Category Archives: #God

What do you live for?

I like to start my English classes with a warm-up exercise that will get my students thinking and speaking in English. Once they are warmed up, I transition into the lesson(s) of the day. Most of the time I warm up the language center in their mind with simple exercises such as, “Give me the name of a country that begins with the letter S … that begins with the letter L” … etc. Or, I might ask each student to spell a different word. Or, we might practice verb tenses that we have learned, for example we might practice the past tenses by telling everyone what we did yesterday.

But one day I decided to get philosophical on my students with the question,“What do you live for?” Several people said similar things such as “family,” “travel,” “God,“ “music,” and even “to learn English.” (I have some devoted students, eh?). As for myself, I had not thought about what I might say until the last person had spoken and everyone was staring at me waiting for my response. I thought for a moment, and then told them that I live for learning about human potential and for discovering how to live life to the fullest.

I’ve heard it said that we use only a small percentage of our potential … I am not sure how you measure that, but it sure seems to me that extraordinary things can manifest through each of us.

I love the entire genre that is variously known as self-development, personal growth, self-help, etc. Here in the Spanish- speaking world this genre is called auto-desarollo, auto-ayuda, etc. I cannot get enough of it, and since I don’t read books that often, I am usually taking this content in by listening to audiobooks, podcasts, and other audio resources on the iPods that I have with me. I even consider my Spanish educational resources to be part of this genre since they are helping me to develop personally, and helping me to live life more fully by enabling me to experience more profoundly the Spanish-speaking world. I don’t believe everything that I hear and read, because this genre is like any other genre in that some of the authors may not have the highest motives or could simply be mistaken, such as a financial advisor and author with a fancy title who is selling a lot of books with questionable if not dangerous financial advice. Each of us has to pick and choose what resonates with us.

I am listening to an audiobook right now that is one of the most extraordinary audiobooks that I have ever heard, it is by Anita Moorjani and is entitled, “Dying to Be Me.” Anita had what is known as a Near Death Experience (NDE), and in her book she shares how it has impacted her perspective and life. If you believe that NDEs are a bunch of bunk and that the thousands of people who claim to have had an NDE are all liars, you obviously would not be interested in this book. As for myself, I open to learning what I can from Anita’s story for a few reasons, one of them being that I too have had spiritual experiences that defy explanation but that have similar elements to what Anita and others have experienced. I’ve already told some people about one such experience, but this is the first time that I will write a little about it. By the way, any number of people throughout human history have experienced the miraculous, the infinite, the eternal, something that is beyond our ability to explain with human language, so while I will share a little about my experience, I will also admit that I cannot explain it like I experienced it.

One day many years ago I was with a friend and saw a vision in front of me. Since it was over 30 years ago, I will do my best to recall and explain what I saw. I was looking into a pathway of light, pure light, bright white light, as if I was looking into a pathway that led to heaven itself. As I gazed into the light I was explaining to my friend what I was seeing, and I was describing both the pathway and the destination. Since it was so surprising and shocking and exciting, unlike anything that I had ever experienced up to that time and even to this present moment, I just kept saying excitedly the same things over and over, such as:

I’m seeing a vision! I’m looking down a path of white light, pure white light … it is love and beauty and truth. I’m telling you! It is a pathway that is white and light and loving and beautiful and true. It leads right to the light!

I don’t recall how long this vision lasted nor how it ended … and who knows, it could have lasted a few minutes or a few hours – they say that at the speed of light, time stands still. In any case, while I was excitedly describing to my friend the vision I was seeing, all he could say to me was, “I don’t understand what you are saying, Keith – you are speaking in a tongue!”

