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Christian Meditation is Like a Shower of the Mind

Candlemas Day

Marianne Stokes (1855–1927) Candlemas Day – Wikipedia

By Rhonda Jones

Each morning, usually before day-break, I tread to my meditation spot, an overstuffed comfy green chair in the corner of my bedroom. Some mornings it’s cold and I just want to hide under my covers, but regardless of the conditions, eventually I make my way to my chair, light a candle, wrap myself in a blanket, set my timer, and close my eyes. For the next 30 minutes I become completely absorbed by God’s word and his presence.

For me, Christian meditation is like a daily shower of my mind. It’s where I can dissolve any fears, worries, stresses, or the onset of negative or toxic emotions lingering near by. During meditation, I cast all of my cares upon the Lord and allow them to diminish in his light, Spirit, and love. To forfeit my meditation practice any one day means that my flesh has gotten the victory over my spirit and now sits on the throne. It is said that how we begin our day is how we often finish our day.

My meditation practice consists of slowly meditating on passages of scripture or inspirational texts. I call this Scripture Meditation. I meditate on the 23rd Psalms, The Lord’s Prayer, The Love Chapter, The Beatitudes and other verses that I have memorized and God puts on my heart. I begin each meditation session with the following prayer that I slightly modified from Psalm 19 of Praying the Psalms by Nan Merrill. It read it as:

‘But who can discern their own weakness? Cleanse me, O Lord, from all my hidden faults? Keep me from boldly acting in error; let my fears and illusions not have dominion over me! Then shall I become a beneficial presence, Freely and fully surrendered to your Love. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favor in your Heart. O my Beloved, my strength and my joy!’

During meditation, I slowly graze over the scriptures in my mind, and as I do I sink deeper and deeper into the peace, calm, and presence of God. Each time my mind wanders off in thought, fear, or anxiety, I turn my attention back to my scripture passage, keeping my mind on the Lord. The Bible says that ‘you will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.’

English: A Discalced Carmelite nun sits in her...

A Discalced Carmelite nun sits in her cell, praying, meditating on the Bible – Wikipedia

Jesus tells us in the Bible that we become what we think about or meditate on. Through meditation, we hide God’s word in our heart and that planted word begins to take root and grow a harvest of godly fruit. Each time we return our wandering mind back to the scripture passage, it’s the same as plucking up the weeds that want to invade out mental garden.

The benefits of meditation aren’t generally realized during the actual practice, though dwelling in God’s presence is definitely as added reward. The real benefits of Christian Meditation are realized throughout our day when we find that we are more loving, kind, patient, and compassionate or when we squash thoughts of fear or worry that come to steal our peace and joy. Just like we divert our attention from them in meditation, we do the same as we go about our daily tasks. Through meditation, we learn that we can choose what we allow in our minds. We can choose what we allow to rule over us. Meditation empowers us to ‘cast down every thought and imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Paul said that we are a slave to whatever we allow to rule over us. Too many Christians are ruled by the whims of their thoughts. Just like watching a television commercial that tells us we want a Mrs. Smith’s Cherry Pie and we run out and buy one, our unregenerated mind rules most us of. It says stay in bed and stay in bed. It says you’re depressed and we become depressed. It says sin and we sin. It says don’t forgive and we hold grudges. Christian meditation gives us the opportunity to become slaves of righteousness as we continue to hide God’s in our heart and crowd out the voices of illusion and deception. Through Christ-centered meditation, we also experience a deeper connection with God. As our meditation practice deepens we gain a greater capacity to know God, hear his voice, and experience him in a new and real way.

James 4:8 declares, ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.’ Christian meditation allows us to wash away the mental dirt and debris that we pick up each day. It helps us to break the conditioning, patterns, and falsehoods of the world and start each day clean, purified, and centered in Christ.

Teresa of Ávila, Ulm, Germany

Teresa of Ávila, Ulm, Germany – Wikipedia

Some people would never think to miss their morning shower or bath. I know people that spend at least 30 minutes in the shower or until the water turns cold. Then they spend another two hours doing their make up and hair. They wouldn’t dare leave the house until their outsides our fully together. But how much more important is it that we clean our insides from worldly contaminates. To miss this time in silence reverence to God means carrying around these mental and emotional weights for another 24 hours or until I decide to meditate again. I’d much rather wash them away, just like the water takes the dirt from my bodies and carries it down the drain. Starting my morning in meditation frees me from any encumbrances lingering in my unconscious mind. Through Christian meditation, my mind is swept clean and polished with the light of God’s word.

