soul. As a baby at its mother's breast is my soul" [Psalms 131:2 RSV].   To experience the inner reality of those words is a doorway to emotional regulation. To discover what it means to "be still and know that He is God"[Psalms 46:10].  In this holy stillness one discovers or enters into an inner realm [that is also beyond the self] that is and can become more and more of a refuge or sanctuary from the emotional hurricanes that have been driving one's life and behaviors. She can then practice re-entering this place, or perhaps better stated, staying in touch with this Reality, when she is blindsided by one of life's crises, or when the events occur that used to evoke the reactive and counter-productive drama. The Holy Spirit is manifested in her in the form of "self-control"  and "peace" [Gal 5:22-23]. The process of regulating our emotions is challenging and life-long for all of us. It is the work of Love, and must be inspired [in the literal sense of that word] by the Holy Spirit, Who is Love [Phil 2:13] [1 John 4:8].

Decision Making and Dilemmas

Sometimes we feel trapped in situations where we must make an important decision and we know that there are very potentially difficult consequences with both decisions. In this situation we look deeply and carefully at both sets of consequences, as well as the desired outcome [why we are making the decision and what we hope to gain]. Fear of consequences will keep us from looking deeply into them; and we may recoil in fear from what would be the best decision! And frequently, without realizing it, what we really fear is our reaction to those consequences because we do not trust ourselves to handle them well. This is a lack of faith: the faith that gives courage to face down all fears in pursuit of Truth. In faith we can ask God, Who gives wisdom liberally to all who seek in sincerity and humility, and Who always guides us in the most loving direction, in the healthiest sense of  the word "loving".  Then we know that we can deal with the difficult consequences of our decision, because we will be, as we are now, abiding in Christ--in the Spirit. In Christ we can do all  things, even deal with those consequences. We will have access, in fact we will be abiding in and living through the Spirit that continues to love people no matter how unenlightened by His Spirit they may be. We will be in the Spirit that is powerful enough to love its enemies, and that supplies self-control in emotional circumstances.
Some people read this and have an inner sense of the Reality of "abiding in Christ" or "in the Spirit". Others do not, and will perhaps turn away confused or nonplussed. For those who want to try to understand what it means [inwardly feels like] to abide in the Spirit of Christ I encourage you to simply study His life and teachings in the New Testament. If you have read this far, I would say you are capable of making your own independent decision about who or what He is,  [ I capitalize the pronouns of His name because of what I have discovered Him to be] and need not fear being "brainwashed" into some cultish theology. But this may not be the time for you to experience this Reality--this Awakening. That time must come like the ripening of fruit; it cannot be pushed forward by man. It can only be received. It is a gift of grace. This grace can come, however, by the reading of the Word, so I invite you to give it a try. An honest reading of the New Testament can be a powerful experience, even from the literary standpoint. I don't think one could call his education complete without doing so, considering the powerful way it has permeated and transformed humanity and human history.
All our decision making is taking us into whatever future we are creating for ourselves. It is obviously wise to seek Divine Wisdom . We have seen what humans can create. When the Love of Christ is our guiding principle, we begin to create heaven on earth.

Friday, March 16, 2018

ACE Recovery

We know now, even from physical evidence presented by MRI's, that the brain gets wired in early childhood in ways that hinder or facilitate emotional regulation and the capacity to connect well with others. The magnificent brain can, however be rewired by the disciplined use of the mind. We now also know that it is not just the brain that creates the mind, but that the mind can rewire the brain--and this shows up on MRIs also!
Prayer, meditation, Bible study and comprehension, hymns and spiritual songs, collective worship, chosen compassion and loving service---all these are magnificent ways to rewire the brain and stabilize volatile emotions. They don't necessarily work as quickly as a pill, but the side effects are actually positive, and the long term results are outstanding, with a very low relapse rate when practiced consistently.

