In February 2020 it will be ten years since I started this blog on WordPress, in order to have a place to write about practising the presence of God in my life and encouraging others to take their own adventure of exploration with the Divine.
I chose then to look at five topics and hold these topics at the forefront of my spiritual learning for a decade. I admit, the last three years, I’ve gone off that track slightly, and yet … I find myself looking at them over and over again still!
The topics that I had chosen were:
The fear of the Lord (which is the beginning of wisdom, according to Proverbs). Who is God? What does it mean (in this day & age) to fear him? What is “fear”?
An intimate relationship with God: which is really 2 topics – Prayer and speaking to God; and being filled with the Holy Spirit.
The tongue – blessings and curses, the control of the tongue, the power of the tongue for good and for bad. What we build up and what we tear down.
Women – how do I reconcile the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31 with what Paul says about women in 1 Timothy 1: 11-12. Throughout most of what is written by Paul, he makes mention over and over to the fact that women “caused” the fall of man and were lead astray, and lead man astray. But, how do I reconcile this model to follow in Proverbs with other parts of the Bible.Spiritual growth for a decade
I am still asking myself today some of the questions that I asked myself ten years ago.
Some things have changed
At the same time, I also look at my spiritual journey and see where I have changed and where I am no longer trying to fit a square peg into a round hole! For example, ten years ago I said
Now… I don’t want you to believe that I’m into paganism of ANY sort, but to me it’s VERY clear that God is not only the God of my heart, my spirit & my soul, but God is the God of the world (in every sense of it). Of the rivers (dividing the River Jordan); the seas (drying the Red Sea); and the forests (He uses them as weapons at His will).The forest
Today – I would have written that differently!
I don’t care what you think or believe about what I believe. I’ve gotten over trying to explain myself to others or tone my writing down so that I don’t get any Christian backlash. It’s not that I don’t care about other people, but caring for people is not the same as caring about their opinion of me. I’ve learned the hard way that their opinion of me is none of my business!
So, rather than putting all kinds of disclaimers in what I write, so as to not offend anyone, I am looking more and more at being authentic in what I say. I would have openly stated that I can honour pantheism in its understanding of the presence of the Divine everywhere and in everything.
I am searching for Truth and for the presence of the Divine in my life – and sometimes that just gets messy!
I read all over the place – from all kinds of ancient wisdom, not just Christianity. Because I think that on some level, everyone is searching for the Divine connection.
As I said a few months ago:
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that God is standing outside of the window. The Bible is simply the finger that points TO God, standing outside the window.The best self-help book I’ve ever read?
We, unfortunately, have gotten hooked on looking exclusively at “the finger”, rather than to where the finger points us!
At the end of the day, our relationship is not with the Bible – the relationship is with God. … God speaks THROUGH the Bible – the Bible is not God.
So, the same way that I consider that the Bible points us to God, I read other people’s experiences in finding God as well.
Which takes me back to where I started – ten years of studying five subjects, to master them.
The fear of the Lord
Allow me to start by saying, I’ve stopped using “the Lord” in my terminology when speaking about God and the Divine. I prefer I AM or the Divine.
These things happen when you start to look into translations and original meetings, and discover that “the Lord” was a translation of a translation and there wasn’t actually meant to be an original meaning of “lord” but it served a purpose. So, for example, you could travel down this rabbit hole and read things like:
- WRIGHT WAY: A new King James Bible?
- “LORD” or “Jehovah/YHWH” in Genesis 2:4 et al.?
- Why doesn’t the King James Bible always translate “YAHWEH” as Jehovah?
- How the King James Bible Came to Be
- For example – why does the NIV version continue to use Lord, rather than correcting to YHWH or Jehovah? Why do some Bible translations not use the name Jehovah for God?
I must say… ignorance was bliss.
It was so much less confusing.
Even ten years ago, like today, I am intrigued by the question of how Abraham and others discovered I AM – where did they experience the Oneness and presence of the Divine in their lives? Even today, that question still has me reading new stuff like:
- The Genesis Narrative In The Light Of Recent Scholarship
- Assyrian Ideology and Israelite Monotheism
- El – SEMITIC DEITY
- how Yahweh met Elohim and created the world
- Archaeological Evidence About the Biblical Story of Abraham
- Anxiety, Monotheism and the story of Abraham
I’m not even close to mastering the topic for myself of “the fear of the Lord”, as it seems the deeper that I go, the more questions that I have. The only certainty I have is that the Infinite is infinite… and Never fully understanding is okay with me. It doesn’t stop the search or the desire to know, but I am perfectly comfortable now with having questions and doubts, rather than certainty of any kind.
