Inner Wisdom: A Personal Narration of My Encounters With God In My Heart

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Brian Simmons! James W. We so appreciate the labor of love that went into translating the Scriptures directly from the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Brian Simmons contains deep treasures that can only be discovered through intense scholarly research saturated in Divine Revelation. Brian Simmons fulfilled both of these criteria so he could present to you this glorious gift. Keys to knowing the heart of God and His deep love for His people will fill you as you read and meditate on the scriptures.

I personally cannot get enough of this translation! It is beyond beautiful! My own personal devotion and study has been deeply impacted by The Passion Translation and I am grateful for what this work is adding to the body of Christ. It is a beautiful, moving read. Graham Cooke brilliantperspectives. Not only have I used The Passion Translation for teaching, but I have picked up certain books of the Bible and read them like a living novel.

I love this translation! Chuck D. Pierce President, Global Spheres Inc. Little did I know how eye opening this translation would be. No breath of suspicion arose against Molinos until , when the Jesuit preacher Paolo Segneri, attacked his views, though without mentioning his name, in his Concordia tra la fatica e la quiete nell' orazione. The matter was referred to the Inquisition. A report got abroad that Molinos had been convicted of moral enormities, as well as of heretical doctrines; and it was seen that he was doomed.

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On September 3, he made public profession of his errors, and was sentenced to imprisonment for life. Contemporary Protestants saw in the fate of Molinos nothing more than a persecution by the Jesuits of a wise and enlightened man, who had dared to withstand the petty ceremonialism of the Italian piety of the day.

Molinos died in prison in or An example of "scientific reason lit up by mysticism in the Church of England" [34] is seen in the work of Sir Thomas Browne , a Norwich physician and scientist whose thought often meanders into mystical realms, as in his self-portrait, Religio Medici , and in the "mystical mathematics" of The Garden of Cyrus , whose full running title reads, Or, The Quincuncial Lozenge, or Network Plantations of the ancients, Naturally, Artificially, Mystically considered. Browne's highly original and dense symbolism frequently involves scientific, medical, or optical imagery to illustrate a religious or spiritual truth, often to striking effect, notably in Religio Medici , but also in his posthumous advisory Christian Morals.

Browne's latitudinarian Anglicanism, hermetic inclinations, and Montaigne -like self-analysis on the enigmas, idiosyncrasies, and devoutness of his own personality and soul, along with his observations upon the relationship between science and faith, are on display in Religio Medici. His spiritual testament and psychological self-portrait thematically structured upon the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, also reveal him as "one of the immortal spirits waiting to introduce the reader to his own unique and intense experience of reality".

Arndt, whose book True Christianity was popular among Protestants, Catholics and Anglicans alike, combined influences from Bernard of Clairvaux, John Tauler and the Devotio moderna into a spirituality that focused its attention away from the theological squabbles of contemporary Lutheranism and onto the development of the new life in the heart and mind of the believer. Pietism as known through Spener's formation of it tended not just to reject the theological debates of the time, but to reject both intellectualism and organized religious practice in favor of a personalized, sentimentalized spirituality.

Eastern Christianity has especially preserved a mystical emphasis in its theology [41] and retains a tradition of mystical prayer dating back to Christianity's beginnings. The practice of Lectio Divina , a form of prayer that centers on scripture reading, was developed in its best-known form in the sixth century, through the work of Benedict of Nursia and Pope Gregory I , and described and promoted more widely in the 12th century by Guigo II. The 9th century saw the development of mystical theology through the introduction of the works of sixth-century theologian Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite , such as On Mystical Theology.

His discussion of the via negativa was especially influential. As part of the Protestant Reformation , theologians turned away from the traditions developed in the Middle Ages and returned to what they consider to be biblical and early Christian practices. Accordingly, they were often skeptical of Catholic mystical practices, which seemed to them to downplay the role of grace in redemption and to support the idea that human works can play a role in salvation, and which also seemed to come from post-biblical sources and practices.