2 Corinthians 7:1 says, ‘Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement that contaminates either flesh or spirit.’ Through meditation, we become the observer of our thoughts and which gives us the power to eliminate those ideas that are contrary to our faith. Mastery of the mind is the only road to true freedom, for it is in the mind and thoughts that all things are created, ‘for as a man thinks in his heart, so is he,’ and ‘a good man out of the good treasure in his heart creates that which is good.’

Jesus said, ‘Come to me all who are weary and of a heavy heart and I will give you rest. Spending time with God in meditation, whether scripture, guided, or mantra, is that place of rest for me, for it is where I lay my burdens at the cross and then cloth myself with the Lord Jesus Christ. Each time I enter meditation I am covering myself in his Word, Presence, and Love. I am dwelling under the shadow of the Almighty. Each time I leave my green comfy chair, I leave cleansed, renewed, and restored and prepared to begin my day.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/religion-articles/christian-meditation-is-like-a-shower-of-the-mind-4053446.html

About the Author

If you would like to learn more about Scripture Meditation, see Free Scripture Meditation Online Course or get a copy of the Scripture Meditation Tutorial CD that contains a 75-minutes of detailed instructions and Scripture Meditation recording.

Since this article’s initial publication articlesbase.com has undergone some changes. We have left the original links intact. 

 Take Your Destinies in Your Hands, Osinbajo Advises Youths (sundiatapost.com)

 The $35,000 ‘meditation pod’ showing up at high-end spas makes the hardest part of meditation mind-blowingly easy (businessinsider.com)

 Pope Francis calls for Lord’s Prayer to be altered as current wording suggests God is capable of leading people ‘into temptation’ (telegraph.co.uk)

 Silicon Valley executives are paying thousands to fix a ‘crisis of the soul’ at a luxury retreat – here’s what they’re learning (businessinsider.com)

Mornings (chrishancock789.com)

 Recommend guided ’emotional release’ meditations? (ask.metafilter.com)

 Discovering the ‘four prongs of wellness’ at New Zealand’s most luxurious lifestyle retreat (telegraph.co.uk)

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Sacrifice, Service and “The Holy Helper”

Today’s tweeted story got me thinking about sacrifice and service.

So many people find themselves in situations where they feel called to make sacrifices. If this truly is a call from God, then it’s a beautiful thing that usually bears fruit in unexpected ways.

But there might be another type of person who plays the role of the holy person when really, they’re not that holy.

A while ago I wrote that I hadn’t been to Mass over the frantic Easter season, and that I might never go again. Well, that didn’t last very long. And I’m glad it didn’t. Yesterday I visited one of my favorite downtown Cathedrals and saw a person who, in my opinion, is fairly spiritual but also playing the role of “The Holy Helper.”

The Holy Helper brags about being a saint and how people, even strangers, ask for her prayers. But she seems to have a dark side. An unresolved dark side.

Some months ago at another parish The Holy Helper began swearing obscenities at an Asian lady seated in front of me. The Asian lady was calm but also a bit startled. She turned her gaze toward me as if to ask, what the heck is going on here?

I’ve known The Holy Helper for over a decade and have watched her become progressively strange. After cursing the Asian lady the HH began talking to me as if nothing had happened. I couldn’t endorse her behavior by ignoring it, and gently suggested that swearing at others in public is not a good thing.

Then I tried to tell her that I went through a challenging phase in my own spiritual development. I never swore at people in public, but was trying to help by sharing my own story.

Before I could get my words out, The Holy Helper became angry and indignant. She knew it all and I didn’t understand. I suggested she seek professional help. Moments later she started swearing at me. “You are a F***** Loser!” she yelled.

I was shocked and somewhat traumatized afterward. Fortunately another person gently ushered her out of the Church.

Yesterday the Holy Helper was back at the Cathedral. It’s sort of frightening when I see her. She hasn’t apologized so I don’t know if she’ll start swearing again. Maybe she’s gone even further over the edge and will assault me physically.

A sign that designates no swearing in a city.

A sign that designates no swearing in a city – Wikipedia

I doubt it but am not sure.

Keeping my phone set to “video” gave me some confidence. Afterward I wondered what I would do if I captured her on camera swearing at me or someone else.

Would I report her or just let it go again?

I feel that if someone is roaming around verbally abusing people, they should not be allowed to persist. They need help. And if they’re not going to get it themselves then some kind of intervention might be in order.

Why do I tell this story?

