Pearl: Faith and Worship
This issue of PEARL is devoted to the role of faith in our lives. We hope that readers will continue to send us personal insights, experiences and words of wisdom on this topic. Each individual person is such a unique aspect and reflection of God. Through sharing with each other we can be encouraged and empowered to continue to go forward in life ... with faith.
What Does Faith Mean to You?
A great deal of faith comes with flying blind, living with doubt. It exists in the things weíre not completely sure we believe in. No one shouts that the sun will rise tomorrow. We know that. No faith is needed. Faith is in what youíre not really sure you believe, but want, hope and need to be true. You have faith by investing in those things in which you secretly or openly have doubt, but you want to believe, not because it is believable but because it is worthy. Faith is a way of seeing a difficult person, or situation or thing, not in its hard reality, but in its potential form -- the way they could be if they were loved. Maybe this is how God sees us. -- Chris Garcia, Puerto Rico
If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. What wine is so sparkling, so fragrant, so intoxicating, as possibility! -- Soren Kierkegaard, (1813-1855, Danish Philosopher, Writer
Faith is allowing your heart to resonate with Godís heart -- then acting on emotional impulses originating in God, not yourself. -- Scott Simonds Portland, Maine
Faith has been an issue on my mind quite a bit in the last couple of years as I realized I needed to reevaluate what exactly it was I believed in. I have gone from thinking that God may be completely impotent and powerless to thinking that He may be all powerful but not all good. In all my struggles to understand the nature of God and my relationship to him I realized it was time for some simple faith.
There are many things we just cannot know for sure. It is at these times when simple faith is needed. There is a sort of childlike faith that I believe Jesus spoke of when he says we must be like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven. Because there are mysteries as many religions recognize it is comforting to just believe that God is there always for us with our best interest in mind.
In my experience when I shut down the storms of my mind and enter into a more meditative state of simple faith I am able to relax and let Godís grace fill me. It has not been a one time experience but a daily task of "letting go and letting God". Hopefully with time my mind and heart will be at peace most of the time.
Faith goes up the stairs that love has made and looks out the windows which hope has opened. -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Without faith, we are as stained glass windows in the dark. -- Anonymous
I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God. -- Abraham Lincoln
Faith is building on what you know is here, so you can reach what you know is there. -- Cullen Hightower
How often we look upon God as our last and feeblest resource! We go to Him because we have nowhere else to go. And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us, not upon the rocks, but into the desired havens. -- George MacDonald
Heavenly Father is watching this cosmos in the highest and noblest position of heaven, and He wants man to lead. He doesnít want to see human beings just obeying as if drawn around by the neck. Your mind is completely free. No one wants to be controlled. This is the same for everybody. Once you acquire the position of true love, as the treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven, you can go freely to the position of Heavenly Father. Anyone who is united with true love can attain eternal life. For the sake of love, Heavenly Father created us to be as eternal as He is. True love should be perpetual, shouldnít it? Therefore, to attain eternal life, we should live in the realm of true love. Through true love, attaining eternal life is possible. Why? All aspirations from the very beginning, including the motivation and process of creation, can be perfected centered on love. Through this process, the result comes. Perfection in mind and body is possible if we belong to that original true love. The limitless origin, cause, process, and ideal result can be connected only by love. Itís only through true love. Heavenly Father will exist eternally centered on true love. In order for Heavenly Father to exist forever, what should be the center? Eternal life is connected with love, so the eternal environment should be a place centered on the influence of love. To live in the realm of substance, we have to be the substantial embodiment of love. -- Sun Myung Moon
Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire. -- Teilhard de Chardin
The Alchemy of Love by Rumi
You come to me from another world From beyond the stars and void of space Transcendent. Pure. Of unimaginable beauty Bringing with you the essence of love. You transform all who are touched by you. Mundane concerns, troubles, and sorrows dissolve in your presence. Bringing joy to ruler and ruled to peasant and king. You bewilder us with your grace All evils transform into goodness. You are the master alchemist. You light the fire of love in earth and sky in heart and soul of every being. Through your loving existence and nonexistence merge All opposites unite all that is profane becomes sacred again.
