Spirited Communication

Category: faith

Getting Untangled

This week I brought in my Christmas decorations from outside my home and the power cords and timers that I used to light them at the appropriate time. I only had a short time to do that and so I piled the decorations, cords and timers on a workbench in my garage.

Today I finished packing the decorations and cords. When I looked at one 100-ft. power cord, I saw it was a tangled mess.

The cord was still functional; if I plugged it in it would provide power to whatever I plugged into the other end. But because it was tangled, it was more difficult to use. It couldn’t stretch to the distance that it was made to reach.

Isn’t that like us when we get tangled up in emotional and spiritual dilemmas? We can’t stretch ourselves to think and do some things that we are made to tackle.

Just like I had to work to untangle the power cord, we sometimes have to untangle our hurts, habits and hangups with the help of friends, family or professionals.

I felt so much better when the power cord was neatly wrapped around the holder. If you’re feeling tangled up today, use your faith, friends and family to begin loosening whatever is entangling you.

An uncluttered home, mind and soul is so freeing!

New Day, New Year

This is the view that I captured this morning from my daughter’s kitchen window in Tucson, AZ. What a magnificent image that captures the awe and excitement of the new year.

Regardless of whether or not you set resolutions for 2024, each day will bring opportunities and challenges, beauty and sorrow, activity and rest.

I’ve recently had a spiritual boost by joining a Christian church that brings a powerful worship experience and relevant sermons soaked in biblical truth. My 2024 will include intentional effort to walk closer with my Lord and to appreciate His many blessings, including sunrises and sunsets.

Happy New Day and New Year!

Why Not This Day?

January 1 of every year marks more than the beginning of a new year. For many people, it is the start of a new commitment to improve diet, fitness and/or mental/spiritual growth. It is a day to change.

I gave up New Year’s resolution long ago after growing tired of dealing with the emotional and spiritual turmoil that occurred when I inevitably gave up on whatever goal or promise I had made. I’m not disciplined enough to change most aspects of my character and habits. However decades ago, I successfully surrendered to some that were particularly damaging by using a simple set of spiritual tools available in a program of recovery.

That program focused me on living just one day at a time. It taught me not to obsess on the past or the future, and to develop a relationship with the God of my understanding. By seeking God’s will for my life and asking for the power to respond to whatever God seemed to want me to think, do or know, my life is more grounded and manageable.

I still have specific unrealized goals and dreams that stress me because they are not yet realized. The biggest one is my novel-in-progress.

The difference between what I have accomplished and what I have not is primarily the result of actions I either have or have not taken.

While I’m not making a resolution to complete the unrealized goals that remain top of mind, I have taken action on them today. I won’t worry about tomorrow until it comes.

What action can you take today to move into the will of God (or HIgher Power) if you have such a relationship?

Positive changes can come, if we work on them.

Why not this day?

While the World Thinks of Candy Bunnies, Or Nothing at All

Sunday, April 12, 2020 is just another day in COVID-19-ville for many people. For others it is the day when they can finally enjoy watching their children hunt in the home or backyard for plastic eggs filled with candy and other treats.

But for me and thousands of other disciples of Jesus Christ, today is a day to celebrate the unthinkable: The power of God unleashed to bring the glorified body of Jesus to life!

Luke 18:32-33: “He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

On Thursday, I and other believers reminded ourselves of the day Jesus was betrayed by one of his 12 disciples, arrested and found guilty in three sham trials. The next day, we sadly and uncomfortably considered the excruciating pain that Jesus endured during his death on a cross. As many know, but some do not, the word “excruciating” is rooted in the Latin and tied to the manner of Jesus’ death.

This is the official etymology from the Oxford English Dictionary:

Etymology:  < Latin excruciāt- participial stem of excruciāre , < ex- intensive (see ex- prefix1 1b) + cruciāre to torment, < cruc-em cross.

Yes, Jesus’ death became the model for a word meaning agonizing pain or anguish.

All of that misery and sadness turns completely today as we joyfully celebrate Jesus’ triumphant resurrection and fulfillment of scripture.

I’m not someone who typically enjoys being called to chant some phrase during worship. For example, I cringe every time someone on my church’s worship team exclaims, “God is good,” knowing that the rest of us are expected to reply, “”All the time.” It seems too forced.

The church does have a history of chanting, “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed” on Easter. I won’t quibble about the value of recognizing that statement as an expression of belief on this most special Christian holiday. I would say, though, that I don’t say those words like the fact of Jesus’ resurrection is breaking news.

We know it. We’ve grown up believing it. Just like Christmas celebrating Jesus’ birth, Easter is an annual celebration of his miraculous fulfillment of prophesy and God’s affirmation of Jesus’ righteousness.

This conclusion of Holy Week reminds me deeply of what caused the need for Jesus’ death (our sin and inability to atone for it ourselves) and what his resurrection promises believers (the right to be called children of God).

That’s not news; but it IS “Good News.”

Happy Easter!

‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Movie Quotes Ring True After the Florida School Shooting

Maybe it was weird for me to choose last night of all nights to finally watch the award-winning, but extremely violent movie, “Hacksaw Ridge.” But in the wake of the news of yet another tragic school shooting in Florida, two quotes from the movie almost shouted at me as I heard them.