Thus, Protestant theology developed a strong critical attitude, oftentimes even an animosity towards Christian mysticism. Historically, Christian mysticism has taught that for Christians the major emphasis of mysticism concerns a spiritual transformation of the egoic self, the following of a path designed to produce more fully realized human persons, "created in the Image and Likeness of God" and as such, living in harmonious communion with God, the Church, the rest of the world, and all creation, including oneself.

For Christians, this human potential is realized most perfectly in Jesus, precisely because he is both God and human, and is manifested in others through their association with him, whether conscious, as in the case of Christian mystics, or unconscious, with regard to spiritual persons who follow other traditions, such as Gandhi. The Eastern Christian tradition speaks of this transformation in terms of theosis or divinization, perhaps best summed up by an ancient aphorism usually attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria : "God became human so that man might become god. Going back to Evagrius Ponticus , Christian mystics have been described as pursuing a threefold path of purification, illumination and unification, corresponding to body soma , soul psyche , and spirit pneuma.

In , the 8th Ecumenical Council reduced the image of the human to only body and soul but within mystics a model of three aspects continued. The three aspects later became purgative, illuminative, and unitive in the western churches and prayer of the lips, the mind, the heart in the eastern churches.

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The first, purification is where aspiring traditionally Christian mystics start. This aspect focuses on discipline, particularly in terms of the human body; thus, it emphasizes prayer at certain times, either alone or with others, and in certain postures, often standing or kneeling. It also emphasizes the other disciplines of fasting and alms-giving, the latter including those activities called "the works of mercy," both spiritual and corporal, such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless.

Purification, which grounds Christian spirituality in general, is primarily focused on efforts to, in the words of St. Paul , "put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Holy Spirit" Romans This is considered a result of the Spirit working in the person and is not a result of personal deeds. Also in the words of St. Paul , " The "deeds of the flesh" here include not only external behavior, but also those habits, attitudes, compulsions, addictions, etc. Evelyn Underhill describes purification as an awareness of one's own imperfections and finiteness, followed by self-discipline and mortification.

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Because of this, in ancient Christian literature, prominent mystics are often called "spiritual athletes," an image which is also used several times in the New Testament to describe the Christian life. What is sought here is salvation in the original sense of the word, referring not only to one's eternal fate, but also to healing in all areas of life, including the restoration of spiritual, psychological, and physical health.

It remains a paradox of the mystics that the passivity at which they appear to aim is really a state of the most intense activity: more, that where it is wholly absent no great creative action can take place. In it, the superficial self compels itself to be still, in order that it may liberate another more deep-seated power which is, in the ecstasy of the contemplative genius, raised to the highest pitch of efficiency.

The second phase, the path of illumination, has to do with the activity of the Holy Spirit enlightening the mind, giving insights into truths not only explicit in scripture and the rest of the Christian tradition, but also those implicit in nature, not in the scientific sense, but rather in terms of an illumination of the "depth" aspects of reality and natural happenings, such that the working of God is perceived in all that one experiences. Underhill describes it as marked by a consciousness of a transcendent order and a vision of a new heaven and a new earth.

The third phase, usually called infused or higher contemplation or Mystical Contemplative Prayer [48] in the Western tradition, refers to the experience of oneself as in some way united with God. The experience of union varies, but it is first and foremost always associated with a reuniting with Divine love , the underlying theme being that God, the perfect goodness, [49] is known or experienced at least as much by the heart as by the intellect since, in the words 1 John "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.

Mystical Contemplative Prayer is the blessing for which the Christian mystic hopes. No human effort can produce it. This form of prayer has three characteristics. It can manifest itself in one of four degrees. The four degrees are the prayer of quiet, the prayer of union, ecstatic union, and transforming deifying union. Author and mystic Evelyn Underhill recognizes two additional phases to the mystical path.

