Life and death are in the power of the tongue, speak life, every cell in your body

Life and death are in the power of the tongue

I’ve been somewhat unsettled in recent weeks hearing masses around the world chanting “I can’t breathe”. I believe in the power of the tongue in creating wellness and illness in our bodies.

I pin my hopes on George receiving justice: what was done to him was an abomination. I firmly believe that the systems that stand in place to perpetuate injustice and prejudice should be exposed and torn away—all the wrongs of those who are silenced and told that their opinions don’t matter.

I wasn’t going to write this post. This has been sitting in my drafts for two weeks. Not my place to comment. I didn’t want to be one to criticise.

But does holding back my voice not make me part of the problem, rather than contributing to a solution? So, let me say this clearly:

I am horrified by the continued use of the slogan”I can’t breathe“.

On the one hand, it’s great for the media. On the other hand, do those chanting it consider the double-edged sword it can be for their health?

Words spoken by masses with strong emotions: powerful stuff.

Calling into existence that which is spoken.

The question is: what does it create?

What spells are we casting?

We laugh at “abracadabra” – but many believe that the word actually has meaning and power.

Scholars who support the Hebrew etymology say that abracadabra is a corruption of the Hebrew, ebrah k’dabri, meaning “I will create as I speak,” ie that the act of speech will magically create new realities. … the words and letters of the Hebrew alphabet have the power to create.

Abracadabra, https://www.thejc.com/judaism/jewish-words/abracadabra-1.466709

life and death, Every cell in your body is eavesdropping on your thoughts & words, i can't breathe, #icantbreathe, united we stand, we can do it

Similarly, you may scoff at those that use affirmations and recite promises to themselves or God, claiming a blessing or healing.

But what if words and thoughts and emotions do have power?

This is particularly true of words spoken full of emotion.

What if I can’t breathe has power?

The first reference I can find to this slogan arises in late 2014, shortly after the asphyxiation of Eric Gardner by a police officer. His last words “I can’t breathe”, were raised like a mantra in the protests that followed in New York City.

“There was this quote staring me in the face, and that’s something that should be the quote of the year,” Shapiro recalled.
So the Yale Law Library’s associate director and lecturer revised his 2014 list, placing “I can’t breathe” in the top slot. His widely cited annual list, which is intended to capture the political and cultural mood of the country each year, serves as a supplement to “The Yale Book of Quotations,” originally published in 2006.

‘I can’t breathe.’ Eric Garner’s last words are 2014’s most notable quote, according to a Yale librarian

Unfortunately, when I took a quick look at the 2014-15 flu deaths for that same period, there was a small spike – from the usual 36,000 a year up to 51,000. Mere coincidence? Quite likely. There are probably a million factors that played a part in the increase. Again in 2017, when the book “I can’t breathe” by Matt Kaibbi comes out, and Queen Ifrica publishes her song “I can’t breathe”: we get another spike up to 61,000 flu deaths. Probably irrelevant.

However, at this moment in history, following on the heels of mass sickness caused by a little-studied virus, we have angry crowds chanting “I can’t breathe”. We have media pushing fear and uncertainty. We have politicians using fear for personal safety and security for their platforms and personal gain.

So, if our words do have power and every cell of our body is eavesdropping on our thoughts, emotions and words – recreating what we declare into existence – how important then are the words that we choose to chant in protest?

Justice for George becomes much more powerful than I can’t breathe if we believe that we have a hand in creating an outcome!

every cell in your body is eavesdropping on what you think, say, do and feel

Every cell in your body is eavesdropping.

In the same way that our mind is aware of everything that goes on in our body, our body and cells are listening and experiencing our thoughts, emotions and words. Unfortunately, our body takes those thoughts, emotions and words literally.

Our cells don’t differentiate when we are protesting from when we are having a phone call or merely meditating alone. Your body experiences your thoughts, emotions and words as they are. You can’t tell your body “I was just joking”.

Like a child that doesn’t understand sarcasm, our body responds to what was said and doesn’t take a joke. It takes everything we feel, say and think quite seriously.

In many different teachings, we find the effects of emotions on our organs:

  • anger: affects the liver
  • fear: affects the kidneys
  • grief: weakens the lungs
  • worry: affects the stomach
  • stress: wreaks havoc on your heart and mind

Examine, for a moment, how your words spoken with emotion are affecting different parts of your body.

