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Pick Your Planet

earth deadSome days, it can seem as if the world is dead. Covered in a  coating of ash and choking dust. The evening news, calls from friends or family about tragedy, painful memories and regret of past decisions, misunderstanding by those we love… Some days, it seems difficult to look about us and see any light at all, see any purpose, see that we are making any difference with our little candle flames against what seems the overwhelming force of darkness and shadow.

Yes, life can seem like that at times.

And if we aren’t careful… if we stay in that posture… if we continue to see only the darkness and shadow… it can seem to leach the very life force from us, and we can find ourselves in a very dark place indeed. A dangerous place. An empty and painful place.

What then? What are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to put on “Rose Colored Glasses”, pretend to be Pollyanna, just ignore all the pain and hurting people around us? Are we supposed to lie? To ourselves, to others, to God? What do we do, to be honest and truthful… and yet not be overwhelmed by the sorrows we open our hearts to?

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We exercise our Super Power. We use our power of Choice and Free Will to see Truth beyond the appearances. We can grasp and embrace a deep spiritual truth, at the same time that we heed the advice of one of the greatest realists of all time… The Apostle Paul.

Paul gave this instruction to the Philippian Church: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9]

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Paul is hardly a “Pollyanna” guy. He’s been chased hither and yon by both Religious Authorities and Romans… he’s been stoned, flogged, shipwrecked, thrown in jail, threatened with execution… you name it, he’s been there, done that. He’s seen friends and co-workers tortured and killed. Nothing “warm and fuzzy” about Paul, or rose-colored to his view of the world.

We all “know” these verses. We could probably recite them. But do we ever really LOOK at them? Do we ever really see what he’s saying here? Let’s do that…

Let’s look at this from the bottom up. Let’s see that Paul is giving a very PRACTICAL instruction here, revealing a very profound spiritual secret, a “technique” here.

We, in general, people, seek “peace”. “Peace of mind”, “peace of heart”, the kind of peace that lets us sleep easily and sit quietly without a thousand worries wrinkling our brow when the noise dies down on a quiet day. Paul says, “the God of peace will be with you…” That’s an extraordinary promise. The number one pharmaceuticals, the biggest money makers in the drug world in the U.S. today, are anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications. Astonishing, no?

So… for the “God of peace” to be “with us”… Paul says, “dwell on” and “practice” this dwelling as he’s been observed to do… Dwell on whatever is “excellence and worthy of praise”.

WHAT?

What about all the Bad Stuff? What about the occupation army? What about the Temple Guards breaking into our homes and dragging us off to be flogged or executed? What about our families turning us in? Is Paul CRAZY?

Nonetheless… Paul says for the God of peace to come to us… dwell on the excellent and worthy of praise. He even gives specific examples, whatever is: true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute.

Any questions? Pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Let’s be even MORE clear. Here’s what NOT to dwell on… Whatever is Untrue, False, Dishonorable, Wrong, Impure and Corrupt, Ugly, and Shameful.

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Gentle Reader, I’m not finger-pointing. This is as much confession as exhortation… But if you want to know “Peace”… DON’T let your mind revolve on all that negative, toxic, “stuff”. Just DON’T. It is poisonous, it is stress-inducing, it will rob us of peace, joy, and love. I’m not saying to ignore it, or deny it. When bad stuff happens, when toxic stuff happens, acknowledge it, embrace it, then release it and let it go. DON:T DWELL ON IT! Don’t ruminate, contemplate, meditate, and cling to it.  Minister in difficult situations as you can, embrace, affirm, encourage, acknowledge, love… and then refocus and re-sensitize to the good, the true, the lovely.

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Here’s the deep spiritual truth underlying this “technique”…

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:5

Jesus taught:“You are the light of the world. A city set on a [hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 5:14-16]

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Practical Application: Here’s the thing I’ve noticed in/for myself and my own life… When I focus on the “stuff out there”, the darkness and ash, I can lose my peace and joy, lose my center, and grow heartsick and weary. This leads me to a rather pathetic form of self-pity that takes away all my effectiveness. When the Lord gently leads me out of this spiral… when I again heed Paul’s advice… when I focus on Light instead of darkness, then two things happen.

earth beautifulOne, the God of peace joins me, feeds and nurtures me, and I focus again on the “I”… (what I can do, how I can help, how I can love), rather than on the “me” (the situation doesn’t heed me, appreciate me, acknowledge me). I get to bask in the radiance that is God, His love, His care, His glory… rather than the mud and the muck.