In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons. — Company B Soldier: [Quoting the Greek historian Herodotus]

No one who hears of the shooting rampage yesterday by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz should brush off the assertion that we are, indeed, at war. We are at war against violence, untreated mental illness and the weapons that make it so easy to exact carnage on dozens of innocent lives.

The Associated Press reported that Cruz, an “orphaned 19-year-old with a troubled past and his own AR-15 rifle was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning following the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.”

I’m not anti-gun ownership by licensed, trained and responsible citizens. At least I support ownership of handguns and hunting rifles. But I do not support the sale and availability of semi-automatic rifles. To anyone who wants to state that criminals will continue to find ways to purchase semi-automatic weapons, I can only point out that Cruz reportedly purchased his AR-15 rifle legally. It HAS to be harder than that!

Violence is the evil that we must fight. Yes, “Hacksaw Ridge” included graphic violence that was difficult to watch and hear. It wasn’t easier this morning to hear the stories of two high school children who witnessed the Florida school shootings up-close and personal.

Student Samantha Grady choked up on “The Today Show” when she was asked how her classmate, who was shot as they hid in a school classroom, was doing. “She didn’t make it,” Grady blurted out between tears. A boy interviewed on the local news described walking along a school hallway and seeing two girls on the ground, dead, holding hands.

In “Hacksaw Ridge,” the main character, Desmond Doss, is a conscientious objector who saved 75 men in Okinawa, during the bloodiest battle of World War II, without firing a single shot. Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist, believed that the war was just but killing was wrong. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon. He became the only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for his actions during WWII.

Doss was misunderstood and harassed by his military leaders and fellow soldiers. But when it was time to act to save lives, Doss acted with more courage than anyone could ever expect.

I believe that his statement, made during a military trial launched as a result of his refusal to bear arms, is especially poignant for us today.

With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.— Desmond Doss

God and Country

At a time when the

At a time when the “separation of church and state” has challenged the rights of soldiers and military chaplains to openly share their faith, what will the new “rallying cry” of our nation be, once “God and Country” is removed from the national consciousness?

Is the United States that exists on the 2015 Memorial Day Holiday fundamentally different than the country that I, my parents and grandparents knew as young adults?

If we were tasked with communicating the meaning of this holiday and its significance to our culture and national well-being, would we craft radically different messages depending on our racial, religious, political and historical viewpoints?

What does “God and Country”–the rallying cry in past generations—mean today?

The Memorial Day Holiday began three years after the end of the Civil Way. It was called “Decoration Day,” and was an organized event to place flowers and small U.S. flags on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. After World War I, the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all U.S. wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday, and the congressional act placed the holiday on the last Monday in May.

Since then in my lifetime, we’ve had contentious wars that split the loyalties of Americans who either supported or opposed our involvement in military actions. Opinions remain divided over the necessity to have risked our military in Viet Nam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan and other global hotspots.

That division has been exasperated by people who link U.S. military aggression to geopolitical manipulations based on, or directed at, religious groups. One example that I’ve seen expressed: “George W. Bush was a Christian president who led us into the Iraq War to subdue Muslims.” Is that true? More to my point, is that the entire story—even if that statement could be accurate?

The United States that was formed more than two centuries ago by a conglomeration of primarily Judeo-Christian leaders and fighting men has become home to a much different mix of citizens who represent a variety of racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds and belief systems.

A change of population naturally introduces ideas, beliefs and opinions that challenge the “status quo.” I consider that healthy, and I have always supported and appreciated our nation’s fierce defense of individual liberty, freedom of speech and the right to be represented, even when you are not the majority.

I’ve read that World War II was considered a “just war” that pitted God-respecting nations against regimes that considered their leaders to be “gods”—at least above the people who served them.

More recent wars have raised the question whether God has been used as a reason to wage war.

On this Memorial Day, consider what will happen when (and I mean “when,” not “if”) the United States is attacked by an aggressive force originating from outside of our borders. Are we U.S. citizens now too divided because of our differences to fight together?

Is “God and Country” now too contentious or outdated a rallying cry to be effective?

What should our national rallying cry be?

Reducing Emotional and/or Spiritual Clutter

Emotional and/or spiritual clutter isn't as apparent as physical clutter, but they can be even more harmful.

Emotional and/or spiritual clutter isn’t as apparent as physical clutter, but it can be even more harmful.

I shared seven tips for reducing physical clutter in my previous post. As I said in that post, it is easier to hide clutter when it is emotional or spiritual in nature. It also is a more complex matter than is reducing physical clutter such as straightening a closet or desktop.

Physical clutter is an undeniable reality to most of us. Even hoarders can be convinced that their chosen lifestyle needs to change.

That isn’t necessarily the case with people experiencing emotional or spiritual clutter. Emotional and spiritual clutter can lead to negative and damaging behavioral choices, but it isn’t always clear that someone’s struggles are rooted in emotional or spiritual clutter.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, clutter is “to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.”

