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Archive for August, 2011

Many of us have heard the parable of the farmer sowing seeds…”You reap what you sow, later than you sow, and more then you sow”.   Jesus tells the story of the farmer sowing seed and refers to our ability to absorb and produce fruit from the wisdom and unlimited potential…seeds…we have been given.   

Consider the process of forgiveness as that of the farmer who prepares his soil before casting his new seeds…clearing away the debris to create a rich environment for a new harvest.   He must take time and attention, lots of sweat, to till the land.  This is the hardest part of preparing the soil because he must diligently remove rocks and debris that would potentially keep the new seedlings from taking root.  The rocks…some small, some huge…represent the places within us that have hardened…bruised places that have calcified to “protect” us from further hurt.  The debris is the negative messages we keep repeating that cloud and clog our thinking.

God admonishes us to “not harden our hearts” because He knows that those hard places in our heart will impede our spiritual, psychological and emotional growth.   Cardiologists look for “silent” heart attacks by checking for “hard spots”…calcification of the heart tissue…which indicate silent ischemia that could lead to a fatal heart attack.   Identifying these hard places gives physicians the opportunity to help us extend life by treating the cause.

Forgiveness calls for letting go of the hurt…releasing the source of the pain that we protect with a hardened shell.   Like the farmer, we need to dig deep searching for all the hardened places and remove the stones, rocks and boulders.  It’s painful work to go to those places of disappointment, betrayal or abuse…for, as we remember, the pain becomes as fresh as it was the moment it happened.  We often feel that forgiving gives permission to others to hurt us, or that we somehow are condoning their behavior. 

I argued with God about this very point…why should I say it was okay by forgiving! “My little Beth,” He said. “Forgiveness is a way to release YOU from the pain.  When you forgive…let it go without judgment…you allow yourself to remember without feeling the pain.  Although you remember, it will not hurt you any longer.  Not only will it release you, but you will release the one who hurt you to be totally responsible for their own action.   By releasing them, they are free to turn to Me and be healed.” 

If you forgive but continue to feel the resentment, check the soil…there are still rocks and boulders lurking there.  Here’s the greatest boulder to remove… sometimes we need a CRANE to get this one out…asking for forgiveness!  Not only do we “accept an apology” from the other person either figuratively or literally, but we also ask the other person to forgive us for holding anger and resentment toward them…for holding them in darkness instead of in light. 

“WHAT?” you say!  “Ask their forgiveness for my saying and feeling they were wrong for hurting me?  But, they WERE wrong to hurt me.”  Abba says that forgiveness is not about right and wrong…it’s about letting go.  “Judge not lest you be judged” is the spiritual law.  It’s not about whether they were right or wrong…it’s about being hurt and being willing to let it go.  We mistakenly believe that holding on to the hurt will somehow protect us from being hurt again.   All it does is keep us in a dark space and in pain.  Forgiving the other person releases YOU by letting go of the pain and anger.  Holding on the pain and anger is akin to “eating the poison and hoping the rat dies.”   

The very action of ASKING for forgiveness from the other person for holding negative feelings toward them sets a spiritual force into action that heals you by breaking the negative bond and energy between you and the other person.  You know that you are truly released because you can now feel compassion for the other person…again, not right or wrong, just empathy.  The debris of negative thought is automatically cleared away by thoughts and affirmations of compassion and release.  You can breathe again!

This message from Abba was confirmed in a sermon on forgiveness by Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries.  Here are some notes I made from his message:
1.  Reflect on how God has forgiven you …remember specific events.
2.  Acknowledge…and be honest… about your anger, pain, and resentment toward others or even God.  Be specific about the person and the action.
3.  Let God know that you truly want to let go of your anger, but that you don’t know how.
4.  Ask God to enable you to forgive from your heart.
5.  Proclaim “By my will and the power of the Holy Spirit I forgive.”
6.  Tell the other person, “I have not had a right spirit or attitude toward you.  I ask you to forgive me for holding wrongful anger and resentment toward you.”
7.  When you get free….it sets the other person free.  You’ll know you’re free:
 –   Your harsh feelings will be replaced with compassion
 –   You can accept them for who they are
 –   You will thank God for allowing this to happen to teach you about God’s  awesome and powerful grace

Dr. Stanley concludes that “When your heart returns to the spiritual state of compassion and grace”…in line with the farmer parable…you are now open and free to receive.  Your “soil” is now ready to be prepped to receive new, fresh seed…the unlimited possibility that is your future and higher hope.

Once the farmer has removed the rocks and debris from the soil, he sifts it to let it breathe…remember, in holy writings “breath” is the Holy Spirit of God.  Once we forgive we breathe the breath of God and rest on His promises.  The farmer is now ready to add nutrients and natural materials that will enrich the soil and create a healthy environment for new seedlings to grow to rich fullness. 

Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are three of the most essential nutrients that a plant needs to grow…just as Faith, Hope and Love are the most essential nutrients for spiritual growth!  Potassium occurs abundantly in nature, being the 7th most common element in the earth’s crust.  Potash is added to the soil and plays an important role in helping plants to absorb potassium required to thrive.  It is a key ingredient in fertilizers that enhances water retention of plants, increases crop yields and plants’ disease resistance.   Consider that “water” is often referred to in the holy writings to indicate the renewal, restoration, and refreshing of our souls characteristic of the work of the Holy Spirit.  Our connection to the Holy Spirit…like potash to essential soil nutrients…allows us to absorb the wisdom and love that are essential to our spiritual and physical growth.  It also makes us more “dis-ease resistant”.

