Renewable Spiritual Energy

I’m thinking of faith, hope, love, prayer, and worship, not solar power, wind turbines, or thermal heat. I want to draw your attention to some sources of renewable spiritual energy that can help you to make it through the day. Everyone recognizes the need for various sources of energy to power all of the machines and labor saving devices that we use everyday in our homes, the energy required to make and to keep those homes comfortable during the changing seasons of the year, and the energy required to power our cars to move us from place to place. But many people fail to take seriously their need for sources of personal mental energy each day or to see where some good sources of such energy can be found.

How to know if you’re lacking Renewable Spiritual Energy

If you wake up in the morning still exhausted, you are experiencing this need for some personal renewal energy. If your kids drive you to the brink of patience after a short time of dealing with their selfish demands or rebellious moods, then you can recognize this need. If the attitudes and behavior of some of your associates at work really get to you every day and make your work environment an unpleasant place in which to be, then you should admit to having this need. If the pills and vitamins and enjoyable breaks that you squeeze into your daily routines don’t give you the lasting energy that you need before it is time to get some sleep, then you need some new sources for a special type of energy.

Most of us human beings have heard stories about how a person’s will to live pulled them through the rigors of intense physical pain and discomfort from a severe physical injury.  Or how Helen Keller was able to overcome her severe handicaps of being born blind, deaf, and dumb by her personal persistent efforts to do so with the help of her teacher. Or how a well trained athlete was able to find the extra shot of energy that was able to push him or her through the physical pain of exhausted muscles to cross the finish line in first place. These accomplishments are due to one’s personal mental energy.

Where to find Renewable Spiritual Energy?

And whether we are willing to admit it or not, the good sources for this energy are to be found in the spiritual disciplines of faith, hope, love, prayer, and worship. You see the daily life of faith can give you a lot of relief from the debilitating effects of worry. A daily dose of hope can give you a mental boast to get you through a rough period of time. An available supply of God’s love and that of your family and friends can give you a source of energy that will enable you to ignore or to forgive the unloving or unkind attitude or behavior of an associate at work.  And prayer for your kids when their behavior is about ready to drive you to the edge of your patience can give you an extra shot of faith and hope that they are eventually going to be OK if you don’t give up in the hard work of raising them. And brief daily or extended times of weekly worship and spiritual devotion can give you a source of energy from knowing that you are not alone in your daily struggles.

Faith, hope, love, prayer, and worship are really very practical sources of personal energy, and they are renewable every day and available to you every moment.  Some of the posts on this blog or statements on my website directly address these resources. Let’s talk about these sources of renewable spiritual energy.

Good ideas

Think for a moment about what are ideas, and then ponder about what makes them become good ideas. I did that this morning about 4:30, and the process got me out of bed to write this post. An idea is just part of the ways our brains function to give us some directions in how we act and think moment by moment through the course of our daily lives.

The process of good ideas?

The process goes something like this: we EXPERIENCE something, then we attach a MOOD to that experience/OK/bad/good, then we REFLECT on that experience and mood to expand and to refine it, and it becomes a THOUGHT, and then we connect it with other somewhat similar THOUGHTS, and that creates an IDEA, and then we further refine the IDEA with more reflective THINKING until it becomes a PLAN, and then we implement the PLAN through a personal course of ACTION. This process may only take a few moments, if we are quick to act without thinking too much, or it may take years, or it may take an hour or so as it did with me this morning as I went through the process of getting up, having some breakfast, turning on my computer, and beginning to write this post.

And this process of moving from EXPERIENCE  + MOOD + REFLECTION +THOUGHT+PLAN to ACTION is a very personal process. No one can really exercise control over you in the process or stop you from engaging in it. They may try to help you to refine your THINKING by TEACHING you some LESSONS, and they may even exercise some controls over your behavior, particularly if they are your parents or the enforcers of the law,  or they may ENCOURAGE  you to ACT on the idea if they believe that it is ultimately good, but even these influences are not absolute in their effects.  So we each go on with our lives, some writing posts on a computer, others going to work everyday, others looking for work every day, some making political speeches, others trying to make some sense out of these speeches and their experiences so that they can decide how to vote or to PLAN what to do NEXT.  And many of us are trying to use this process to improve our personal relationships with others and to have more GOOD experiences in our daily lives.

