Category Archives: Spirituality

Accepting Life’s Divinity

Copyright 2017 by R.A. Robbins

“It is best to emphasize again and again that spiritual awakening has nothing to do with reaching a divine state. Rather, it is the acknowledgement that every moment is about accepting life’s divinity.”

― Steve Leasock

So what have you learned?

Copyright 2017 by R.A. Robbins

We know that many are still dealing with the virus and we will be living with the aftermath of this for some time to come.  The immensity of the loss of life, jobs, homes, and financial security has not quite hit most of us yet.  There will be much grieving for some time .  But today I want to talk about what we have learned from this international crisis.

We all know some people have spent this forced “time out” being angry, frightened, bored, hoarding food and supplies, or even profiting from the misfortune of others.  Who will ever forget the empty store shelves and the “toilet paper crisis?”

But others have been enjoying the chance to rest, decompress and spend more time with family, learning new information and skills, or just taking the time to do those things at home they never had time for.  Some have even used this time to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

People have prayed, meditated, forgiven, and asked for forgiveness. We have discovered new ways to come together and still reach out to others in spite of “social distancing.”

Authorities tell us the virus has temporarily reached a peak, but that it’s not over and will return. The government tells us we must return to work for the economic well being of all, as long as we do so with certain precautions.

My hope is that in the days to come we will not just go back to “business as usual.” Instead, let’s learn important truths from this experience — both good and bad.  I hope we will come out of this situation better people who have taken the time to work on ourselves while also finding new ways to help and connect to others and are ready to come together to create a world that works for all.

As I close this month I want to leave you with a few questions:  What has changed for you?  What have you learned?  How will your life be different?  What do you want to see continue when we are past the crisis?  Let’s talk!

We are returning to our regular blog posts, but I will relate them to what is going on in our world as appropriate.  Tomorrow we will begin a month of posts on communication.  How does this relate to the circumstances we are currently living through?

So, be safe as we enter into May. Please make your comments on these posts and quotes and let’s start a conversation.

 

An ever present help

Cloudy Sunrise #3
Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

 

[c]—Psalm 46:1-3 The Bible, NIV, accessed through Bible Gateway.com

 

Living Through Uncertainty

The COVID pandemic has certainly shown us how quickly our world can be turned upside down, hasn’t it?  Things change from week to week, day to day and sometimes hour to hour.  I watched as churches announced online on Friday that they would still be holding services only to find themselves scrambling on Saturday to keep the flock together and informed as they were closing their facilities to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The uncertainty has brought out the best and the worst of us all.  We have seen everything from people hoarding toilet paper and fighting over hand sanitizer to people looking for ways to reach out to elderly friends and family.  We have seen churches activating phone trees to keep in contact with members and pastors taking their ministries totally online, speaking to a camera instead of a congregation.  We have also seen reactions from the extreme of fear-mongering to saying there is no danger and encouraging people to behave irresponsibly.

It is perfectly normal to be afraid in times like these.  I am not even going to pretend that I don’t have my moments of fear for myself.  I also have concern for others in my senior community, many with compromised immune systems.  But I know I cannot let that fear consume me.

Believe me, it is not easy; but this is a time I have to continue my spiritual practice and trust God.  As someone who always has to be doing and helping others, I also have to ask, “What is mine to do? ”  — right now, in this situation.

This time of uncertainty is also a time of great opportunity.  If we will use it, many of us will now have the chance to slow down, rest and connect with our higher selves.  We have time to strengthen the spiritual practices (prayer, meditation, affirmations, study) we may have been getting lax in, so we will come out of this even stronger and have better ways of coping when the next crisis comes.  We have the opportunity to get creative with new ways to keep in touch with others and maintain a strong sense of community and belonging.  This is the time to learn new things, new ways of living and being.

If we focus on only surviving this time of great uncertainty things will be just as chaotic when the next great earth-shaking event (or even just a small one) occurs.  With the world changing as rapidly as it is now, uncertainty is a given.  How will we cope?  Will we stay stuck to the things that used to work?  Or will we anchor ourselves firmly in faith and practice as we prepare for the next great adventure?

As in any situation, it is all up to you.  We cannot always control our circumstances, but we can control what we think and believe about them and how we react.  What will your choice be?

This month we will be talking about living through uncertainty.  Please feel free to talk about how you are living in these uncertain times.

 

Choices

Choices.  Which one is the best?  Which one do I want?  Just choose one.  I want both — don’t make me choose one.  I don’t want either — don’t make me choose one.  Sound familiar? These are the kind of thoughts we have all had while trying to make choices.

While we all enjoy having the freedom to make our own choices actually choosing can be difficult.  There are times we really wish someone else would choose for us.  But that rarely works out, does it?

So why can it be so difficult to choose?

Fear of making a mistake/fear of the consequences.  What if I make the wrong choice?  What if my choice just makes things worse?  Do I really want to be responsible?  Am I ready to live with my choice?

Both choices appear equally good.  In this case, we may wish we could have both.  Sometimes we can have both, like a scoop of ice cream on a piece of our cake.  Other times we really do have to choose just one good thing.

Both choices appear equally bad.  There just wasn’t a good choice.  People of all political persuasions were saying that after the last U.S. Presidential election.  When there doesn’t appear to be a good choice we can always regret the choice we did make — even if the choice was not to chose.  If you choose not to choose you are giving other people the right to choose for you.