Peat Moss such as Canadian sphagnum moss, a soil aerator, gives new seed a better environment to begin the growth cycle.  Peat moss is a soil amendment made from partially decomposed sphagnum moss.  It is absorbent like a sponge, and although it does not contain nutrients, it holds nutrients present in the soil until plants need them.  It is the only soil amendment that helps soil achieve the proper balance of air and water, and also helps loosen dense soil and add density to sandy soil.  Sound familiar?  The Word of God is constantly available to us and the Holy Spirit makes all wisdom, light and understanding available to us as we need it…guiding us and teaching us.
 
Adding lime to the soil balances the pH keeping the soil within the healthy pH range of 6.0 to 6.9.  All foods needed for the seed’s growth are available in the amended soil in soluble form.  Bacteria thrive and do their vital work to unlock these nutrients and make them available to the seed when the soil has the correct pH range.  Also, certain potential poisons, such as aluminum, are locked up so they cannot injure plant roots.  When we trust God and act upon His teachings, our faith balances our lives and protects us from the poison of fear, anxiety and confusion.

Of course, the most important natural additive is manure.  In other words…”shit happens” may be one of the most important ingredients to spur spiritual growth.
“Crap”…as we often refer to it…actually enriches the soil with essential bacteria necessary to unlock vital nutrients.   Life’s “crap” demands that we choose to either trust God or NOT!  It’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.   It’s the CROSS…the place at which we choose to walk by faith or run by sight…to either follow the will and guidance of God or follow the demands of our self-serving ego to shriek, panic, stand like a doe in headlights or turn and beat it the other way.   When Christ challenges us to pick up our cross and follow him, he is inviting us to follow Him through that cross-point to the ever-higher, exalting consciousness of God.  It’s through those hardships…trusting and following God, experiencing His faithfulness and miracles for ourselves…that we rise to a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.  The powerful and personal experiences of God’s presence in times of “crap” cultivate and strengthen our faith and character.

It’s spring…not by a calendar, but by choice.   The springtime of our souls is an invitation to emotional freedom and spiritual prosperity.   God has awesomely and abundantly enriched our lives with the gifts he tucked deep inside each of us…like the promises of fruitfulness hidden inside a seed.   What is your freedom and joy worth?  How are old hurts and anger serving your life?  Are you mistaking them as your protection…a rock that can be a weapon or a wall to protect you?  Or have those rocks become your stumbling block…something you’re banging your head against… and a wall that locks you in?  How much more peace will you have in your life if you till your soil and remove those rocks and plant the new seed of a richer hope?

Choose to forgive.   Choose to allow the debris of negative thought to be automatically cleared away by thoughts and affirmations of compassion and release.  Choose to breathe again and know joy!

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I heard an awesome marriage counselor once say as his farewell greeting, “Stay in love!”   “Easy for him to say!” I muffed!  Staying in love is a great idea, but it’s hard work in reality…unless you understand what it really means to “stay” in love. 

Dr. Bruce Lipton introduced an interesting concept in his book, The Biology of Belief.   As a research scientist, Dr. Lipton explored the manipulation of DNA in petri dishes and, using identical stem cells, found that he could differentiate the cells  simply by changing the MEDIUM!   In certain mediums stem cells would form skin, while in other mediums the identical stem cell would form bone or other specific organs.   And it was based on the RNA in the cell…the PERCEPTORS…rather than the DNA…the blue print (or plan, you could say) for growth and life.

Fascinating!!  Just imagine…you and I…and the entire human race…are a collection of cells growing, changing, reforming, dying and, just as with the stem cells, we grow, change, die and reform daily based on our “medium”….our spiritual, physical, mental and emotional environment.    Dr. Lipton noted that when the cells perceived a toxic medium or environment they retracted and slowed their growth, but in a HAPPY medium or environment, they grew rapidly, unincombered…not only thriving, but prospering.    Key to this is process is PERCEPTION!   Like the stem cells, the RNA perceived and interpreted the medium and sent messages to the DNA to arrange or re-arrange the building blueprint.    How we perceive our environment…spiritually, emotionally, psychologically… determines how we grow.

So…is it possible that STAYING IN LOVE has to do with creating a “HAPPY MEDIUM”?   There may be more to that flippant adage than we realize.   From that perspective take a look at yourself…How is your MEDIUM??  What kind of medium/environment are you living in at work, at home, with family or friends, in your community?   How many times have you sought to find a “happy medium” when you and your significant other had a verbal tussle, or you and your sophomoric teenager or stressed out co-worker got into a spat?   How toxic is YOUR medium…or how HAPPY?   What are YOU doing to create a more prosperous, happy environment for those around you?    

We must intentionally create a “happy medium“, to seek and focus on the solutions…the “win-wins” in our daily interactions…a medium that provides the environment  for positive change and growth.   A “happy medium” calls for honesty, trust, a willingness to listen with the intention to understand,  respect  for self and others, and mutual caring about  the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of the people in our lives.   If we perceive that we are in a toxic relationship…feel unloved, criticized and indangered…we retract and defend.   Conversely, if  we perceive that we are in relationship with someone who is trustworthy, respected and respectful, caring, genuine, and safe we are free to change, expand and grow. 

THAT’S LOVE!   Love is a decision, not a feeling.   When we decide to love we seek a happy medium with the people who are important in our lives.   (Just think back to when you were courting and first fell in love…ANY restaurant would do if it meant you could be together!!)   We seek to  know and be known by people we trust and respect…true intimacy–no hiding or secrecy…to listen and reflect even in times of struggle.    We give and receive affirmation and encouragement because we desire to understand and stay in our LOVE medium.

So I, too, say in parting…Choose a HAPPY MEDIUM…”Stay in LOVE.”

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