To me a “tongue” is a heavenly language, something that does not apply to any particular religion or spiritual practice. Also, it seems to me that many devotees of various stripes have misused, misunderstood and overused that word “tongue,” so I mention it with some trepidation. For example, one time someone wanted to show me how to pray in a tongue, and they immediately knelt down and on command starting verbalizing a bunch of sounds … perhaps they were in fact practicing a heavenly language because who am I to judge, but my gut tells me that this is not something you can do on command but instead it is something that is given by God at a specific time for a specific purpose. As far as I know, I have not spoken in a heavenly language at any other time in my life.

So after I came out of the vision, I explained to my friend in human language what I had been seeing, similar to how I am explaining it to you now in this blog post. Words will never completely capture it, just like the word “water” can never fully capture the essence that is water, but nonetheless I have done my best to describe my experience. I don’t know why it happened to me at that point in my life, but what I do know is that it gives me a sense of hope and comfort and peace and joy. Moreover, it is similar to the many stories told by those who have had NDEs and by those who have had profound spiritual experiences.

As I understand it, God is Light and Love and Truth and Beauty. It follows that the names we use to refer to God are only glimpses of God, regardless of where those names originated. Names like Infinite Self and Source of All do their best to evoke awe, but again are only glimpses. The Spanish word that is most commonly used for God is Dios, which comes from the Latin word Deus, which they think came from the word Deiwos in a language that linguists call the Proto-Indo-European language, which is probably related to the Sanskrit Deva or Devi, which could have been a sound that someone uttered way back when at the moment they experienced what they believed was … God. Obviously, the word or words that we use to describe the One are inadequate, but we all know Who we are talking about. These words all point to the same Light and Love.

So, what do you live for? I could have said that I live for God, which may have sounded holy and impressive, or it could have sounded self-righteous and repulsive. But to me, to say that we live for God is obvious and does not necessarily need to be said. We all live and move and have our being in God … God is the Source from whom we came, the Source that enlivens us now, and the Source to whom we return.

What I’m asking is … What is it that makes you feel most alive? What is it that is uniquely you? What is your divine purpose for being? Or, in the words of Anita who has attempted to express what she saw on the other side — How do you express your magnificence?

We are all beloved in the eyes of You-Know-Who … so go ahead and be that which God has empowered you to be!

What is Devotion?

Your religious body does not determine the degree to which you are devoted to God … not your history, not your traditions, not your ceremonies, and not your religious writings.

Your personal religious practices also do not determine the degree to which you are devoted to God. You can be at every meeting, know the words to every song, have all the ceremonies memorized, pray at all the correct times, dress the way you are supposed to dress, and do everything that is expected of you apart from the body … and in spite of all that, your heart can be far from God.

Similarly, your position in your religious body does not determine the degree to which you are devoted to God. Whether you’re the curate, or the rabbi, or the apostle, or the pope, or the shaman, or the minister, or the elder, or the mullah, or the vicar, or the prophet, or the teacher, your position does not define the condition of your soul.

And of course, your reputation does not determine the degree to which you are devoted to God. People may bow down and worship you, or on the other hand you may be hated and ridiculed by all around you. What people may think of you has nothing to do with how your innermost being is tuned.

The Fight Over God

I often wonder what God thinks about the fight over Him we got going on in the world.

There is a long line of religions stretching back centuries, and no doubt continuing into the future, that think they have the truth, that think they have some special revelation from God, that think they have some special relationship with God.

And when you think that way, you are bound to be fighting with others who think differently … I don’t care how much ecumenical dialogue you participate in.

This will never change … there will never be one, universal religion, with a universally accepted doctrine.

We’ll just keep fighting over God.

He’s ours! No, he’s ours! You people are antichrists, he’s ours!
God’s not a he, God’s a she! There are many gods! We are all God!

Sometimes the fight is as simple as an argument, and other times the fight means decapitating someone who thinks differently. All in the name of devotion, and all for the sake of defending relationship with God.

For some strange reason I have never felt comfortable believing that my religion is the one, true, religion. It’s strange because it seems so unlike most people who are religious … the norm is to remain comfortable in your religion, to hold fast to your dogma. Oh, I realize that there is a lot of religious movement these days, but the norm remains to stick with what is comfortable and known to you.

