Eye – Mind 2014-50

“Well, pretty hard to see what another person is thinking, but would it not be great if we could do as this poem suggests? The key to the writing of this poem is the fact that it is the SELF, that you can see into, if you look hard enough and are honest in what you describe seeing. I remember looking into a mirror one day, while shaving, and asked myself, just what I was capable of doing, business wise. It was a revelation that I admitted my faults of what I was NOT able to do and this, in turn, helped me to see my strengths.

There is a paragraph in a book entitled, “The Fires of Spring” by James Michener, that I keep on my computer stand. It describes the “journey that men (or women) make to find themselves.” The premise of the passage is basically that of dealing with life in a certain way and if done correctly, you will “find a mansion which yhou can inhabit with dignity, all the days of your life.” Interesting, but you have to ”look into the mirror and be  honest with yourself, first.”

Eye –  Mind        2014-50

Look into the eyes of man

and see the workings of the mind

Delve into the persons thoughts

and tap the rational of their thinking.

Experience the love, bravado, hate and fear,

and know of the emotions of  inner feeling.

Look into a mirror at self

and see the reality of same- of living.

Den Betts

Ancestral Descendent 2014-49

I wrote this poem during the process of writing a family tree genealogy book that I published. I used it to illustrate the fact that we all come from a distant line of people. This relates to early man who believed in “Mother Earth” and from them, we had people who came to the “colonies” to settle and finally to us today. I have a poem entitled “Earth Brothers” that goes more into detail on  how I feel about our being “cousins” on earth, that I will share with you sometime next year.

Ancestral  Descendent -2014-49

Down through antiquity

The line drawn nigh

Son of the mother earth,

Father in the sky

The bones of long ago,

Rest in final peace

With garlands of flowers, a tool

To travel to the beyond place

Continued seed traveled far

Down the winding trail

Meeting, joining, sailing

In a life so very frail

Todays descendent standing, amidst

The throng of life’s reach,

Brother and sister to all

Unknown, but part of each……

Den Betts

Communication with the Holy Spirit 2014-48


Communication with the Holy Spirit 2014-48

This is not an easy subject to speak about or ever give advice to others wishing to have a communication with the Holy Spirit (God). Why!?

The children of God are led by the Holy Spirit as stated in Romans 8:14. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. “  I guess that if I think we are led by the Holy Spirit then somehow we should be able to hear from God and how we are to be led by the Spirit. I don’t think we as people of faith were really taught about this subject for various reasons. It could be that there is the fear that we would be open to the Spiritual realm of life and we could possibly be open to contact with another spirit such as a demonic one that would try to look and hear like the Holy Spirit or even God Himself. Don’t know, just a thought. My Spiritual Director guided many of us through the book “Naked Spirituality, by Brian McLaren and this has some stuff about hearing from God, but this is not done on a regular basis for all to hear.

I believe in the Holy Spirit and also know we can hear from Him if we listen.  I also think that we must be aware to be careful about who is talking to us and try to discern when we are hearing from God and not something else coming from a demon or the evil one.  Not an easy thing to do, I admit, but still is something to consider. I do NOT think that we should ignore those areas of communication with God based on the fear of the evil one. God still would like to communicate with us in some way and loves to hear us pray to Him and ask for his blessing of discussion.

Look or read about God talking to those in the Old Testament. He did so, on a regular basis. If God is the same God of then (which I think He is), then he still wants to communicate to every one of us in the ways He did then and more so. If you could call it “supernaturally communicating” back then, go ahead and call it that today if you wish.

Now the thing to do is learn how to hear from the Holy Spirit (or God if you wish), which may take a while to learn the process by trial and error. We hopefully will learn the way of doing so and know that it is the Lord, when it is demons or the evil one, and when it is us making it up as an imagination of thought. I said it was not easy!

How do we think God can talk to us?  There are a number of ways God will use to communicate to us or more if you think of any that work for you.   Let me begin by mentioning what I have said before; using key Scripture verses about the Holy Spirit.

Some of the major key verses might help us to receive direct communication from Him at times. Perhaps we should learn these from the people that teach us at church, but regardless, make up your own mind if you wish to get into a discussion with the Lord if you want. God wants to talk to us and have us hear Him and what he has to say.  So, we can try to hear, try to have Him answer us or let us know something, but we do have to listen for Him.

I have previously mentioned that the Holy Spirit (God) is our personal guide and teacher in daily living. The verses in the Bible to refer to are John 14:26 and John 16:13 for reference. Also, to obtain a personal relationship with Him is found in Corinthians 13:14 and Philippians 2:1 to recap what I said before in another letter.

So, another thought: Do not resist, rebel, grieve or quench the Holy Spirit (another time to say— GOD). Let me go one more stepping stone forward. The following texts might be read for info sake.

Isaiah 63:10 “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit: so He turned Himself against them as an enemy, and He fought against them.” I don’t think I want to do that myself or have God turn away from me and you would have to read the text to put it in perspective.