Well, partly because I’m somewhat annoyed. When I go to church I don’t want to have to deal with borderline personalities. I just want to pray and feel close to God.

I also feel that The Holy Helper is a great example of someone identifying with the role of being a sacrificial saint without giving due attention to her own issues. Hence, a lingering shadow of resentment builds up. A shadow that comes out in abusive ways.

Anyone could all fall into this kind of mindset if they are not honest with themselves. We’ve all heard stories of nuns slapping even burning children in their care, priests molesting kids, and so on.

Repression is a nasty thing.

On the other hand, sacrifice can be beautiful but only when in line with God’s will. Everything else is probably based on some kind of psychological compensation. Compensation means we play up real or imagined personality traits that make us feel superior because underneath, we feel inferior.

That’s not true spirituality. And if left unchecked, a subconscious sense of inferiority can unexpectedly flip into its opposite.

That’s when the innocent have to run for cover.


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Peace on Earth

Image via Tumblr / hymncharts.com

Image via Tumblr / hymncharts.com

Late last night there were just a handful of stores open in my area. I drove out to the all night pharmacy to pick up some last minute items for tonight’s feast. The rattle and din of the usual Christmas traffic had all died down. And I felt it. I finally felt it!

The Christmas spirit!

When I got home that magical feeling finally hit home. A quiet city. Children asleep in their beds, dreaming of new toys and, I guess in the 21st century, all the latest gizmos. Also to remember on a night like that are the poor who have no one to celebrate with. I wondered about a man at my parish who lives outside in the harsh winter cold. Was he desolate? Happy? I can’t know.

I recall one Christmas when I lived by a Salvation Army Mission in downtown Ottawa. One man who simply went by the name “Animal” yelled out loud Christmas morning,

IT’S CHRISTMAS!

That really summed it up for me. A street person, yelling out in joy, that is was Christmas morning. Animal knew what it was all about.

Merry Christmas to everyone who wishes to celebrate it!

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr


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Time for “religion” and “spirituality” to bury the hatchet

When it comes to a God, religion speaks of a higher being that is distant from humanity, one that lives in what may be another world, such as heaven. Spirituality stresses that God is within all of us, and there is no separation between humanity and this greater being. (Source: Article in above tweet)

Every time I see this distinction I get the impression that the person making it doesn’t really know what they’re talking about.

For instance, during Catholic Mass it might seem that some people woodenly go through the motions. To an observer they might appear to mumble words and sit or stand from sheer force of habit.  But a mere observer has no idea what’s going on inside their souls.

Speaking for Catholics, some of my acquaintances tell me about their ongoing personal experiences with God, graces, and the spiritual intercession of saints. God is very close for these Catholic churchgoers. Also, the belief about the Eucharist, which many Catholics receive daily, is that the heavenly Christ appears in the flesh, right here on Earth. And for many, that is not just the belief but also the inner experience.

Sometimes when I’m going to Mass and see some unhappy looking passersby near the Church, I’m tempted to say, “Hey Jesus Christ is arriving here in about 10 minutes! Interested?” But I don’t, of course, because I have a pretty good idea what the answer would be.

I bet if a full person, replete with head, arms and legs were to appear out of nothing and broadcast his showtime later that day, the venue would be packed with crowds overflowing out on to the street.  But because the Eucharist is a miraculous and subtle transformation/presence of inner substance but not of gross outward form, only some appreciate it, for whatever reasons. And I get the impression that most non-Catholics, especially non-Christians, just think the whole idea is silly.

Anyhow, I digress. The point is, it does no good to make a black and white distinction between religion and spirituality. Not only is it theologically misinformed but from my experience and from talking with other believers, it is misinformed on an experiential level.


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A Brief Guide to African-American Worship

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Dr Ty King

While the diverse cultures of the Christian world have their distinctive and beautiful approaches of worshipping, there’s something distinctively enriching regarding African-American Christian worship. We trust it exemplifies principal outlines of thought & experience that do much to praise it to Christians far and wide.

Anyone who has noticed or partaken in an Afro-American Christian worship facility will agree that there’s an indisputable dissimilarity between the manner American Blacks worship & the worship of other ethnic and racial groups. Embedded in their distinctive social past in America, the similarity is more one of function & experience in comparison to proof that one approach is better to another.

The custom of Afro-American worshipping together persisted to progress throughout the late nineteenth century and carries on to till date in spite of the turn down of segregationist approaches and the standard acceptability of integrated devotion. African American Churches in Charlotte, NC have long been the hubs of communities, serving as school locations in the early years following the Civil War, hosting social welfare functions, like offering help for the poor, and going on to established schools, or prison and orphanage ministeries. Consequently, black churches have promoted influential community organizations and offered spiritual & political leadership, especially throughout the civil rights movement.