Emotional and spiritual clutter can impede movement or reduce effectiveness of one’s career or entire life. Think about friends or coworkers you have known over the years who seemed to “sabotage” relationships or jobs. They may have had an overabundance of emotional clutter that overwhelmed them and led to their acting irrationally or inappropriately.

Don’t get me wrong: I know that we all are emotional beings, and can have a momentary emotional “meltdown.” I’ve had plenty of them! I’m suggesting that we all gauge our level of emotional clutter, through self-examination and feedback from trusted individuals such as friends, family, or a counselor. We want to look at the possibility that we are impeding our growth and effectiveness because of emotional clutter.

Spiritual clutter is more difficult to discuss here, because my audience includes people who identify as Atheist, Evangelical Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Humanist, Wicca, Agnostic and Whatever They Read This Week.

Someone who doesn’t have or accept spiritual beliefs won’t see the need to remove spiritual clutter from their lives. Most of us, however, have considered questions such as,

  • “Where did all matter come from?”
  • “Do we have a spirit, a soul, an essence that continues after our bodies die?”
  • “Is there one or more divine beings that created and rule the universe?”
  • “Why do evil, death and decay exist—and can they be reversed or eliminated?”

Spiritual clutter occurs when someone allows their thoughts and minds to be filled with scattered thoughts that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.” To me, that would include people who spend way too much time reading, talking and thinking about the many religions and belief systems known to mankind–without ever weeding out those that don’t make sense, or demand belief without evidence of believability.

As a Christian, I believe that God is manifested in three equal, distinct parts—one of which is a Spirit. I believe that the Spirit indwells believers and can provide guidance and understanding. No, I do not have scientific evidence that this is true. I say it to show why some people seem to be able to cut through the clutter of spiritual questions. We have help.

Consider reducing your spiritual clutter by taking time to list out your beliefs, and stop investigating religions or belief systems that don’t bring you a sense of peace, or that just don’t make sense.

 

As Part of ‘Spring Cleaning,’ Remove Clutter

Physical, emotional and spiritual clutter can take a toll on us!

Physical, emotional and spiritual clutter can take a toll on us!

“It’s interesting to see that people had so much clutter even thousands of years ago. The only way to get rid of it all was to bury it, and then some archaeologist went and dug it all up.”
― Karl Pilkington, An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington

What would an archeologist dig up 1,000 years from now if he or she found your home or office?

What would a counselor dig up if he or she talked with you about the physical, emotional and/or spiritual “clutter” currently in your life?

Use today as an opportunity to begin to remove clutter from your life.

“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.”
― Victoria Moran, Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty

Blog Closed Today Due to an Empty Tomb

Easter cross display at Joy MG_2503

A nun prays during the service at the Our Lady of Consolation Church, which was attacked with grenades by militants almost three years ago, in Garissa, Kenya Sunday, April 5, 2015. Easter Sunday's ceremony was laden with emotion for the several hundred members of Garissa's Christian minority, which is fearful following the recent attack on Garissa University College by al-Shabab, a Somalia-based Islamic extremist group, who singled out Christians for killing, though al-Shabab has a long record of killing Muslims over the years. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A nun prays during the service at the Our Lady of Consolation Church, which was attacked with grenades by militants almost three years ago, in Garissa, Kenya Sunday, April 5, 2015. Easter Sunday’s ceremony was laden with emotion for the several hundred members of Garissa’s Christian minority, which is fearful following the recent attack on Garissa University College by al-Shabab, a Somalia-based Islamic extremist group, who singled out Christians for killing, though al-Shabab has a long record of killing Muslims over the years. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

We’re celebrating Easter (Resurrection) Sunday today, and no message that I could write would be as important as the message that came about 2,000 years ago from an empty tomb.

That message can bring hope, even in times of terrible suffering and injustice, such as the massacre on Friday in Kenya.

I hope that you today are safe and enjoying the company of friends, family or caring strangers!
 

This Aerialist Learned Early Never to Say ‘Can’t’

Perhaps the most inspirational and surprising speaker today at Craig Duswalt’s Rockstar Marketing Bootcamp was aerialist Jennifer Bricker.

Born without legs, Jennifer was adopted by an Illinois couple who stressed to her that a forbidden four-letter word for her and the family was the word, “can’t”–as in, “I can’t do it.”

Jennifer Bricker, aerialist

Jennifer Bricker shares inspirational thoughts with Craig Duswalt and hundreds of attendees at Duswalt’s Rockstar Marketing Bootcamp.

Raised in a family that instilled confidence, self-worth and compassion, Jennifer developed an interest in tumbling and gymnastics that eventually would lead her to earning recognition as the top high school gymnast in Illinois.

But wait…as marketers say…there’s more!

It turned out that Jennifer had a biological sister that she had never met: Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu!

Watch this clip from “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel for information on how Jennifer, even without legs, became a power tumbler, volleyball player, and aerial performer.

During a Q&A session with the Rockstar Marketing Workshop attendees, Jennifer shared what she does when faced with a tough challenge. “I pray, pray pray,” she said. “God is bigger than any problem.”

© 2024 Tom Keefe

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