Peer pressure.  It can be difficult to make a different choice than it appears everyone else is making.  This happens when we live differently than those around us as well as being the lone vote for or against something in a group decision.  Making choices can be lonely.  But sooner or later we all have to choose — something.

Please join us this month as we look at some of the choices we make and how we make them.  Feel free to leave your comments below.  Give us some tips on things you use to make the decision making process easier so everyone reading these articles could use them. I would love to get a discussion going about this.

Pray for Peace

Every year on New Years Eve I invite you join me in praying for world peace.

We pray to change ourselves so that we may become instruments for peace.

We visualize a peaceful world which works for all.

We see peace.

We become peace and the world is changed.

 

To Follow Jesus…

Copyright 2017 by R.A. Robbins

“Those who aren’t following Jesus aren’t his followers. Its that simple. Followers follow, and those who don’t follow aren’t followers. To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus into a society where justice rules, where love shapes everything. To follow Jesus means to take up his dream and work for it..”  — Scot McKnight

For more information on Scot McKnight see:  https://www.theopedia.com/scot-mcknight

Dig a Little Deeper:  How do you take up the dream of Jesus and work for it?

Peace in the Storm

“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” — Matthew 8: 23-27 23  The Bible, NIV, Accessed through Bible Gateway.com

In this story we see those four little words Jesus said often during his time on Earth.  “You of little faith.” I can hear the exasperation in his voice as I read them.

I learned a lesson about trusting God in the middle of a storm in August when a major storm hit our community.  I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of trees falling all around me and headed toward Bob’s study where he was working.  When I got to the living room the lights went out and I could hear the ominous low growl of thunder and see the flashes of lightning.  I could also tell the wind was blowing very hard still hearing trees crashing down.

It was at that point that I had my 30 second panic, screaming and crying, sure it was tornado and that we would die.  Bob finally made his way to where I was in the dark and guided me to the couch where we sat with our arms around each other and the cat on our laps riding out the storm.  As a sense of calm came over me I started singing, “blessed quietness, holy quietness…” I remember how Jesus had rebuked the storm and told our storm to “cut it out.” It finally ended and we learned it was likely not a tornado but straight line winds of 120 mph.  Although the area around us looked like a war zone we had no real damage.

If we trust in God storms will be calmed.  So when those physical storms rage around us or internal storms rage within us let us take a few deep breaths and remember the words of Jesus to his disciples, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

Dig a Little Deeper:  How have you experienced calm in the storm?

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

Today we are looking at the story of Jesus and “the rich young ruler” from the Gospel according to Matthew.

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.  —Matthew 19:16-30 NIV  accessed from BibleGateway.com

This is another one of those teachings of Jesus no one wants to hear.  After all we all want to be materially rich, don’t we? Some churches even teach that God wants you to be rich.  Not achieving material wealth may even be seen as a sign of spiritual “failure.”

But what did Jesus have to say about material riches?  He said that it is very difficult to follow him and to enter the Kingdom of God because you have to give up everything.  Not only material wealth and possessions but also earthly relationships and responsibilities. Why? Because these things not only distract us from our relationship and dependence on God, they may even replace it.  When this happens all those other things become our god to be not only sought after but worshiped.

Verse 30 is the clincher in this whole teaching.  “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”  Those who work to claw their way to the top may find that in the end they have nothing spiritually. Likewise those who are poor in the eyes of the world may have amassed great spiritual riches.

This is an area where I believe many churches have been led astray and have led their followers astray.  Throughout the gospels we see Jesus’ disdain of the rich.  Jesus did not teach the “gospel of wealth.”

Dig a Little Deeper:  Following Jesus is costly.  It may require you to give up your money, your possessions, your job, even relationships.  Are you ready to do this?

Healing and Faith

 

“14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Many times we get so caught up in the divinity of Jesus that we forget that he was human in every way as well.  I can relate to the humanity of Jesus, especially when he gets really ticked off. It is a great comfort to me that Jesus also experienced frustration with the world.  In addition to the “how long shall I put up with you?” I hear something like this. I try to teach these people, but they don’t listen.  I try to show them how to live, but they don’t believe they can do it.  They could be healing people like they see me do, but they can’t because they don’t believe.  How long O Lord, am I going to have to put up with these people???

The way of life exemplified by Jesus is meant for all.  The teachings, the lifestyle, the faith, love and peace, the healings — all of it.  So why aren’t we doing it? Jesus said it over and over during his ministry. You do not believe.  You do not have the amount of faith of even a tiny mustard seed.

Somewhere along the way we lost sight of Jesus as teacher and way-shower.  Jesus became a god to be worshiped and following his way became seen as impossible.

When Jesus healed what did he say?  “Your faith has made you whole.” We have faith in education and teachers, medicine and doctors, money and those who control it.  So why can’t we have faith that the power of God can flow in and through us to bless, heal and live the way we were meant to?

The cultural indoctrination we go through that teaches us that we are powerless, limited, weak and sinful and can be very hard to overcome.  I struggle with it daily. It is important for us to remember we are God’s children, created in the image and likeness of the creator of the Universe.  We believe that we were stripped of our power and position in the family of God with the fall in the Garden of Eden. But Jesus came to remind us that there is still a better way and we can follow it if we only will.

Dig a Little Deeper:  What keeps you from being able to follow the life of Jesus?  What limits your faith?