Tasks of Afro-American worship:

With no posturing to being comprehensive, the following are some modern tasks of Afro-American worship and it must carry on:

  • To reproduce the collective experience of Afro-Americans without lessening the critical focus of worship admiration of & for divinity.
  • To contain inventive tension its unmistakable emphasis on fixing the injustices & disproportion in this globe with eschatological focal point on the life to come.
  • To find a balance between impulsiveness and order
  • To be commemorative without surrendering to emotionalism.
  • To empower worship and rejoice Christ.

Afro-American worship has played an important part in the Afro-American society. Slaves who didn’t discard their African spiritual legacy came to admit the God of their masters, devoting God initially in the Invisible Institution and afterward in their free cathedrals.

There was revised Christianity exceptionally suited to fulfill the requirements of their existential circumstance. A merriment of God’s redemptive deeds in history and on their behalf, their devotion offered them with pastoral attention, freedom, and empowerment. Music, prayer and the sermonized words are amongst the rudiments of their devotion, meant to carry on to be a “Balm in Gilead” for the rest of the journey.

Source: A Brief Guide to African-American Worship


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Merry Christmas!

The Flight into Egypt by Giotto di Bondone (13...

The Flight into Egypt by Giotto di Bondone (1304-06, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To celebrate Christmas I worked on a tune that started out as an exercise in exotic scales. There’s an app at Reaper.fm, the digital workstation that I use, that has countless scales. Probably more than anyone could ever use. So I picked a few that sounded good, tried to blend them together, and soon after realized that it was turning into an unconventional Christmas Story (musically speaking).

Just tonight on Christmas Eve I was watching a show about the flight into Egypt. How Joseph and Mary had to flee from the paranoid King Herod, who was killing all the firstborn because he got wind from the Magi that a King had been born. After a while, sitting in front of our Christmas tree, I felt that this tune sort of captured the flight.

Unconventional, yes. But then, so was Jesus Christ, who continues to be more radical (in a good way) than any other figure to have walked this Earth.

Merry Christmas to all who wish to celebrate this hallowed holiday. The lights and gifts are great. But they’re just symbols of something far greater.

Enjoy!

–Michael Clark


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The Peace Found in Forgiveness of Others

By Denny Smith

If you or I or any other were asked to compile a list of the ugliest traits of character that a person could have and that we run across in people I am sure that things like hatred, anger, bitterness, malice, and an unwillingness to forgive would all rank up there near the top of our list. People who possess these traits are not pleasant to be around. That is not to say they have no friends but only that the kind of person that takes up with them is very likely to share some of the same traits they have. And, I might add, one of the positive things about family is they are likely to love you no matter what so they will put up with you.

While I listed 5 traits it is easy to see how they are all related. Why is a person unwilling to forgive or lacks the desire to do so? Is it not because of hatred, anger, bitterness, and perhaps even malice (a sort of revenge motive of I will get even with you even if that mechanism is only by being unwilling to forgive).

Yes, we all have people who have done us wrong whom we have been very angry at, maybe bitter against, but I have never seen a time in my own life but what time heals and the things that seemed so great an issue at the time has over the years palled into insignificance and no longer matter. We are going to get hurt in life. That is just life. But, we also have to remember as we have been hurt so have we hurt others whether intentionally or not.

Why is it we take the hurts we receive to heart but see as insignificant things we have said or done to others (or even things we should have done as acts of consideration or kindness or love but failed to do)? Why is it we come to see everything as one sided as though it is the world against us but our purity is as of the new fallen snow without spot?

Certainly, there are some things that would be hard to forgive – adultery committed against us, desertion by a husband against his wife and children, physical abuse, lies told against us, hurts done to our children, etc. But, even so, where does holding on to the anger and bitterness and hatred get you? Does it bring you a happier life? Does it bring you joy? We all know the answer—it just brings greater suffering and sorrow, more misery, as we dwell more and more on the hurt we have received rather than a rebuilding of life that can bring joy and peace.

So far I have talked about the common experiences of man but we need to put a biblical perspective on these things not only because we are talking about Bible subjects but also because we are spiritual beings subject to the supreme spiritual being—God himself. It is not the physical man that gets hurt, who develops anger and bitterness and hatred and who is unwilling to forgive, but the spiritual man.