First comes the awakening, the stage in which one begins to have some consciousness of absolute or divine reality. Purgation and illumination are followed by a fourth stage which Underhill, borrowing the language of St. John of the Cross , calls the dark night of the soul.

This stage, experienced by the few, is one of final and complete purification and is marked by confusion, helplessness, stagnation of the will , and a sense of the withdrawal of God's presence. This dark night of the soul is not, in Underhill's conception, the Divine Darkness of the pseudo-Dionysius and German Christian mysticism.

It is the period of final "unselfing" and the surrender to the hidden purposes of the divine will. Her fifth and final stage is union with the object of love, the one Reality, God. Here the self has been permanently established on a transcendental level and liberated for a new purpose. Within theistic mysticism two broad tendencies can be identified. One is a tendency to understand God by asserting what He is not and the other by asserting what He is. The former leads to what is called apophatic theology and the latter to cataphatic theology.

Scholars such as Urban T. Many mystics, following the model of Paul's metaphor of the athlete, as well as the story of the disciples sleeping while Jesus prayed , disciplined their bodies through activities ranging from fasting and sleep-deprivation to more extreme forms, such as self-flagellation. Many mystics experience visions.

But other sensory experiences are common as well. For instance, Richard Rolle heard heavenly music and felt a fire in his chest. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Samson was a womanizer. The Samaritan woman had a whole string of divorces. Zacchaeus had engaged in extortion. Peter was hotheaded, impulsive, and temperamental. Elijah was suicidal. Jacob was a liar and a schemer.

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Martha worried about everything. Noah got drunk. And God used each one despite their flawed personalities, their broken humanity, and their obvious weaknesses. There is truly a beauty waiting to be discovered when we begin to realize that God uses our lives, including our brokenness, our failures and our weaknesses. We can train ourselves each day to view things the way they are seen from above. If it can be raised higher, we cannot leave it below. Everything He made, He made with purpose.

What does it mean to practice the Presence of God? God is invisible. We cannot see God with our physical eyes, but only through the eyes of faith. Some can see God in the words of scripture and in the Universe He created - and in every living creature on earth.

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It isn't that practicing God's presence is difficult or impossible, it's just that few of us really try. We should know upfront that this is a lifelong practice; this schooling of the soul. Some days are easy, others are difficult. Man alone has free choice. All other creations do exactly what they are programmed to do, and cannot change their natures. The Bible says, God created man in His image Genesis Only the human being has the power to grow, mature and change, because we are a reflection of God, which is unlimited. Personal transformation realizes our holiness. And by our action and example, bring the spirit of holiness into the world.

Ask yourself if your desire for personal transformation is a call to "self-improvement" or a call in the direction of deeper transformation, one of spiritual insight? Of knowing God in a deeper way? God is always trying to speak to us. Can we let go of spiritual cynicism? Can we pluck up the courage to rebuild a new world - a place where God and planet will survive?

I like to think of a visionary God looking for hidden treasures among our tired and worn-out and discarded thinking. I like to think of God dreaming of our possibilities! The God who calls us to our responsibility for the world has promised also to be with us as we shoulder our part in it. Sit with the intent of connecting. Just sit. Simply being there is the prayer. And practice. Don't be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature. Practice just as you would to become proficient in anything else. So it is for us to know God, but not always for us to understand.

To become full we must first be empty. To receive we must be still. To fill ourselves with wisdom, we must proceed with wisdom. To receive blessings from Above, we must do all those things that draw blessings. To receive anything from Above, we must be still and quiet. Wisdom from the Likkutei Sichos.

There are many kinds of barriers in life; barriers from within and barriers from without. There are barriers to happiness like fear, self doubt and evil. Yet these have no power of their own. Joy can break down the barriers we create. What is Joy? Is it an idea, emotion, virtue, philosophy, ideal, or something else? Some of us seem wired for happiness. Others are not.