Consider your inner child and the children around you:

We all have the voice of an inner critic stuck in our heads – and quite often it’s the voice of a parent, teacher or someone we respected or feared as a child. The voice that our child hears now is the voice that will become their inner critic in the future.

Do we want our children to have an inner voice that says “I can’t breathe”?

consider the impact of words on children

What are our children hearing and experiencing in the chants and protests? How are we explaining the situation to them? What conversations do we have that allow understanding, compassion and wisdom to guide the experience?

Consider a child: how do you build them up after you’ve stripped them down with words said in anger? Think for a moment about any relationship where words have been spoken in anger: if you don’t move past the hatred into love, understanding and acceptance, what footing is your relationship on?

The protests in Panama are not about Black Lives Matter: they are about the lock-down and people going hungry. I have it so much easier in what I have to explain! But I still have to explain to my daughter the images, emotions and even violence that she is witnessing if she catches the news.

At the same time, I explain how incredible our bodies and immune systems are! I talk about how we eat, and even how our emotions and thoughts can help us stay healthy and strong. I check myself any time I notice that I am feeling fearful or anxious: careful not to stuff it down but to release it. I don’t need my daughter to latch onto my fear or anxiety!

In the same way, I have to relate and quieten that inner child of my own: that part of me that feels insecure in any way.

Philippians 4:8, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things.
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things.

The power of your thoughts

Your thoughts influence your words and your actions. Long before you choose to do something, you have probably considered it multiple times.

Think, for a moment, about words that you spoke to someone in anger. How many times had you thought that before you actually said it? Then, in a moment of rage and slightly out of control (or perhaps in control but no caring about the consequences) you actually said what you’ve been thinking for a while. You voiced how you truly felt. Maybe it wasn’t the whole picture. But it started with thoughts that you have mulled over.

Consider the effect of thinking “I can’t breathe”, with all the nuances that it carries. Perhaps one of those nuances is that the system is unjust and doesn’t allow you to speak your mind.

If you regularly think “the system is unjust”, are you motivated to change it? Or do you get caught in a feeling of hopelessness? Notice the difference between thinking “I can participate in changing this unjust system” versus thinking “the system is unjust”.

Have you noticed how all your thoughts influence your emotions and your words? If your thoughts control your actions, then they have a role to play in creating your future! The action you take has a direct impact on your results.

The power of our emotions when mixed with words.

Our words are so much more powerful when they are spoken with emotion. It doesn’t matter if you are creating and destroying.

Anger at injustice can provide us with the strength and courage to embark on a journey that we might otherwise never take. Unfortunately, anger can also eat us up on the inside if we bottle it up, rather than channelling and releasing it.

Before becoming a bitter person: this was probably an angry person. Over time, the fire of the anger dies down, but the embers continue to burn within. The dissatisfaction and discontent are still there, unresolved. After the explosion of rage burnt out, bitter ashes and disillusion are left.

When we start a journey to transform our community, we may embark on it out of anger and frustration at the current situation. It is terrific to shout out to the world:

This is wrong! Wrongs must be righted!

"Your anger is the part of you that knows your mistreatment and abuse are unacceptable. Your anger knows you deserve to be treated well, and with kindness. Your anger is a part of you that LOVES you."
“Your anger is the part of you that knows your mistreatment and abuse are unacceptable. Your anger knows you deserve to be treated well, and with kindness. Your anger is a part of you that LOVES you.” https://twitter.com/apocalynds/status/1269711325749563399

But at some moment, love and compassion for our community need to replace that anger against the aggressors as the driving force of change. When we fail to recognise that our passion is driven by love and stay only in the rage, we miss an opportunity to grown in greater love and compassion.

Revolutions begin in angry protest and perhaps even rioting but have to end in love and compassion to build!

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Make sure your thoughts, emotions & words serve your goals.

I love that injustice has awoken people to stand up and make a difference in their worlds. But if I could ask just one thing, it would be this:

Choose your words carefully, especially those spoken with emotion.

I want to hear the masses chanting:

Justice for George!
We can do it!
United we stand.
Black lives matter!

Fighting for justice!
We stand for justice.
We demand justice!