The specific IDEA behind this blog is that it can really be beneficial to give some serious THOUGHT to WHAT IS GOOD in our lives and to share these THOUGHTS with others in order to clarify and to reinforce what is REALLY GOOD in our lives. And this is what I’m trying to do as a write these posts and invite you to share with me and with others your comments regarding some very common experiences and concerns that we all encounter every day in our lives.

What good ideas have you had lately? What made them good? What did you do about them? What was the outcome of your action? Let’s talk about this.

Good place to worship

What’s a good place to worship? The worship of a person’s god is an important personal function for all human beings. Its practice in a large variety of forms and content is well documented throughout human history. And in most times and places the practice of worship and the religious rituals that are associated with it tend to be associated with the culture of the practitioner. The culture may be local, tribal, national, racial, or in other ways a distinct style and manner of living together.

And throughout history there has been ongoing conflicts, discussions, and legislative action taken regarding the individual’s personal rights to worship free from any civic imposing forces or restricting controls. In some places and at some times individuals have had almost no freedom to make their own personal and private decisions regarding how they choose to worship, because the matter was directly control by the forces of the government.

And in other places and at other times individuals have been given a maximum amount of freedom to worship where and how they chose even though such activities might be different from that of others in the civic group. But no king or ruler or legislative body has been completely and permanently able to control how the citizens of its realm worship. This was true for the wise king Solomon of ancient Israel whose rule is described in the Bible, the various monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire whose rules are recorded in history, and the various national rulers of ancient and current collections of people throughout the world. The individual practice of worship has never been effectively and permanently controlled by any political power, pagan or religious.

In spite of the legislative provisions that have been put into place by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, the conflict and the discussions regarding where and how individuals can worship  in the communities of this nation continue. And the conflicts and discussions are seen elsewhere throughout the world where individuals try to learn how to freely live and to worship with other individuals who are somewhat “different”.  In some places in the world Christians are severely persecuted and even killed for the way in which they worship and practice their faith. And in some places in this country Christians and other citizens object to some Muslims who want to build a center for worship and other religious and community activities two blocks from “ground zero” in New York City. And the conflicts regarding this matter are particularly intense in Jerusalem where Jews and Muslims are engaged in daily violent struggles and discussions regarding who can worship on mount Moriah, and these struggles and discussions will eventually involve the whole world.

Religious freedom and the right of individuals to worship where and how they choose is a wise and necessary strategy for all people in this world. It appears to be a right that God established with creation, because he never forced any human being to worship him even though he had the authority and the power to do so. And it is good to recognize that governmental units should have the responsibility and the authority to control the erection of buildings on public and private land within their areas of jurisdiction, doing this through the issuing of building permits. So individuals and governmental units are faced with the challenge of trying to decide where and how citizens  should freely worship their gods in our world of such diverse religious beliefs and secular cultures.

Within a position of toleration for religious differences, where should individuals be free to worship? How should free individuals practice the rituals of their beliefs? And how should the authority of the State and the rights of individuals be coordinated in this matter? These are very challenging and current matters for our consideration today. What’s a good place to worship? Let’s talk about this.

Deal with one’s enemies

How to deal with one’s enemies? There is a lot of controversy these days regarding how we as a nation of freedom loving and tolerating people should deal with nations and people who apparently want to harm us in some ways. We have labeled such nations as “evil” and such individuals as “terrorists” and generally as our “enemies”. But such nationals and individuals may also see us in the same ways, and individuals may apply such labels to other individuals in their communities, neighborhoods, and even in their families. Major wars have been fought with thousands of lives being sacrificed or otherwise damaged and trillions of dollars have been spent in accord with the decisions that are made regarding this challenging matter. And we are currently engaged in several very expensive and difficult wars in our efforts to deal with our nation’s “enemies”.