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Some look up at the sky and see only the clouds. Some evaluate every word said, always imagining what might go wrong. Dictionaries define joy as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, good fortune or the emotion evoked by the prospect of possessing what one desires. The world's definition of joy is often synonymous with the definition of happiness. It seems it is a characteristic of American culture to be obsessed with itself.

What makes us really happy? It may not be what you think. As we open up, we start to see beauty everywhere, not only in nature, but in human nature. Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment - which is perhaps the most important thing to finding and understanding joy. When Tutu and the Dalai Lama met, they spoke at great length about their understanding of joy. The Dalai Lama was 80 years old, and the Archbishop was Each of them had lived long lives filled with plenty of pain and turmoil. But despite their struggles, they both had found ways to gain a sense of peace, courage, and joy.

They agreed that - no matter what the circumstances of our lives may be - we have the capacity for true joy. The two most essential qualities of the heart that allow us to be more joyful - they both agreed - are compassion and gratitude. People say life has its ups and downs.

This is not fully true. Life is ups and downs. With every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them… Be grateful for whatever comes. Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

But joy is not. It is an internal laughter, and it discovers you! We all like thinking and doing our own thing. I live by my value system. You can live by yours, unless of course, it encroaches on mine. How often do you find yourself not knowing which direction to take? On top of that, what is good can also be very destructive, even harmful. You will see someday. The destructive tornado may bring needed rainfall elsewhere.

The best of cyber technology might also be used for cyber terrorism and crime. Does it? It cuts through all the rhetoric, all the arguments, all the politics, all the religious talk and gets to the heart of the issue. Most define good as what is good for them, evil is what is contrary to their will, believing that we each are masters of our own reality. Is the ego evil? Of course not. It is important to hold self-esteem, confidence in oneself.

God created a world in which goodness and evil are equal options, Our penchant for goodness is not greater than our proclivity for evil; we are evenly balanced. Neither intellect or faith alone can fully grasp ultimate Truth. The mind that fears faith will choose a truth which is most comfortable and likely self-serving. The mind that chooses to live by intellect alone may lack compassion.

To live by faith alone is naive. How can it be that a prayer goes unanswered? We trust God is good, yet we pray that things might change. We do not know why evil was created or allowed. We look at the headlines and see forces that challenge security and peace and seek to act on our own behalf. But separating good and bad from both physical needs and spiritual needs is counterproductive to both. Faith, hope and love are the navigating instruments used by the soul to become aware of the Unseen. Soul-light cannot be manifest if there is no faith to conduct it.

Do we have the desire to know a bigger God? To know the Divine as an experience not as a theology? Our birth, time and place, and circumstances is the hand we are dealt. How we play that hand is our creation. When it is all over, the union of our inner universe, our soul, and our outer world will be our greatest accomplishment. Create in us the will to create, God. That no matter the obstacles or the level of influence they hold, our response, our action will be to live in Your image; in the image of love.

Everything changes rapidly these days. What can we say that we really know - that we are certain and assured of? There is a universal spiritual awareness in humanity. The human mind, creativity, imagination and our ability to relate to one another indicate a higher force which is the author of these qualities. But, is it God? Innumerable windows exist through which we are able look upon the world for meaning.

Have you ever thought about how many things you believe without having seen or experienced them? Take gravity for instance. No one has ever seen gravity; its evidence is all around us, though we cannot explain it. There is no physical evidence to prove or disprove the existence of a Higher Power. Many believe God uses our circumstances to speak to us. In the Bible, He used a burning bush to speak to Moses.

The bush was on fire but not being consumed. I wish He would use one to talk to me sometimes. With a myriad of voices competing for our thought, how do we distinguish the voice of Spirit from all the others? The wonder, beauty, and complexity of the world points to the existence of a supreme force and intelligence which designed it.

Have the discoveries of scientist and technology spoiled the delight and romance of the stars and creation? Have they obliterated the mystery or replaced them with a different equation? Just as it is challenging to know who we ourselves are, little deep wisdom of what we truly know about God originates in the mind.