Respect me.
My voice matters!

I’m sure you could make a better list of powerful statements that could create change, without cursing your body or those supporting you.

And when we are done tearing down what no longer serves us, let’s build communities of compassion, love and kindness. Communities that are safe for our children, and that allow us to learn what it means to love our neighbour as ourselves.

Your words can either speak life, or your words can speak death. Our tongues can build others up, or they can tear them down

Life & death are in the power of the tongue.

Prov. 18: 21

pay attention, words, sight, heart, health, guard your heart, bring healing, tongue of the wise, as a man thinks, so is he, a cheerful heart, good medicine,

If I look to Proverbs for Wisdom, these are but a few of the reminders about the power of our thoughts, emotions and words:

Proverbs 12:18
The tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 23:7
As a man thinks, so is he.

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:20-22
My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.

Proverbs 17:22
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

compassion, love, mercy, kindness, empathy, understanding , sensitive, charity, heart, generous, balanced, emotions, alignment, aligned, coherence, coherent, gratitude, coach, life coach, transformation, change, heart-centered

Compassion: loved by the Divine

I’ve spent a lot of time, these last three weeks, in silence – being still with my thoughts. I also spent a lot of time binging on Netflix in between. I was trying to work through a particular pattern in my life that I was sick of repeating!

But, I also had to recognise that I couldn’t spend 8 hours a day just in inner work. I would reach a point where I was tired of thinking and contemplating, and wanted to be mindless and entertained. It felt like too much to try to work it all out.

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resurrection, birth, rebirth, phoenix, death, growth, seed, tree, breakdown, break through

Resurrection

Easter has just passed, and while everyone was focused on Jesus’ resurrection I was busy thinking about my personal “death” and “resurrection”.  I don’t know about you, but it seems that every 6-7 years, life presents us with a “breakdown”: grow through this experience or be doomed to repeat it in 6-7 years time! They say that after every breakdown, comes a break through, and I think that this is very true for all of us, especially spiritually. Without the break down, we would never be forced to break through!

Over the past months, I have been convinced that I need to focus on my spiritual well-being, putting God, as Source and Substance first in my life. I find this to be particularly challenging. Source: as in source of my

  • income and substance,
  • energy and health,
  • emotions and feelings, and
  • source of my thoughts.

If I focus on one aspect of my life, I typically exclude the Divine from other aspects, unconsciously. So, I constantly find myself “going it alone”, and then try to come back to center. When I remember that the Infinite is the source of my abundance and finances, I forget about my health and well-being. When I focus on Divine as source of my emotions, I get caught up in my thoughts.

Death: releasing and renewing

So, over Easter, I was busy contemplating: what do I need to release and let go of? What beliefs and thoughts and feelings no longer serve me? What would I be better of without?

And even more importantly, perhaps, what do I need to forgive and release? What baggage am I carrying around, emotionally and in my thoughts, that needs to “die” in me and be released?

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” — Buddha

The same goes for suffering, hurt and pain that we hold onto because it has become part of who we identify with. Who will I be if I let go of this? We talk about “renewal of our minds” and yet strangely consider it okay to hold on to those beliefs and habits which do not allow us to grow, renew and resurrect.

I started March on the right foot: a morning spent on World Day of Prayer in prayer and forgiveness. And yet, when we arrived at Easter, I was very aware that there was still work to be done in forgiveness and release. I needed to renew my mind even further. I needed to focus on forgiveness of self, and release and let go, so that I could move past mistakes of the past and grow.

Rising from the ashes like a phoenix:

We have developed, as a human race, many concepts of death and resurrection. We speak of rising like a phoenix from the ashes, and this symbolism exists across many cultures.  For the Greeks, it is the phoenix, but it is also the Benu bird of the Egyptians. For some, it is the Nimbus, closely related to the sun. The Jews has the Milcham, and the Persians had the Simurgh. Native Americans have the Thunderbird, Russians have a Firebird, and the Chinese have the Feng Huang. Finally, the Japanese have the HoHo bird. These are all symbols of resurrection after loss.