Overcoming The Enemy

A young couple that I am seeing who are not very far along in their psycho-spiritual growth reveal in their somewhat primitive naivety [I say this with love and respect--no condescension or criticism] an aspect of humanity that stands out in bold relief in their communication.  They are most comfortable with each other when they are criticizing someone in their social circle; and they do much of it. Someone in their circle has done something "stupid" or "rude", and they find much comfort in talking rather incessantly about that person. When the focus of conversation shifts to them, they unwittingly drag themselves into conflict with each other about everything under the sun, until they come back again to agreement about someone else's incompetence or inadequacy.
It seems like a universal principle that humans can often only unify against a common enemy. Many human groupings are organized against something or some other group. And the more heinous the enemy is perceived, the more cohesive the group. Some energy is therefore exerted in the group to vilify the opposition as an unconscious means [or perhaps a conscious means] of maintaining the momentum of the group. It is the group's responsibility and opportunity to understand the motives of the "enemy", and to discipline themselves to receive whatever truth may be coming from the other side, thereby avoiding unnecessary polarization and useless conflict.
More profoundly, this human tendency to demonize opposition as a way to feel connected and derive meaning points toward the importance of what the Bible says about the human condition:

For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war,
for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ...2Cor 10:3-5
For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12
What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? James 4:1

It is enlightening to consider that the word "devil" derives from words that mean "to accuse or slander"--commonly used techniques to vilify the "enemy".   The Bible teaches that humans have a common spiritual enemy, and until we awaken to this Reality, we will continue to be deceived by that enemy; and the manifestation of this deception will be "wars and rumors of wars" and fightings among ourselves. The Holy Spirit of Christ is and has ever been the only secure remedy to this malady, in all human relations. He teaches us to love our enemies and to courageously confront the evil that causes unnecessary human suffering. The battle must be spiritual, involving Holy Spirit- guided introspection, recognition of one's own "sinful nature" or "dark side,"  and a sincere commitment to the work of Love--the Love of Christ. This leads to peace, even in the midst of warfare.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Marginalized Christianity

I think it is a matter of grave concern that American society is generally not interested in the Christian message, or more precisely, in Christ Himself. This is certainly due to a number of factors, but generally people seem to be caught up, like lemmings, in the onward rush of  external advancement, neglecting the more foundational and necessary level of spiritual advancement. This results in Christianity being relegated to the margins of society, which is repulsive to youth who want nothing less than to be marginalized, resulting in churches full of elderly people watching sadly as society withers from lack of Living Water while their children worship human idols or get lost in the darkness of addictions, depression and meaninglessness.  Christianity becomes then like a hard-shelled seed, containing Life, but lying on hard ground that cannot receive a root. As in nature, where some seeds require a fire to open and grow, society may require a "fire" of social ails in order to become fertile for the healing, life-restoring power of  the Love of Christ. There is in the Bible an infinite treasure of wisdom, prudence and understanding regarding all affairs of life. Yet we see people generally ignoring it, passing by the dusty copy on the shelf [or failing to Google it, which is a wonderful opportunity we now have!] as they swing from branch to vine like a monkey through the forest of daily life.

Discrimination: Ideological

Discrimination is defined as "the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex." I would add, "on the grounds of ideology". I think, as a nation, we are afflicted with ideological discrimination. By that I mean that we tend to judge the ideology of a person or group, label them, and either wholistically embrace them or dismiss them based on that label. Consider the labels "conservative" or "liberal". I'm concerned that it is a common practice to label a person or group "liberal" or "conservative" and then, unknowingly discriminate, in the unhealthy definition of that word, against that person or group, and basically write off, so to speak, anything that that person or group is setting forth. It is as if we see some ulterior regressive or malicious motive in that person or group, and fear that if we capitulate on any point, no matter how credible or helpful, we will be allowing culture to move in that regressive direction.  This could be based on a sincere desire for the common good, or on baser, more selfish motives. I think it is predominantly motivated by fear. In either case, the discriminatory process does not seem to be in the best interest of anyone, at least in the long run.  It generates the kind of polarization and gridlock we have seen in our government, but it is evident in our culture at large, not just in the political arena. Perhaps its presence in our culture is why it is prevalent in our political process.
We circumvent this regressive tendency by simply seeking and receiving what we believe to be True, in the altruistic since of that word, no matter what person or arena it is spoken from, and no matter how it affects the position or direction of power. I can be inspired by the loyalty [ if it is indeed evident ] of gang members without embracing any justification for criminal behaviors on their  part.  This brings to mind the other definition of "discrimination":  recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another;"discrimination between right and wrong."  This form of  healthy discrimination in regard to ideologies makes it possible for us to confidently avoid the other, regressive form of it.