When speaking about faith, often the concepts of "fear and guilt" are brought up. Our readers share ways that they have come to terms with the struggle which too often imposes darkness into what should be our joyous communion with God.
Dealing with fear and guilt in faith
by Doris Crompton Irvington, Alabama
A life of faith is by definition a life whose purpose is to restore a relationship of love with our Heavenly Father. At the time of creation, there was only love. Fear came after the fall and has been passed on since then. In order for Godís kingdom to be fully reestablished on earth, fear has to be eliminated from our hearts. Fear has been a great problem in my life of faith as I have believed in its power for so long.
It is an common scenario: we have a goal to reach, a task to achieve but we fear that if we donít do it right, or on time God cannot accept our offering or even worse that God does not love us anymore. In other words, we truly believe that Godís love is conditional.
I remember one instance when I was overcome by fear. Then one night, I woke up and heard a voice, distinct and soothing, saying; "In the kingdom, there is no fear". The relief I felt at that moment was so profound. Then I realized that where God is, fear cannot be because love and fear cannot mix.
After reading books about angels, I had started asking for their help and assistance. Whenever fear comes, I donít fight it, I just let it come to the surface and let it go, visualizing balloons rising in the air, taking my fears away. Then I ask the angels to fill me up with their heavenly energy. Fear is but an empty entity, it has no substance, it is not real in Godís eyes, it is like smoke that dissipates. But if we let ourselves be intimidated by it, the wall of smoke will look like a wall made of concrete and will become a major obstacle in our life. I finally came to a point where I have learned how to handle fear in a way that is liberating. It does not belong in my heart anymore and I gently let it go. When fear comes calling, just say: "Sorry, you have the wrong number" and hang up.
As far as guilt is concerned, I learned how to deal with it by raising my children. One very important truth that we have to keep in mind is that our relationship with God is a parent/child relationship. Godís love in unconditional and eternal. When our own children fall short of their goals or do something they ought not have done, they will feel guilty. So do we when we fall short of Godís expectations. But as parents, after the children sincerely apologize and promise not to repeat what caused the problem in the first place, do you carry an eternal grudge against them ? No, you donít. A few days later you may even have forgotten about it. How would you feel if your children would not be able to accept your forgiveness and carry with them for years the accumulated guilt of all the mistakes they have done. What a heavy and unhappy relationship this would be but so many people do that to God and feel so burdened that if He were to walk in the flesh and knock at their door, they would jump out of their window and run for their lives. This is not a parent/child relationship, this is a fearful master/servant relationship. The master may not forgive but the parent always does. So the point I am trying to make is if we manage to forgive our own children, how much more our Heavenly father is forgiving us. So , in conclusion we have to learn to move on, leave the past behind and continue our journey home to our Heavenly Father, never doubting His eternal and undying love for us.
Fear and guilt were with us during the long course of restoration, but now that the kingdom is coming we have to learn to leave them behind and learn to walk in love, and love only.
I am fear. I am the menace that lurks in the paths of life, never visible to the eye but sharply felt in the heart. I am the father of despair, the brother of procrastination, the enemy of progress, the tool of tyranny. Born of ignorance and nursed on misguided thought, I have darkened more hopes, stifled more ambitions, shattered more ideals and prevented more accomplishments than history could record. "Like the changing chameleon, I assume many disguises. I masquerade as caution. I am sometimes known as doubt or worry. But whatever Iím called, I am still fear, the obstacle of achievement. I know no master but one. Its name is understanding. I have no power but what the human mind gives me, and I vanish completely when the light of understanding reveals the facts as they really are, for I am really nothing." You see, if you have the courage to acknowledge your fears, you will be taking the first step toward controlling them instead of them controlling you. And if you take the next step toward understanding, you will be able to move past them to empathy, perhaps even to love. -- Author Unknown
Using Guilt To Find God
by Henri Schauffler, Washington DC
The initiate was having a deep faith struggle. She was talking to me in confidence and trust. "I donít think this movement has anything for African-Americans," she exclaimed.