Yet, how deep the rift has become. It is no accident that we are here. There is great design in the universe. All designs imply a designer. We can flood the world with more and greater light, but that alone will not achieve the goal. Do you believe only what you can see with your eyes, hear with your ears, what can be measured with facts? Why should we demand that the universe make itself clear to us? Even those events that seem to thrust downward are in truth only a part of a much larger picture. Consciousness is our essence - our soul. It is our divinely created connection.

Most of us know fear. We know pain, anger and desire. In the midst of all of these - in the clutch of doubt, in the swirl of mistrust, in the intellectual debate, there is a Who, a What - its name is Compassion, Grace, Truth and Love. Transcending time, God has no beginning and no end. Religion and philosophy have too often allotted human beings a passive role in fate and future. What is the cognitive and spiritual value of insight? How do we move insight to action and give voice to the Divine?

What ought we do? According to Immanuel Kant, central figure in 18th century philosophy, this is the basic question of ethics. How we are to conduct our lives is not an academic problem but a human issue and choice we face at every moment. Trusting scripture has never required that it be read simplistically. In the long history of Bible translations there have been two standard approaches: translating word by word, or revelation by revelation.

Often, when scripture is reduced to whys and hows, it is also reduced to facts, which are a means but simply inadequate alone to knowing greater Truth. In many religions, gods, priests and spiritual leaders carry the message of the Ultimate, they are the holy ones. It needs more than sacred sentiments and good intentions. Freedom of choice has been granted, God does not induce or coerce us to do anything. Our deeds are in our own hands.

Who is going to fix this world? The politicians, the philosophers, the think tanks, academics? Real change is an inside job. We carry within the promise of the Imago Dei, God's own self-actualization through humankind, where our lives may be a fusion of the finite and the infinite, light and darkness, heaven and earth. With the raw ingredients of our days we must let nothing stop us. Our spiritual paths must include becoming vehicles to change. Integrating action into our practice of meditation, reminds us of who we are.

Each of our lives provides the opportunity for God to love through us; each of us a reflection of the Divine One. Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. The unexamined life is sad but surely worth living, but is the unlived life worth examining? Perhaps an unlived life is far more heretical than any philosophical or theological meaning in being alive.

God did not give us light to hold up in the middle of the day. We are given light in order to transform the darkness. God asks for our hearts and for our lives. We must let nothing stop us, reminding ourselves always that our essence is love. The pursuit of heaven - the pursuit of earth; one can spend a lifetime in either of these worlds. Where might they take us together? Our essence is love.

It seems our serenity is always being rocked. Sometimes, resilience is not about bouncing back, but a process of becoming greater. We fear for the economy, energy shortages, nuclear weapons, political instability, plus hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. As individuals, we can't control the next disruption or catastrophe.

However, we can control the way we respond to these challenges, manner in which we absorb the shocks of our world, and how quickly we spring back after a blow. Resilience is more than stamina, perseverance and an ability to stand strong and firm. The world is predicated on free choice. One of the first things that God offered Adam was the choice of eating from the tree of knowledge. Adam decided. We experience resilience when we are enlarged rather than diminished by our challenges.

When facing adversity causes us to change, we grow, and become greater. Resilience offers us the opportunity to deepen our relationship with the Divine. The biggest choice may be to allow what has happened to bring us closer to God. Every day creation is renewed. From darkness comes the light of creativity, the essence of God that is in each one of us who live in the possibility of this moment.

Alongside a river, a cedar tree and a patch of reeds grew side by side. The cedar tree was strong and proud; its enormous trunk and branches reaching far above the tops of the slender reeds below. Its majestic height and powerful appearance made the flimsy reeds nearby appear fragile and inferior. One day, a great storm came from across the river, and the strong winds blew with all their might. The cedar tree, as strong as it was, was toppled over by the winds; yet the reeds were still standing after the storm. Most of us develop hopes and expectations for our lives.