The phoenix is a legendary bird that can live for 500 years. Knowing that the end was near, the phoenix builds a funeral pyre for itself. It lies down on this pyre as it begins to die and burst into flames, consumed by the fire. Then, from the fire, the phoenix  emerges, renewed, purified, more beautiful and regal than before. And so the cycle of life would begin again, for another 500 years, dying, purifying, returning more beautiful than ever, into perpetuity.

And so, I have been ruminating about what has died or is dying in my life that it’s time to release?

What should I simply release and let go of, so that I can rise again, a more beautiful and better version of myself?

As a spiritual being in a human body, what does eternity and perpetuity look like?  If the Kingdom of Heaven is here: what does that look like in my life and experience?

Renewal & resurrection:

And so as Easter moves into Pentecost – a time in which we rejoice in the Oneness that we have with Wisdom and Comfort – I am invited to contemplate what my renewal and resurrection looks like.

  • Who am I when I am the best version of myself, living as my Creator intended for me to live?
  • Who am I after I have walked through the fire of purification, with eyes clearly fixed on my purpose?
  • What does my spiritual self look like when I leave behind that which no longer serves me and commit to being the Light in this world?

As I live in Presence each day, committing to Peace in my life, I am assured that I have everything that I need.  That the source of my abundance and sustenance, my emotions & feelings, my thoughts and my bodily health is Perfect. I am simply asked to allow the Light to fill me and flow through me.

God, maturity, grow, Spirit, true, best version of you, body, emotions, spirit, John, baptizer, light, testimony, Messiah, prophet, voice, practicing presence, Shekinah

Who are you?

Readings:

  • John 1: 6-8; 19-28

God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.

19 This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” 20 He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.”
21 “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?”
“No,” he replied.
“Are you the Prophet we are expecting?”
“No.”
22 “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”
23 John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah:
     “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness,
    ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”
24 Then the Pharisees who had been sent 25 asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?”
26 John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. 27 Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.”
28 This encounter took place in Bethany, an area east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing.

So, I would ask each one of you this morning: who are you?

John the Baptist, knew clearly, who he was. Do you know who you are?  Are you living the life that God intended for you to live, being who God made you to be? Have you reached a place of maturity where you know and accept what God says about you, agree with Spirit that this is true of you, and become the best version of you that exists?

Let’s do a small exercise, and review different areas of our lives: starting with our bodies.  I want you to close your eyes for a moment, and just be present in your body. Be aware of your head, of your neck, your shoulders, your left arm, your hand, your right arm, your right hand… and now let’s move down to your legs. And now let’s move back to your head. And now, I want to ask you: are you your body? Or is your body simply the vessel that carries you?

If you are not your body, then who are you?

What about your possessions? Do those define who you are? Your home, your car, your bank account? Is that who you are?

How about your job, profession and career? Does that define who you are? How many people do you know that have changed careers? How many times in your life has your career and profession changed? How many people do you know that have been laid off or fired, that have quit, that have moved to another country and had to start over in another field? Is a person truly defined by their career or profession? Who are you?

What about your family? Are you mum, dad, the black sheep, the only single one left, the life of the party, the grandmother? Is that who you are? How many people do you know who have lost members of their family? And yet they still continue to live and find new identities and purposes.  Who are you?

How about your emotions? Are you happy, sad, angry, fearful, ashamed, tired? But is that who you are? Or is that simply a state of feeling and emotion that comes and passes?

John responds rather cryptically to the Pharisees and scribes: “I am a voice…” The first verses of John tell us a little more about John the Baptist’s identity:

“God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.”

And you, who are you? What were you sent for? God sent you… Have you discovered yet what for? Are you living out that purpose? Are you being everything that you could possibly be?

Your identity doesn’t depend on something you do or have done. Most of us confuse doing, having and feeling with being.  Instead of saying I feel sad, we identify with the sadness and say “I am sad”. Instead of saying that I work as a lawyer, we say “I am a lawyer”. Instead of saying I have a family, we lose our identity within that family.  But is that truly who you are?

John knew who he was. And Jesus certainly knew who he was.  Jesus said:

  • I am the bread of life.
  • I am the light of the world.
  • I am the door.
  • I am the good shepherd.
  • I am the resurrection and the life.
  • I am the way, the truth and the life.
  • I am the vine.
  • “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!

And who are you?

Now, I don’t care much for Joel Osteen, but I quite like part of his start to Sunday services and his declaration about the Bible:

This is my Bible.
I am what it says I am.
I can do what it says I can do.