Prayer & meditation
Ten years ago, I wanted to set up a prayer centre, as a physical place and space. I attempted it a number of times, but never really putting myself out there. Because my view on defining God has changed over these ten years, so has my definition of prayer.
I am much more interested now in sitting in the Silence to hear that small, still voice, than I am to tell God about my problems and needs!
The meaning of
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto youMatthew 6:33
becomes more clear each day. My role in prayer is not to sit and beg a God sitting high in the heavens for some desires, but rather than trust and have faith that it has already been done!
The more that I believe that God is being God WITHIN me, the more I recognise that my role is to listen and do. And in that doing, whatever it may be, is the answer that I seek.
Sometimes, the doing is as irrational as Naaman bathing in the Jordan River, and other times it makes perfect, logical sense.
One of the challenges has been creating that space. And at the end of 2018, it magically showed up for me. I had been looking at the Power of Eight, and how the power of small groups holding together an intention could work, and was inspired by a friend’s post on Facebook to suggest we create our own Facebook group to get together. This began with the simple intention of creating a group that would meet once a week, and hopefully have six to eight members.
This Facebook group now has over 100 members and meets regularly each morning Monday to Friday – “Practising the Power of Eight“. At the moment, we have a short 10-minute meditation for abundance of health, wealth and well-being. Then we have a longer get together for holding specific intentions for those who show up.
But what I have learnt over the last 11 months of running this is that showing up daily to sit in Silence or lead meditation where you hold an intention of healing for another, is so powerful. We were meant to be co-creators, not idle bystanders. we have a role to play, that we fail to step up into, preferring to declare ourselves helpless.
I tell you this: if you had even a faint spark of faith, even faith as tiny as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and because of your faith, the mountain would move. If you had just a sliver of faith, you would find nothing impossible.Matthew 17:20
Being full of the Holy Spirit
Two verses are always on my mind when I think of this topic:
19 Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?1 Corinthians 6:19 (CSB)
16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you?1 Corinthians 3:16 (CSB)
And yet we continue to pray to God as if God were somehow so far away. Instead of believing and looking within. Instead of finding God hidden in plain sight.
But, what I have learned over these ten years is the role that humility plays in taking responsibility for this power and this relationship.
The hardest part is getting ego and fears (years and years of fear) out of the way. To start believing that God chooses to be part of me, within me and that there is no need to go looking any further for God.
God’s not sitting up in a temple in the sky, far from reach and view. God is everywhere – and possibly most important – in each and every one of us. But we fail to make space. We fail to open up. We prefer to remain asleep, helpless and hopeless – because there is so much less responsibility when God – out there – is all powerful and I can do nothing.
We are each called to more.
My tongue, your tongue – the power of the tongue
Most of us know “in the beginning was the Word”… and we also know that when God made men and women, we were “created in the image of God”. As I already mentioned regarding prayer:
I tell you this: if you had even a faint spark of faith, even faith as tiny as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and because of your faith, the mountain would move. If you had just a sliver of faith, you would find nothing impossible.Matthew 17.20
And yet we fail to recognise that what we are saying each and every day is creating the reality we live in. We cry out, I don’t have enough – and fail to see how this is manifesting physically in our world. Because it is the faith that we have! Somehow, we reject that God has taken care of all of our needs, and we insist on saying “it’s not enough”.
Rather than claiming, with actual faith (not begging and hoping that perhaps it might happen) – “My God shall supply all of my needs”… we ask God to save us.
Consider how many verses in Proverbs alone speak of the power of the tongue:
- Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
- A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
- There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
- When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
- A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
- The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
- Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
- Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
- Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
- With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.
- The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
- Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.
- A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.
- The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
- With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
- There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
- A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
- A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
- The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
- If you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth,
- Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
- and this list is not complete… but I think you get the picture!
Whether you like to watch your words or not, understand that at every moment of every day you are speaking things into existence!
How many people do you see now doing positive affirmations? Working hard at changing their subconscious mindset and the words that they speak to themselves. Because the power of the tongue to create your reality is happening all around you.
The role of women
I’m still searching for answers on this – because the history of the church (especially decisions made of what doctrines to follow and what to leave out), leave me with more questions than answers.
And the same way that the more you know, the more complicated things get — this is another one of those topics.
This thought might rattle you:
“How can women be in the image of God if God cannot be imaged in female form?”― Marcus J. Borg
But, we know that Shekinah – the Glory of the Presence of God – is female form. We know Divine Wisdom is feminine “she”.
So, what is the role that women are to play and how does this play out in my life, each and every day? Because, I admit, my quest and journey is a personal one. It’s about learning things that transform my life and how I relate to God and others.
Along the way, I share what I am learning and reading, but at the end of the day, the most important transformation that happens is the one within me, where I am transformed by the renewing of my mind.
And hopefully, along this journey, I will be a blessing to others as well!