Resilience is that quality that allows us to be knocked down and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome us and drain our resolve, we find a way to rise. Resilience is not overcoming. Becoming more, becoming our fullest and deepest selves as a result of adversity. We allow them to be our teachers. God does not leave us in the dark. If we knew the answers, would our questions about heaven be settled? We know from literature, religion, and history, that humanity has speculated on the realm beyond physical life for as long as we have existed.

Many believe heaven to be a reward for a good life. For some it is a realm of creation where one will live in perfect peace and joy, free from cares, worries and pain. Evidence of heavenly grace is all around us but we created beings cannot readily perceive its hidden Source. We can only begin to imagine the Infinite through experiencing this amazing world. There is great joy in our effort to speak poetically of that which is sacred; and yet, where is the substance? There must be substance. Experiencing with our bodies, with our minds, we look deep within and deep without.

Somewhere, in the vast wilderness of our unknowing, we carry the promise of the Imago Dei; enlightenment and relationship between God and man. Heaven is not somewhere we might go. It is something we carry within; a dream we renew each day. If our hearts are inclined toward darkness we see the dark.

If they are inclined towards light we see light. Perhaps it is in the glimmer of this light that we might see in our meditation, a force beyond our tightly defined little worlds, waiting only to be welcomed in. Perhaps it is in seeing a light of hope, where seemingly there was nothing but infinite darkness and despair. It is when we learn to smile at the fussiness of our human egos, when at last we may experience the beautiful interconnectedness of all people.

We begin with wonder, heart and eyes wide open, to what the world is telling us. No amount of searching, no level of consciousness we attain, will reveal for us with certainty whether we are born as children of chance or part of a grand design. Would we have it otherwise? Would we truly want to take the mystery from the universe, from God?

Heaven is found in the little things. There is a Heaven for each of us and for every living existence in the Universe. That there are matters we do not understand is obvious. There is no need to search, we have inherited it and it is within us. A gift - along with the sweet laughter of a child, the goldfinch and duck! Is Beauty Ultimate Truth? Some think so. All knowledge begins with our senses. That which catches the eye often captures the heart also.

The recognition of beauty may be a starting point in knowing the Truth of God, and proof that incarnation is possible. Through Incarnation, God becomes accessible. God becomes alive to us. God reaches out to us; touches us. Incarnation is about God. It is also about humanity. A decade ago Pope Benedict addressed several hundred artists in the Sistine Chapel. Miriam dances for joy and plays timbrels in response to God's graciousness and liberation Exodus God has Bezalel bring together the artists of the community so that they can build a fitting tabernacle of gold, silver, stones, and wood Exodus As the ark of the covenant returns to Jerusalem, Israel shouts "to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals," and makes "loud music on harps and lyres," The psalms were composed and sung in response to a deep longing for God; they express praise for God's beauty and presence in all of creation.

The desire for authentic expression lives in our hearts. Beauty calls us, awakening us to see more deeply and proclaim these gifts. There is not one way to find our creative voices, to reveal the human heart. We all have the opportunity to proclaim Incarnation, to reveal the earthly essence of God within our unique and beautiful selves. And so a new year, new beginning, but still, the same question - how are we to live these lives of ours? As we enter the new year, many people focus on their identity; how to become a new and improved version themselves. What "spiritual" approaches go deeper than the mere making of resolutions?

In the beginning… there was everything. And then that thought exploded. Theologians and philosophers for centuries have made attempts to explain. Most of us have outgrown a fairytale faith; it's time we think of the grown up implications of Christmas. The skeptic might tell us to ignore the festivity and celebration of history because it is not imbued with facts.

The sacredness of any scripture is judged by the truth of its word, not by the proof of its authorship and inspiration. Our job is to grasp the inner vision and message. W e are the real deciders of what this birth will bring. There are no words. There is nothing to say, just the knowledge that "It is good.

It is very good," as said in Genesis One, the beginning of it all.