Frustrated by my own inadequacy to help her understand that there was, indeed, hope for African-Americans and peoples of all races and cultures, if we just work out the Restorational issues, I finally responded, "Well, if you donít see anything here, why do you stay?"
She responded, "Youíre right. Iím out of here!" With anger and resentment, she stormed away, never to be seen again. That was in 1980. I still harbor guilt in my heart. How could I have helped this person stay connected to what I still know is the best hope to break down racial barriers, the Divine Principle? Why couldnít I control my tongue?
I believe I killed her connection to Godís modern Providence with my comment. I repent often for the mistake. Therefore, I believe that my guilt is actually a good thing, as long as I use it to build a repentful heart and find Godís forgiveness.
The problem comes when I donít find repentance and forgiveness, and just beat myself up. Then, the forces of darkness set in. ĎYouíre no good, you are a loser, you hurt people," etc. Self accusation arising from guilt is one of the Evil Oneís best tools. Ever met him using this tool? Chances are you have.
We may never get rid of guilty feelings. They might even move us to positive spiritual practices, such as the example I have given, above. But all too often, we let guilt kill our spirit, filling us with self-causation, resentment and depression. This is the wrong path.
Seriously pray about the guilt feelings. Are they really grounded in fact? If so, find repentance before God.
But, these guilt feelings may be false. I may have been made to feel guilty by another individual with wrong motivations or facts. If so, I need to find forgiveness in my heart for that person .
In most cases, turning feelings of guilt into feelings of repentance and/or forgiveness will heal the heart rapidly. Guilt = the "dark side.íí Repentance and Forgiveness = Godís Heart in its purest form.
It is a life of faith to search for the world of eternal life. It is a life of faith to search for Godís eternal love because you should meet with an eternal love as well as an eternal life. Godís joy and your own joy will meet each other; then you will look for a final goal, which is Godís joy and your own joy. That will be one, not two, joys. It is the way of faith. Therefore, it is a most important matter how much an individual who lives a life of faith can have an ever-increasing love and power of life. -- Sun Myung Moon
By Larry R. Moffitt, Washington DC, July 2000
Had to go into the office this beautiful Saturday morning to prepare a budget proposal related to one of the tiny slivers of the cosmos that have been placed in my care. The proposal is a major opus, including spreadsheets, time lines, graphs, narrative and interpretive dance.
But first I would need mental preparation. I rose with the dawn and biked over to the WB&A Trail a few miles from home. The initials stand for Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis and refer to a light-rail train that ran between those points in the early 1900s. Now the WB&A Trail is a nearly finished asphalt bike and rollerblade trail running through woodlands on the former train bed. Itís still under construction and I banged my way along the first stretch, an unfinished mile embedded with stones and deep, butt-destroying ruts. My tax dollars in action.
Todayís plan was, approximately: bike for a couple hours, get all kinds of great ideas, drive in to the office, write this amazing death-defying proposal, go home and kiss everybody, throw something on the grill, continue aging. More or less in that order.
At the eight-mile point I spotted my role model on the trail. Just another biker about my age, he wore a tight t-shirt and hadnít shaved that morning. He was muscular, lean, tanned and had an earring in one ear. Yeah, Iím a whole lot like him, I thought, except for the muscles, being lean, the tan and the earring. We both had on T-shirts and neither of us had shaved.
In my 51st year I have been a Unificationist more than one-half of the time I have been alive. Thatís fine, but the first leaves are just now beginning to turn in the autumn of my life and so I bike. I bike as a form of prayer. I take my mid-life quandaries and occasionally my tears of frustration, to God as the streets fly beneath my wheels. Me and He chew things over aloud in the mutual hope that my understanding will be more fully baked by the time I get to where Iím going.
I bike to turn my face to the sun; I bike to bite the wind; I bike to supervise the awakening of these early morning woods; I bike to surrender to those things I cannot control. And though I never, ever admit it, I may be trying to slow down time. What pathetic hubris to think I bike to take minutes off the clock. But I do, just the same. I am motivated by imagining what a fine thing it would be to be able to sit outside the room with my health and all my marbles intact fifteen-plus years from now when my daughter Sunhwa (age 6) gives birth to her first.