Man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). As we have received hurt at the hands of others we have to remember we all, every one of us, have hurt God with our own lives. This has been true of man from the beginning. “And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and he was grieved in his heart.” (Gen. 6:6 NKJV) This was because “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5 NKJV)

It is easy to say that was generations ago and times have changed, we are not that way today. Yes, easy to say but also easy to know we are deceiving ourselves when we do so. Paul said to Christians, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Eph. 3:30 NKJV) If a Christian can grieve God how about all those who know the truth of the gospel but will not obey it? Do you think they grieve God? If you think the one you will not forgive is your enemy do you think you are God’s friend all the while grieving him? So we see the one who will not forgive needs forgiving himself.

It would be good to hear some scripture on the subject of forgiveness and our great need to forgive others.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14-15 NKJV) “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25 NKJV) This forgiveness must be “from his heart” (Matt. 18:35 NKJV) which means of course sincerely.

If Jesus could have a heart of forgiveness toward those who were crucifying him, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34 NKJV), then surely no one has done such evil to you as that done to him. (I am not saying those who crucified Christ were forgiven without repentance and obedience to the gospel but only that Jesus’ prayer was from a heart desiring their forgiveness which came to many as they obeyed the gospel on the Day of Pentecost). How is our heart toward God and our fellowman when we relish hatred and enjoy the bitterness and anger that accompanies it? And why, why is that so? Why are we that way? Why would we rather destroy ourselves than to forgive? Is there any sense or reason to it?

There is comfort to be found in the Christian life in not only our own forgiveness by God but also the burden that is lifted from our heart when we from the heart forgive those we have so long held anger and bitterness against. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (‘harsh words’ in the NLT—DS), and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.” (Eph. 4:31-32 NKJV)

It is so much easier to live life when surrounded by people that are kind and tenderhearted and forgiving, people who are not out just for themselves, or just to get you, or just to get even and reap vengeance but rather people that care about you. No, life is better when you are able to say yes I need forgiveness myself and I will no longer hold anger or grudges against others but I forgive as I seek God’s forgiveness also in my own life.

It would be good to talk a little about God’s loving kindness and willingness to forgive. God gives us all hope. The apostle Paul was at one time a very evil man. He says of himself, “many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.” (Acts 26:10 NKJV) Yet, God showed him mercy and Paul later says concerning this, “But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Tim. 1:16 NLT)

Of those 3,000 on the day of Pentecost who obeyed the gospel and were saved that day Peter says to them about Jesus, “you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death,” speaking in reference to what they had done to Christ. Surely, if God would forgive them he will forgive you, me, and all of us if only we are willing to give up our sin. We need not live in hatred and malice and unforgiving of others as that is a personal choice. We choose to be that way. We do not have to be. No one forces us to be unloving and unforgiving and full of pride that will not let us repent.

David said, “Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalms 34:14 NKJV) It is a choice. “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath.” (Psalms 37:8 NKJV) God is ready to forgive. “For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you.” (Psalms 86:5 NKJV)

There is a passage in Ezekiel that we all ought to learn for even though it was written for another people at another time it is still applicable today (Rom. 15:4), “’Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,’ says the Lord God. ‘Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord God. ‘Therefore turn and live!’” (Ezek. 18:30 NKJV)

We will all be judge individually, “every one according to his ways,” so it is not what kind of attitude the other man has who we have it in for but it is our own attitude that we must account for. Repentance can save us, “Repent…so that iniquity will not be your ruin.” It is up to us as we can get ourselves “a new heart and a new spirit.” No, we do not have to be the way we are if we are unloving and unforgiving.

In closing let me ask a few questions for your consideration. Why did Jesus come into the world? Who sent him? Why is Jesus called the Savior? Why did he die on the cross? Has God given us a choice (free will)? Is it possible to change our attitude, our life, and our hope? Why do we choose to hate, have bitterness and anger, to be unloving and unforgiving? What joy and happiness do we find in that? Is there a better way of life? Can peace and joy and hope of life everlasting be found or is the way hidden from us?

I think we all know the answers to these questions so there is only one other question to ask. It is the question in the old gospel hymn we have sung since the days of my childhood which is now many decades past. It is the question, “Why do you wait o sinner?” “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2 NKJV) There is peace in forgiving and in being forgiven.

About the Author:

Visit Denny Smith’s web site dennysmith.net to read more of his articles and also listen to over 110 audio sermons on many different subjects from “Where Are the Dead?” to “The Weaver’s Shuttle,” to “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”

Article Source: The Peace Found in Forgiveness of Others