Who are you?

Who does God, through the Bible, say that you are? Let me give you some ideas:

  • You ARE a child of God, complete in Christ – John 1: 12; Colossians 2:10
  • You ARE loved, accepted, redeemed, holy, forgiven, free from condemnation, chosen, established, anointed and sealed by God. 1 John 3: 3; Ephesians 1:6; Colossians 1:14; Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 1:21; Colossians 3:12
  • You ARE a joint heir with Jesus, united with God and one spirit with God Spirit. Romans 8: 17; 1 Corinthians 6:17
  • You ARE a temple of God: his Spirit and life lives in you. 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • You are God’s co-worker; a living stone on which the spiritual house is being built. 2 Corinthians 6:1; 1 Peter 2:5

So, if that’s who you are: what are you doing that lives up to this description of you? Does your life reflect who you are?

If you embodied this description of you: what would be different to how you are living your life at the moment? What needs to change in your life, for this to really be you? What would new things would appear in your life if this was you?

What scares you the most about this description of you?

  • Being a child of God? a joint heir with Jesus?
  • Being united with God – complete Oneness?
  • being complete?
  • being loved, accepted, redeemed, holy, forgiven, free from condemnation, chosen, established, anointed and sealed by God?
  • being God’s temple?
  • being God’s co-worker and co-creator?

What obstacles or idols in your life keep you from living this out? What habits or practices do you need to incorporate into your life to live this more fully?

What’s keeping you from living this life today? From walking out of the Church today and being You, the best You that there is, the You that God created you to be in all your fullness and glory, so that others might see Christ in you?

Because today, YOU are the hope of the world. You are the voice in the wilderness. You are the light in the darkness. God sent you!

So, who are you?

Sermon: Slavery or Freedom

Yesterday, July 1st – was Canada Day… in a couple of days, the United States will be celebrating 4th of July – a day of celebration of independence.  Choosing whom to serve.  It seems very appropriate then, that today we consider Romans 6: 12-23 that Phil Edmonstonread for us: freedom or slavery, discussing who we choose to serve.

For my example today, I’m going to use “anger”, because it is such a controlling emotion. How many have not felt controlled by their anger, rather than in control of their anger.  But the reality is that you could replace anger with any sin, because there are so many to which we can be slaves. Proverbs 6, verses 16 to 19 caution us:

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes (pride of the heart – arrogance, someone who is holier than thou, looking down on others because someone is better than…), a lying tongue (deception in speech, a lie is a lie – no matter how white or little),
    and hands that shed innocent blood (while it’s talking about murder, it even applies to gossip & character assassination),
18 a heart that devises wicked plans (remember – “as a man thinks in his heart, so he is”, this is premeditation, planning)
    feet that make haste to run to mischief (they have gone from machinations to execution readily – from planning to doing without restraint. But it’s more than that!  It is also when we know what to do and we consciously choose NOT to do it! It could be not participating in gossip – when you listen avidly and fuel the fire; it could be character assassination),
19 a false witness who breathes out lies (knowingly speaking falsely about another person, not simply lying – and that, once again, could include circulating rumours and gossiping),
    and (this is the worst one of them all, the 7th) one who sows discord among brothers (this is basically the sum of the previous 6… and we are back again to gossip & slander, speaking ill of another behind their back, creating divisions rather than unity).

But, unlike animals, humans suppress anger, and more importantly we have anger problems because we forget the purpose of anger.  Instead of using anger to protect our “cubs”, life, loved ones or friends, we have started to use anger to protect our ego!And the reason that I want to talk about anger, is that it is so closely related to many of these sins mentioned in Proverbs.  You know, that emotion that you feel: fury; wrath; rage; mad; ticked off; peeved… whatever you want to call it!  However much we may value loving kindness, we still get angry.  But what happens when anger controls your life? Let me clarify what I mean: there is a healthy and normal anger.  It is part of our fight/flight/freeze response, in which many species, not just humans, get a driving force of adrenaline that helps them escape from danger. With this, we respond to a perceived threat, whether to our children, our self, or our home.  We also see in animals, the same as in humans, the anger that arises from frustration, when we are trying to do a task, and confront failure in our performance.  I’ve watch more than one horse kick the bucket to get the water out!