How to Deal with one’s enemies in different ways?

Providing safety in one’s homeland, community, neighborhood, business, school, place of worship, or family is a legitimate objective for people in responsible positions of care, but they each have to face some of the basic questions regarding how to deal with one’s enemies. And I would suggest that violent opposition is usually not the best immediate or even the most beneficial long-range course of action in dealing with enemies. That is why most of our political leaders engage in various efforts of negotiation to avoid violence if safe relationships can be established without it. Talking with one’s “enemies” is always better than killing each other.

This matter has been a challenging issue throughout history,  and a couple of notable persons who had some very intense personal and group experiences in dealing with their “enemies” have given us some wise instructions regarding how to deal with one’s enemies. Jesus, who lived and ministered in the land of Palestine that was under the occupied control of the foreign power of the Roman Empire and who faced many personal enemies over 2000 years ago, had this to say about the matter: “you have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matthew 5:38-41 NIV)

And he went on in his public remarks to a crowd of his fellow countrymen with these words: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,….” (Matthew 5:43-44 NIV) And a couple of years later he was executed on a cross under the authority of Rome following a public riotous appeal for his death by his personal enemies.

Paul, a contemporary  Jewish convert of Jesus and a leader among his followers who was also a Roman citizen, had this to say about such “governing authorities”: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:1-4 NIV). In his ministry throughout the Roman Empire, Paul frequently was subjected to Roman authorities. He was arrested several times by them, put into prisons, and even flogged under the orders of the city magistrates in Phillippi (Acts 16:16-40) But Paul had a great deal of respect for Roman law and authority, even though years later the Roman emperor ordered him to be beheaded in the Roman coliseum during a time of great Christian persecution.

So how should one deal with one’s “enemies”? Don’t resist or otherwise confront them. Love them and pray for them. If they are in positions of authority over you, submit to their authority, and seek to do what is “right” in the situation even if their attitudes and treatment of you is “wrong” and unjust. There is a big difference between the Christian martyr who submits to the violence of someone who opposes him or her and the Muslim martyr who blows himself or herself up in an effort to kill others in an act of violence against those whom he or she opposes and anyone else in the vicinity of the explosion irregardless of their involvement in the conflict.

There is not an easy solution to the challenge of dealing with one’s enemies, but it could be very good to consider various options. Let’s talk about this.

Banning gay marriages

Banning gay marriages: same-sex marriages of homosexual men and lesbian women should not be done because such relationships are considered to be “sinful” by some citizens. Adultery is considered to be “sinful” by some citizens, but I don’t believe that it is against any laws. It may break up a marriage, destroy a family, or end a career, but I don’t believe that anyone is strictly breaking any law by committing adultery. Marriage vows would normally be broken by such an act, and the abused spouse could sue for divorce, but the guilty spouse would not be arrested just for having sex with another consenting adult. On the other hand, it is against the law for an adult to have sexual relations with a minor, even if the minor individual consents to it.

Banning gay marriages

Laws of society are basically enacted by legislative bodies to protect its citizens from harm and abuse. And many of these laws are specifically written to protect children and women from abuse. It may be commonly recognized that when a man has sexual relations with a woman, it establishes a dependent relationship between that man and the woman and their child. And society has a stake in that relationship, because the woman and particularly the child may become dependents of the State,  if the man doesn’t provide for their care. Many welfare laws are written and enforced to protect women and children from abuse by men, even in relationships that are consummated in accord with “common law” and that don’t necessarily produce children.

Therefore, since the relations of consenting men with men and consenting women with women, even if such relations are sexual in nature, doesn’t involve any particular risk of abuse for any of the adults and no children can be produced from such relationships, adults who choose to enter such relationships should not be given the protecting legal rights that are particularly written for men and women who choose to get married. Homosexual and lesbian relationships can be easily broken without any legal consequences or responsibilities to be imposed on anyone, but that is not the case in any marriage relationship. That is due to the rights of the dependents in such marriage relationships.