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This is an intention and design for our lives; to live in wonderment. To acknowledge that beyond our grasp; the Source. And then attempt to understand. Retro Future is an adjective used to describe the art of seeing and reflecting the past with an optimistic vision and version of the future. In truth, it is not only once a year, or with every new moon - but with each new morning we have the opportunity to begin again. Which is why there is always hope. Because at every moment life is born afresh.

We are called into God's creative, loving energies to co-create out of the raw stuff of each moment, the only real world there is, namely, the world of living and loving. May the bright symbolic light of Christmas beam a light into every conscious thought. Look deep into your January soul. What sort of a child will be born anew in you as we enter this new year? We love to think of ourselves as light-seekers, intelligent souls on the noble quest for truth!

Searching for a transcendent word in our vocabulary we seize upon "light. And so, we light candles during Advent. Not light to see by. Not light for any use at all. Pure light. Light that is forever. God chose light. He could have chosen darkness. The metaphor of light has become ingrained in the human psyche, a reminder of more dangerous times. In our ancient history men feared the night, not because of the darkness itself, but for what darkness was associated with: savage beasts, challenging conditions and invaders of all sorts.

For us, Advent observances take place at the darkest time of the year, ushering in a period of reflection on losing our way in the uncertainty of dark and divisive times. We all know the power of darkness. How much greater though, is the power of light. In every human soul there is implanted a certain element of God's own Spirit and Divine energy. This: "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. Light illustrates, emphasizes, and expands the abstract idea of truth. Allow yourself to meditate at a much deeper level and amplify the messages.

Clearly Jesus did not bring light to the world simply by being born as a baby. Peace and joy are not about what is happening to us. In every human soul there is implanted an element of God's own Spirit and divine energy; the birthing of Christ in our own hearts. The soul of man is a lamp of God whose purpose in life is to illuminate the world. May we renew the story of Christmas with every telling, bringing it to life and light in the imagination of our souls. In ancient times, God gave His people hope by speaking to them through the prophets.

He revealed what was to come and told of the great blessings they would receive. Yet, all yearn for insight and long for truth. Spare us the platitudes about heaven being in the here and now. Most of us want a better future. Christmas is more than a single day of celebration; it is meant to bring a month of contemplation. Advent, one of the richest seasons of the year, is the time we remember when God, in all his Divine wonder and power appeared in human history and became a part of our earthly experience.

Do not think of Christ as a helpless little baby. The universal spirit of Christ Consciousness has been with us from the beginning of time. He came with bold, clear vision, not with vague religious nostalgia. Jesus lived and symbolised Divine Consciousness. The baby Jesus represents all humanity. He's not born to a single nation. He doesn't come only to the perfect or the pure. His birth signals good news for everyone without exception, starting with Adam and the beginning of time itself.

It's about discovering that what we have - that what we are - is enough. It's about light in the darkness, and taking action to make the sacred places we dwell and our sacred lives holy again. Advent is the leap of faith that allows our doubt, naked vulnerability and inner spiritual resources to trust the God who has journeyed with us from our very inception. Advent is about letting our light shine, letting our hope shine, without shame or embarrassment or fear. The calming peace of Christmas lies in the immanence of Divine Love.

I take off my shoes, for not only am I on Holy ground, I am Holy ground. Each of us is on Holy ground. Blessed in the mystery of the birth of Christ, calling us into sacred relationship and Light; it has come. It is here. It is close by. Anticipation is a great word. Patience is an attribute few of us can claim. Waiting is an art which our impatient age has forgotten. The story of Christmas is the tale of a world waiting It's about longing, desire, awaiting that which is yet to come; that which isn't here.

And so we wait, expectantly.

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With an ache. Because all is not right. Something is missing. Advent confronts this angst of the heart with the insistence that God has not abandoned the world, hope is real and is coming. Sometimes we wait patiently and calmly. But more often, our wait is restless and anxious.