And by ego, I mean our perception of our ego, which is partly how we want to regard ourselves (internal) and how we want others to perceive us (external).  Ego is our sense of “I”, the way we differentiate ourselves from others.  For some, it is an intoxicating sense of self-importance, something that must be protected.  But it is interesting that the Western view of ego is so different from the Eastern view of ego. For us, our ego is the self, the conscious part of me (my mind, my being) that knows the experience.  But, in Eastern tradition, ego is simply a part of the mind, a trait, a characteristic – but it isn’t actually WHO you are.  And this is important to differentiate when we are talking about anger, especially anger that is directed at protecting the ego! And this kind of anger is poisonous to us.

You all know the story about the boy with the bad temper, whose father sent him out with a bag of nails, and to hammer a nail into the fence every time he lost his temper, right? The first day, he had to drive 37 nails into the fence.  Over time, he got control of his temper, and it gradually dwindled down.  He discovered that it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.  Finally, the day arrived: the boy didn’t lose his temper at all.  He told his father, and for a moment they celebrated that he had finally learnt to control it.  The father than suggested that for each day that the boy was able to hold his temper, he pull one nail out of the fence!  It took a long time, but finally the boy was able to return to his father and tell him that all the nails were finally pulled out of the fence.
The father took the son by the hand, and they went to look at the fence. And here they saw all of the holes that the nails had left.  The fence would never been the same.  And the father told his son: “When ou say things in anger, or lash out at another person, the words leave scars like these.  You can put a knife into a person and draw it back out, but the hole remains.  Saying “I’m sorry” will not fix the wound.  It is still there.”

Many of you may think that you handle your anger well: “I don’t express my anger, I hold it in and don’t say nasty things.”  But bottling the anger up inside, if you are not actually addressing it, leads to problems also.  In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5, verses 21 and 22, Jesus said:

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

So, a small question:  how many of you know how a worm gets inside an apple?  You may think that the worm burrows in from the outside.  But scientists have discovered that the worm actually comes from the inside.  What happens is that the insect lays its egg on the apple blossom.  The blossom becomes an apple, and when the worm hatches, it is already INSIDE the apple. This is how our ego works on our thoughts, words and actions.  It is already inside of us, and we are busy protecting it!

But, like I said, our “ego” is not “us” – it is our perception of how we “see” ourselves and how the world “should see” us. It is only when we are able to not identify with our ego, that we are able to stop protecting it against every attack and begin to look rationally at our anger! Many of ous think “that made me so angry” or “if so-and-so hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have reacted that way”.  But the truth is: they didn’t actually “make us” do anything. They may have been a source of temptation, but the reality is that they simply EXPOSED us and how we relate to our ego! And what comes out of our mouths when we are angry, is simply an expression of what is in our heart!

If we would take a moment, and “listen” to the thoughts in our head when we are angry, our self-talk, you might hear:

  • I can’t believe they would say that me!
  • How dare they think they could treat me this way!
  • They aren’t going to get away with this!
  • Karma will teach them a lesson!
  • This isn’t fair!

And so our mind  and thoughts escalate it… IT controls us! How many times have you been angry about a perceived injustice and your mind just won’t let it go? You know you need to relax and stop thinking about the situation or the words, but it keeps playing over and over in your head.  It’s as if there were a recorder stuck on replay! And you decide you’re going to forgive, and the anger just keeps welling up inside of you.  You start praying, and the thoughts interrupt and keep side-tracking you. How long are you a slave to these thoughts and this anger? How long does the replay keep popping up in your mind?

Think about it: how many times is this anger about getting our own way, self-centered desires. You feel righteous indignation – but how righteous is it really? Wasn’t it really about getting your way? Being right? Having your needs met? Ephesians 4:26 warns us:

Be angry, but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

The whole purpose of the Bible is to draw us closer to God: the same God that is LOVE! God is love and we are called to draw near to God, draw near to LOVE. How do you draw near to love when you are controlled by anger? And what happens when you hold onto that anger past nightfall? You push it aside, deeper down, put a lid on it and ignore it. But it’s still there. You haven’t actually dealt with it, you’ve just covered it up. And when you try to draw near to God, you feel that there is something blocking you.