I haven’t seen these principles of social law being applied to the growing problems and controversial concerns that our society and our citizens are facing in regard to the proposal that the rights of marriage should now be extended to include relationships between adult men with adult men and adult women with adult women. Let’s move away from the moral issue of “sin” in this matter, and take a very careful look at the real factor of social legal protections that are the basis for our traditional laws of marriage. Since marriage laws are basically written to protect dependent children and women from abuse, and since there are no risks of such dependent needs for children and women in homosexual and lesbian relationships, therefore the rights and legal protections of marriage should not be granted to gay adult men and women in their relationships with other gay adults. Marriages between gay men and lesbian women should be banned because of this reason. What do you think about this argument? Should we be banning gay marriages? Let’s talk about this!

Good relations

Everyone wants to have good relations, especially with family members and a few friends. Isn’t that right? But they apparently are not automatically established. Individuals are different, even those in the same family. They do not always see things in the same way. They may often respond to circumstances and encounters differently. And individuals are subject to changes in their moods, interests, and needs as they grow older. So establishing good relations is an ongoing challenging process, but it is an important part of being a human and living with other humans.

What are the qualities that are present in good relations?

What do you think that it takes to establish good relations with other individuals? What personal  attitudes and behavior are necessary within and from individuals if they are going to be able to establish and to maintain good relations with others?

I would suggest that a person who wants to have good relations with others must first be a person who has the virtue of  character. Then he or she must be able and willing to share the gifts of forgiveness and encouragement to others for their offensive actions and attitudes and their efforts to make good changes in their lives and relationships. For further insight into these qualities see these statements on my website: “character”, “forgiveness”, and “encouragement”. Let’s talk about this.

Spam

Spam as a precooked meat product from Hormel Foods, Inc. is tasty, convenient, and not too expensive. It is easy to store. In slices it fits well between two pieces of bread, and it is easy to put on a plate. I can remember eating it years ago in lunches that I carried to school.

But Spam that is received as “unsolicited” “electronic” “messages” that are “indiscriminately” distributed by “electronic messaging systems”, particularly in bulk numbers, is not recognized as being good. In fact Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, indicates that “spamming is universally reviled.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(electronic))

Spam, the dilemma

A can of Spam may be good on the shelf of your pantry or your refrigerator from time to time, but no one wants cartons of it dumped at their door every morning! No one seems to want their email boxes  on their computers or their comment messages on their blogs or their cell phones filled up with such “unsolicited” messages. But it takes some special tools and some persistent work to block the appearance of such messages, Spam, in one’s communication devices. Most of us have probably accepted all of the advertising that is displayed on the television stations that we watch. Except for public broadcasting stations and religious broadcasts, such displays take up too many minutes of television programs; and then the PB stations have their call-in fund-raising drives and the TV preachers solicit contributions. So it is impossible to avoid Spam and a lot of “unsolicited” advertising today!

But many of us would still like to know what there is “out there” that is “good” that we can buy to eat or otherwise consume, or to use, or to view, or to hear, or to read, or to visit, or to enjoy, or to think about, or to experience, or to touch, or to say, or to want, or to receive. Most of us have our “want list”, so we do a lot of searching on the Internet, through the magazines and catalogues, in the printed fliers that fill our local mail boxes every week for what might be “good” that we could get to satisfy our “wants”.  A few relevant ads for some products may help in our searches, but most of us don’t want any Spam!

The particular purpose of this blog is to get individuals engaged in thinking about and talking about what is really “good” in their lives. As we do this, I think that it will make us wiser buyers, more satisfied customers, happier family members, better citizens, and more faithful stewards of God’s resources. I invite you to talk with me about “what is good” in your lives. What is a “good” tool to block spam? What is a “good” ad in your search for resources to meet your wants and needs? Let’s talk about Spam and these other matters that seem to dominate so much of our attention and drive so many of our desires.