Emerging from the woods, sitting at a stoplight, I am suddenly aware that people sitting in a car are watching me chattering away out loud to my God. I briefly wonder if God is doing it aloud back at me from heaven, and if Heís getting funny looks from the angels. What if they think God is channeling Larry?
Today weíre discussing how brief is a human beingís life. "Make the most of whatever time you have," He reminds. "Even I donít know when youíre going to come to the spirit world."
"You mean turn room temperature?" I ask.
"I wish youíd quit calling it that."
"You know what I like best about biking?"
"Meeting me in the woods?"
"Yup. That, plus it evaporates my stress and itís cheaper than a shrink. And besides, if I didnít do this Iíd probably drink. Does that shock you?"
On the ride home, I replayed old memories from the cross-country team in high school. Our race was two miles, but in our workouts after school we ran about 10 miles every afternoon. Best shape of my life. I begin hatching a plan to ride all the way into work one day soon, about 17 miles each way by the route I would have to take. I outline the plan. There are some serious hills.
"So whaddya think?" I send the question Godward.
"I have mixed feelings. On one hand it would be a great adventure. On the other hand, itís a nutty idea."
"You sound like my wife."
"I wonder why."
We talk about it all the way back, not about the pros and cons, the hills and traffic but only about challenge and fulfillment. After a while it begins to look very, very possible to both of us.
Still bending His ear as I did a cool-down stretch through my neighborhood, I told my God that my bride was already awake when I woke up this morning to go riding. She had been looking at me again as I slept, and when I opened my eyes I found myself looking right into hers. "Good morning, frog lips," she smiled.
He loves those kind of stories. I do too, and as I stand on the doorstep of my own personal autumn, and at last at a point in my life when I am patient enough to live fully in the present moment, I can think of no better way to be greeted in the morning.
Meditations for Children series, by Maureen Garth: Starlight, Moonbeam, Sunshine and Earthlight (Also by Maureen Garth for teens and adults: respectively Inner Space and The Power of Inner Self)
Reviewed by Cathi Close
If there was ever a pearl (or in this case, a pearl necklace!) to be discovered, it is this series of Meditations for Children. Maureen Garth uses "simple but imaginative stories to lead children into magical worlds in which they are released from fears, discover peacefulness and stillness and experience wonder-filled adventures."
Each meditation is rich with visualizations and begins with a star. The star is special in that it is described as the childís very own personal star. They can make it any color they like. As the meditation begins their star emits a glorious white light which fills their body right down to their toes with love and warmth. Also there is a guardian angel who takes them to a garden which is their own special place. Before entering the garden there is a large tree called a Worry Tree on which the children are invited to pin their cares and worries. (We could all use one of those, couldnít we?)
Once in the garden each chapter provides a different meditation. Some of these include Little White Cloud, The Waterfall and the Cave, The Grandfather Tree, Being a Color, The Time Machine, The Magic Cloak, The Moonbeam Fairy, The Wishing Well and many, many more. As the children are led in these meditations there are plenty of invitations for their individual creativity and visualizations to lead the way.
A number of years ago, a friend and I decided to gather our kids together and have a meditation circle with them. To add some atmosphere we lit candles and incense and played some quiet meditation music. We also gave each child a smooth "meditation" stone to hold to help their concentration. Of course, none of these things are necessary but our children did enjoy the effects.
The meditations, themselves, are quite simple in content and yet we were quite amazed as each child described to us afterward what he or she "saw" and experienced! For instance, one boy entered a rabbit burrow in the Grandfather Tree and enjoyed some carrot soup with the rabbits! He said that as he walked along the pathway to the tree the pebbles moved out of his way. Also in the tree he found a large room full of beds. He had fun jumping on them until he got tired and then snuggled up on one an fell asleep. He actually was asleep when the meditation ended!
Of course, all the kids enjoyed the colorful environments and the normally wild animals who become tame and friendly and want to be petted. Children, by nature, are very receptive and have so few reservations that they easily participate in exercises like these which convey an especially magical perspective. Well, most of them do, anyway.....