The truth is anger is a powerful emotion that deceives us into using it to demand our own way, and then we arrive in front of perfect love and we don’t know how to accept it, because perfect love drives out fear. Our ego can’t handle us letting go of our fear! It has been protecting itself for so long, that it can’t afford to let us let go of anything! It has to be right! It has to be protected! It cannot be vulnerable. It cannot be open and accepting. It cannot be forgiving.

If you want to get a handle on your anger, anger is not the problem you must address. Your temper is a symptom of what’s going on in your heart. If you gain self-control over your temper that’s great, but the deeper problem that causes your anger is what needs to change. How we act and live flows from what is in our heart – what we desire or want the most.  So, who do you serve this day? Are you a slave of your ego and your desires? Or do you have the freedom to love others? To see their interests, their point of view, and weigh what they want or need as well as your own wants and needs?

Freedom is being open to love – no longer under the yoke of EGO, but rather under the yoke of LOVE. Choose this day whom you will serve!

Sermon: Naked & Vulnerable

Genesis 3: 8-15

1 Samuel 8: 4-11, 16-20

I can’t tell you how excited I am to stand up here today and let you know that today we’re going to talk about getting naked, and not going with the crowd!

I’m going to give you a moment to let that sink in…

We just read in Genesis about Adam’s reaction when his eyes are opened, and he realises he and Eve are naken – they sow together fig leaves and make themselves clothes, and in verse 10, Adam responds to God:

“I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Yesterday, I was giving Isabella a bath, and I can tell you, two-year olds are not ashamed of their bodies, and have nothing to hide.  If I would let her, I’m pretty sure Isabella would’t put on clothes at any time – she doesn’t understand what she needs them for. She struggles against you when it’s time to get dressed and routinely says “NO” when you say she needs to put clothes on.

More importantly, Isabella has no need to put up defenses and barriers between her and other people – she wears her heart on her sleeve. She laughs without reserve, she cries without reserve, and she simply shows every emotion that she is feeling.  She even manipulates without reserve and then laughs when you call her out on it, totally living in the present moment and without shame. When she’s uncertain, she lets you know, reaching out for support.  And if she gets scared, she seeks immediate shelter!

Take a moment – when was the last time you were truly authentic?  How long has it been since you allowed yourself to take off your armour and defenses, take down all those barriers you’ve built to protect yourself, and actually allowed yourself to live and feel?  We talk about “putting on our face”, rather than putting on make-up, or “keeping a poker face” instead of showing emotions.

How long has it been since you were naked and vulnerable before the people that matter the most in your live?  Most of us have lived for far too long in a society where naked has a sexual connotation, and we’ve forgotten that it also means to be open and discovered; it means to be honest, sincere and real.  Like Adam, we hide.  And then, when those who know us best get through that defense and find us, we give excuses like Adam did – it was HER fault, not mine.  That woman that YOU gave me, God, SHE made me do it!  It couldn’t possibly have been my fault!

In coaching we talk about secondary and primary emotions – and most of us are only in touch with the secondary ones, and fail to accept to even admit that below that emotion there’s another one that we’re too afraid to even acknowledge.  Many times our anger is simply a mask for impotence or pain and hurt; or our coldness and indifference is a mask for pain and vulnerability.  We put on a brave front, when we are really scared and insecure.  And we get so busy trying to convince the world that this is who we are, that we lose touch with ourselves and our true emotions.

All of this seeps over and into our Christian life and our relationship with God.  How many times do we try to keep on the mask, saying hollow prayers and just going through the motions?  When was the last time you were completely unarmed and defenseless before God?

Ephesians 6: 10-18 tells us to put on the full armour of God.  I have a really simple question – have any of you ever tried to put on a suit of armour ON TOP of another suit of armour?  If you are already wearing your own suit of armour, how could you possibly put on the suit of armour that God has to offer?  I’d like to look at this quickly:

  1. You have a belt of TRUTH – when was the last time you had truth in your life? Blatant, honest truth?  Where you didn’t have to mince words and keep up appearances? When you were who you really are?  What if, instead of being protected by all these lies, you could be protected by truth? What difference would that make in your life today?
  2. There’s a breastplate of righteousness.  I don’t what your definition of righteousness is, but when I think of righteousness, I don’t only think of holiness or blamelessness – it’s all tied in there together with fairness, goodness, justice, honor, and virtue.  And once again I’m going to ask – how can you wear a breastplate of righteousness when you already are living a lie?  If there is no authenticity and you are not being true to yourself, what kind of goodness and fairness can you offer to others?
  3. Next we have your feet fitted with the gospel of peace.  Oh! That’s deep.  How many of you can say your feet are shod with peace and tranquility?  Or are you so busy, keeping moving and always in a hurry that you fail to truly have a moment for peace?  Why the busyness? What’s the hurry? Does it make you feel more important? Does it give you self worth? Are you hiding from other feelings and simply filling up the void and emptiness in your life with “I’m too busy”.  Is there room on your body to put on the gospel of peace on your feet? Or do you need to get naked in order to have this possibility?
  4. Then, you are to take up the shield of faith – faith in humanity, faith in yourself, faith in God’s goodness and greatness, living a life of conviction and constancy, with the certainty that “it is well with my soul”.  Did your faith get broken, like a child’s toy, when life’s struggles trampled on it?  When did your heart get broken, such that you could no longer believe?
  5. We’re called to put on the helmet of salvation – does it fit on your head? Or are there too many ideas and issues rolling around in there?  When was the last time you took time to accept that perhaps salvation doesn’t depend on you, but only on God’s grace!  Can you accept God’s grace and undying love for you?  Or are you once again, too busy, trying to earn it and deserve it with everything you are doing? Be still… and know that I am God! The helmet of salvation is simply knowing that it’s not all on you.  You aren’t in this alone.  And keeps your mind clear and free.
  6. We are each given the gift of the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  Yes, there’s the Word of God in the Bible, but there’s also the word of God in our hearts.  Have you taken a moment to listen to what God would say to you today?  Are you busy fighting your battles alone, rather than with God’s help?  When you ask God for guidance in your daily battles, do you actually sit quietly and listen to God’s answer?  Or do you just plow ahead into “this is what I need to do” without listening?  Who else are you not listening to?  The words of wisdom and advice we can find in the Bible are only available if we are willing to listen.
  7. And finally, we have praying in the Spirit – when was the last time you let you spirit pray directly in tune with God’s spirit? Have you taken the time lately to quieten all the senses and stop the rush, to be able to allow your spirit to pray, rather than your mouth, your emotions, your thoughts, your brain?

When we stand before God, we are supposed to be naked! Not naked, afraid and ashamed – naked, unashamed and vulnerable, open, holding nothing back, masking nothing.

Are you so busy trying to show everyone that you have it all together, that you’ve started telling this to God as well? Living your life as if you don’t need God’s help, assurance and salvation?  God wants us to get real! To get real with him. Get real with each other.  Talk from the heart!

To quote Kevin Smith:

  • Stop fakin’ the funk!
  • Stop fuontin’ and Stuntin’!
  • Stop trying to be something that you’re not before God!
  • Stop coming before God with “Oh holy, most reverent, wise & eternal God”!

GOD DOESN’T BELIEVE YOU!  As terrifying as it may be, he sees through the whole facade – you can’t keep pretending.

God wants us to be free! And freedom starts with being who you really are, and then building from there!

Speaking for myself –

I am terrified of being vulnerable and opening up – my facade is cold and unfeeling – and God says – “be vulnerable, risk being hurt, and open up” – then, and only there, will you be able to truly show God’s love to others.

My facade is being “too busy”, and always having excuses – and God’s response is “take time to simply be still and know that I am God”, there’s peace there.

My facade is that I am self-centered and ego-centric – and God’s response is that God is love, and there’s more than enough to go around!  I don’t need to live looking out for myself and my own interests, because the lie that I have been told that “there’s not enough” to go around is simply that, a lie.  There is abundance! I can always afford to give, because God promises to each of us:

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

God’s gift for us is that we are a special people – we don’t need to live like everyone else does.  We can be different and live in abundance.  But most of the time, we want to have a king to rule over us, like the people of Israel in Samuel – without realising the blessings that we will lose as a result.  Everyone else lives with barriers and facades, and so we should to?  I don’t think so – we are intended to live naked and exposed before God and men – covered in the armour that God has given to us, rather than the armour of our own making.