But I have always been a strange bird in this regard. I used to play Little League baseball for our church team against other church teams of different denominations. As a small boy, I remember very clearly after a game asking a family member about the religion of the other team. The response was something like this, “Oh, you don’t want to know about them, they are not a member of our one, true, religion.” I don’t remember how old I was, maybe 9 or 10, but I distinctly remember thinking, “That does not sound right.”

I spent many years searching for the one, true, religion … only to discover that it does not exist.

Nonetheless, I do want to be a vessel through whom God works to bless others. Perhaps, the most effective agents of God are the ones serving devoid of all dogma.

The Kingdom Within Us

God is sovereign,
Over the whole earth and the heavens above,
And we yield to His will in the Kingdom within us.

God is just,
He is always fair and can always be trusted,
We stake our lives on the justice of God in the Kingdom within us.

God is everywhere,
There is nowhere to hide from His presence,
We want God to rule in the Kingdom within us.

God is wise,
The fullness of the riches of all wisdom,
Is available to us in the Kingdom within us.

God is generous,
He seeks to give, to share, to bless, to sacrifice for us,
We believe that God always wants what is best for us in the Kingdom within us.

God is all-knowing,
He knows everything that can be known,
We know … that we know … that God knows us in the Kingdom within us.

God is true,
He is the Spirit of grace and truth,
And He holds each of us accountable for what is true in the Kingdom within us.

God is merciful,
When we are feeling low and unlovable,
God is seeking to forgive us in the Kingdom within us.

God is powerful,
There is no end to His power and might,
Beyond anything we thought possible in the Kingdom within us.

God is love,
The love of God is for us, in us, and through us,
The Kingdom of God is in our hearts, in the Kingdom within us.

Hard Work and Goals

If you want to succeed, you have to roll up your sleeves.

If you want to see your dreams become reality, you have to put your hand to the plow.

God worked 6 days to create the world, and He did not rest until the 7th day. For in Genesis 2:1-3 it is written:

“Thus the heavens and the hearth were completed, and all their hosts. And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

There really are no shortcuts to success. And you must believe that our awesome God can do awesome things through you … if you are willing to put forth the effort.

In addition to hard work, you must have a clear vision of where you want to go. Sit down and write down your goals. Describe them in detail, and then follow a plan for realizing them.

Here are 4 words to remember during this process of defining your vision:
(1) Goal, (2) Action, (3) Review, and (4) Adjust.

Goal – First define your goal in detail, write down what it looks like, what it feels like, what it smells like, etc. Be very specific about what you want to accomplish. Again, write it down – there is something very powerful about documenting your vision.

Action – Then take action and move toward your goal, even if you must start taking small steps. For example, if one of your goals is to get a college degree, it might seem like a daunting task if you have not yet started college. Thus, a small step which would start moving you toward your goal would be to simply start calling local colleges to inquire about admission, cost of courses, etc. Just start calling. Take action, take a step toward your goal no matter how small that step might seem.

Review – After you have started moving toward your goal, step back and determine if you are still on target. Are the actions you have been taking still moving you in the direction of your goal? Get very clear about the status of your progress toward your goal.

Adjust – If you decide that you have veered off course, simply make the necessary adjustments to get back on course. You know what your goal is, you have stated it very specifically on paper, and so if you notice that you are beginning to miss your target then you will be able to adjust and get back on target.

And the cycle keeps repeating itself. Get clear on your goal, take more action toward your goal, step back now and then to review your progress, and adjust if necessary to stay on target. Then keep dreaming … take more action, and keep moving forward … and keep reviewing … and keep adjusting … and take more action …

But again, reaching goals means putting forth the effort, it means striving to bring your dreams into reality … through God’s strength and blessing.

Say to yourself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Also say, “If God is for me, who can be against me?”

By God’s strength and grace, you can do it!