Since the birth of my last child (now four), I had quite forgotten about these wonderful books. Recently, I got them out with the thought of introducing these meditations to him before bedtime. His reaction was nothing like what I had expected! First, he wanted his special star to be black (donít worry, heís not depressed ... just an avid Batman fan). Then, he didnít like the guardian angel at all! When the angel opened the gate so he could enter into the garden where all the animals were, he was outraged and exclaimed, "Hey, I donít want to be in this story!" And he was certain the tigers were going to bite him. Nothing I said could convince him otherwise. I quickly tried to change the tigers to rabbits but it was hopeless. He informed me, "When the angel lets me in the gate then Iím going to climb over the fence and go home!" And that was the end of that!
I guess this little guy isnít quite ready for such a spiritual adventure. Then again, the thought just occurred to me that we could visit the Batcave and Batman could substitute for the guardian angel. ... Hey, whatever works!
Childrenís Version of the Bible
The following statements about the Bible were written by children and have not been retouched or corrected .
In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, God got tired of creating the world, so he took the Sabbath off. Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark. Noah built an ark, which the animals come on to in pears. Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night. The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with the unsympathetic Genitals. Samson was a strongman who let himself be led astray by a Jezebel like Delilah. Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the Apostles. Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread which is bread without any ingredients.
The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten ammendments. The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple. The seventh commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery. Moses died before he ever reached Canada. Then Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol.
The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him. David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Finklesteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times. Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines. When Mary heard that she was the mother of Jesus, she sang the Magna Carta.
When the three wise guys from the east side arrived, they found Jesus in the manager. Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption. St. John, the blacksmith, dumped water on his head. Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do one to other before they do one to you. He also explained, "a man doth not live by sweat alone." It was a miracle when Jesus rose from the dead and managed to get the tombstone off the entrance. The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 decibels. The epistles were the wives of the apostles. One of the opossums was St. Matthew who was also a taximan. St. Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage. A Christian should have only one spouse. This is called monotony.
GUIDEPOSTS was founded in 1945 by the renowned Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and his wife, Ruth Stafford Peale. The organization is unified around this mission: Guideposts helps people from all walks of life achieve their maximum personal and spiritual potential. Guideposts is committed to communicating positive faith-filled principles for people everywhere to use in successful daily living.
The primary activities of the GUIDEPOSTS organization are award-winning GUIDEPOSTSí magazines, best-selling books, and outreach ministry services that demonstrate what can happen when faith and positive thinking are applied to daily life. Guideposts is a monthly magazine featuring first-person, true-life stories that offer practical solutions to everyday problems and inspiration for overcoming personal difficulties. Guideposts magazine is first and foremost about people. People from all walks of life -- celebrities to schoolteachers -- who tell personal stories of how faith has helped them overcome enormous adversity or simply face lifeís day-to-day challenges with optimism, determination and joy. For 55 years Guideposts stories have touched millions of lives. These stories donít preach or pontificate; they move the reader and provide that most precious human commodity-hope. Most of all, Guideposts is its readers; its stories are their stories -- true personal stories that inspire and help. There are four other magazines in the GUIDEPOSTS Publishing family: Angels on Earth was created to showcase faith-affirming stories of angels and contains beautifully illustrated angel artwork. This inspiring magazine relays messages of tragedies averted, diseases cured, and destinies altered as well as stories of people who perform angelic deeds in their daily lives. Guideposts for Teens is a bimonthly magazine featuring true stories about real teens living in real life situations. Each issue showcases teenís unique challenges, celebrates their triumphs and illustrates an inspiring message behind each amazing personal story. Guidepost for Kidsis a bimonthly magazine for children ages 7 to 12. The magazine encourages children to stretch their imagination, strengthen their self-esteem and build lasting values. Each issue is filled with positive-spirited articles and new inspirational role models for the youth of today. Plus: The Magazine of Positive Thinking provides readers with handy access to inspiring articles, columns or previously unpublished thoughts by Dr. Peale.
Check out this wonderfully inspiring website with samples of articles, real-life stories and ordering information (including a free first issue). www.guideposts.org or: write Guideposts 39 Seminary Hill Road Carmel, NY 10512 for info.
Submitted by Doris Crompton
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