Two, (and this may sound a bit strange), but I “see” an entirely different world. I see a world of people doing unexpectedly kind and loving things. I see the flowers growing out of the sidewalk cracks, rather than just the concrete jungle. I see the grace, the joy, the laughter, the redemption and blessings, even in the midst of the most challenging environments and situations.

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I’ve come to realize that my Super Power, this Power of Choice and Will that God has given us, being created in His Image, allows me to “pick my planet”.

I can choose to see, focus, and dwell on that first one at the beginning of this post. I can glue myself to the “all bad news, all the time” channels on my mega-cable boob toob. OR… I can choose to get out amongst people, encouraging love, understanding, grace and embracing one another… whether for better or worse, in good times or bad, sickness or health.

That’s MY Choice! I can pick my planet! So can you. What’ll it be?

Grace to thee!

The Little Monk

 
 

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Journey – Cybernetic Eye

Desert Caravan“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. [Matthew 5:27-30]

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” [Matthew 6:22-23]

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. [Matthew 7:3-5]

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This evening as we camped, Our Lord appeared towards the end of the day with a spring in His step and sat down across the fire from me and a couple friends.

“Well done, Little Monk,” He began, confusing me a bit (which isn’t that unusual). “A couple weeks ago, I made you a promise. It was about ‘judging’. It was about how you ‘see’. You finally understood how, where, why the sin of ‘judging’ resides so deep in you, you tried to ‘stop’ and realized you could not gaze upon something without evaluating and measuring it. You tried your level best and got totally frustrated when you realized that… of yourself… it seemed you had only two alternatives: to look upon something, or to close your eyes altogether. ‘Judging’ or ‘blindness’ seemed your only alternatives… judging was in your very DNA, your fallen nature and you could NOT rid yourself of it.

“Once you realized this fully, after trying for a number of hours, you flopped down on your couch, furious, and gave up. And I was pleased, and I said so. We could not be here today to do THIS, if you had not made the effort and had the experience of being there trying to do THAT. I told you that now that you had surrendered on this, now that you had come to understand through the renewing of your mind about this, that now it would be up to Me to transform. I cannot give you the experience of transformation, until you yourself have walked through the effort of surrendering your body, and renewing your mind. It’s not ‘My rule’, it’s just how experience works.

“So, NOW, Little Monk, go to your pack and bring Me what’s on top.”

LocutusSo I did that, and I found a tech device. A cybernetic device. An optical sensor… in short… a robotic eye. It was dead and artificial. Here you see a Borg eye, but the one from my pack was much more sophisticated. It was dense and heavy, a rather human-looking eyeball, but clearly a “device” rather than a living organ. Grid lines and small symbols marked it as I turned it in my hand. I looked up, to see the Lord watching me.

“Go ahead and open it, Little Monk. There’s nothing messy about it. Go ahead and look inside.”

So I obeyed, and inside found complicated measurement and computing chips. It was an identical model to my own eyes. Size, color, perfect.

“That, Little Monk, was one of your eyes. It was organic, flesh and blood, while you had it. But it was just as artificial, fallen, and lifeless then as it is now. I have REPLACED and transformed your eyes. You NOW have the eyes I always intended for you… eyes with Light to them… eyes that no longer must “judge” and “evaluate” and “score” all that they see. But these eyes, your new eyes, can now “discern” as I intended them to, that you may look upon another and see their needs that you may meet them.”

“Simple, isn’t it? Your nature, your DNA, your fallen nature, your legacy from the Garden, kept you from experiencing what it is to see with MY eyes. That makes it harder to touch with My hands and the rest I call My children to.”

“Letting Me be Me in you… ‘You in Me and I in you and together we in the Father’… will now be vastly easier, if you chose to bring this to its proper close. THIS is what I want you to cast aside this evening… rid yourself of your ‘false eyes’, your ‘lifeless eyes’, now that I have replaced them that you may truly SEE much more closely to how I see.”

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I looked at the lifeless thing in my hand, this precision instrument, endlessly measuring the comparisons of elements with no significance whatever… and I threw it off into the brush without a care. I could now SEE so much better, with such better colors and vibrance… no comparison.

All I could say was, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you for transformation, for healing, for new eyes that can see with life rather than gridlines. This is wonderful.”

“You’re welcome, Little Monk. I could not do this, replace your very eyes, until you finally reached a moment that you were willing to go without sight, rather than continue to sin in your vision. That flash of surrender, that moment of your frustration, makes this possible. It is My joy to gift the Father’s children… always.”

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“If your eye offends thee…”

I never truly understood what He meant by this until today. And there is nothing, nothing at all, like transformation. Even one small bit at a time!

Grace to thee, Gentle Reader! — The Little Monk

 

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