Thessalonians 5:19-22 “Do NOT quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”  These are heavy words to think about, but again do the research of the text to find what it pertains to.

Acts 7:51  “You stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” Wow, sort of a statement to learn by, even though you may not feel like it means you or I.

Ephesians 4:30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  This is another “Do Not” statement in the Bible saying to get with the program of learning.

I think the above tells us that God, the Father, is  somewhat yelling at us that once the Holy Spirit starts to move in on us and our lives that He will want us to work with Him in the process. If we rebel, quench resist or grieve the Holy  Spirit, we are somewhat doing the same with God Himself, and His son Jesus Christ and that is not where we want to be.

I think that these verses somewhat show that the Holy Spirit does have a specific ministry with all of us and can become part of our lives.  IF this is not so, then why does the Bible use the words that were used? If the Holy Spirit was not trying to become very active in our daily lives in the first place, there would be nothing to resist, grieve, or rebel against in the first place. If the Holy Spirit (God) is teaching us in daily life and is trying to communicate to us, our job in life is to learn how He is going to do so.  How do we do that? (I will use Holy Spirit from now on without the (God) following.)

We have to jump right in and try. We have to make a choice to hear and tread water to a degree into being with God and hearing Him. It may be scary because you may not hear Him right away. I find that He will give me insight to what He is thinking and what He wants to say, when He wants to and I cannot force the issue or plead to hear or demand to hear from Him.  Plus, many times it goes beyond the vocal word of God and becomes a part of the mystical way of hearing from Him.

I have listed below some ways to communicate with God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and though you might not have been taught to do so in the past, it is your decision as to whether or not you want this supernatural realm opened up for you by God the Father. These thoughts came from Mike Bradley of Bible Ministries, from an online source.

  1. The Inner Witness or Inner Knowing
  2. The Word of God
  3. Leadings
  4. Check in your Spirit
  5. Quickening’s
  6. Visions
  7. Dreams
  8. Prophecies
  9. One More – Praying

If after reading the above, you decide you would like God to open up with these ways of communicating with Him, then I suggest you go directly to God in prayer and ask Him to allow the Holy Spirit to become very active in any of these ways in which He uses to communicate with us. Tell Him or ask Him you WANT Him to open up this realm of communicating and it will be His perfect will to do so at your present level of spiritual development with Him. Praying is a start and it helps to keep doing it to hear from Him.

If you DO put that request before God, then He will take you seriously and He will very gradually lead you into this realm and from there, the Holy Spirit will start to move in some of these areas for you. The Holy Spirit will show you how to discern when it really is Him communicating to you, versus when it is your emotions or imagination talking to you. I was hesitant to start because I DID think it would be my imagination doing the talking and not God. I do NOT exactly know how to say HOW I KNOW when it is God talking, but suffice to say, it is obvious when it happens.

Inner knowing and inner witness  

  1. The Inner Witness or Inner Knowing- What exactly does this mean? Let me first list two versus from the Bible.
  1. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”( Romans 8:16)
  2. “I tell you the truth in Christ; I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 9:1)

OK, the first verse (A) is telling us that the Holy Spirit Himself bears witness in our human spirit that we are children of God.  If He can do that then He can also bear witness in our spirits with other things as well. Then the next verse (B) will prove that to us. The apostle Paul gives us additional revelation when he says that his conscience was also bearing witness in the Holy Spirit. Could then, this mean the Holy Spirit was bearing a good witness for Paul in his conscience, which is part of OUR human spirit.

The key word here in both versus, is of course, “witness” The Holy Spirit is bearing witness to something in our human spirits. Then what is a good “witness” when we do receive one of these from the Holy Spirit? I would think that the Holy Spirit is confirming in our spirits that we are saved and that we are now children of God.  We have read and heard this many times in church.

What then is “inner knowing” in relation to the Holy Spirit?

This is getting closer to the hearing from Him. The Holy Spirit will transmit the knowledge He wants you to have on something as strong— the inner knowing. If you think that a Pastor/Priest had a good witness via preaching you could say that the inner witness is a “knowing without any shadow of a doubt” You know, that  you know, that you know, without a shadow of a doubt. Some people could call this inner knowing an enlightenment or illumination or even supernatural on what a Scripture verse may mean that you heard. I could use the term “inner knowing” to best describe how the Holly Spirit supernaturally communicates to us in this life.

So, therefore, when the Holy Spirit communicates something directly to us through this “inner witness”, it will be a knowing moment without any shadow of a doubt. If it is received for the first time it will be taken as coming from the Holy Spirit due to the strength and conviction of it. And, once you start to receive these kinds of inner knowing’s from the Holy Spirit you will be able to discern when one is REALLY coming from Him, or when it is made up in your mind and imagination. Actually when it happened to me I was awed and somewhat scared and amazed that the Holy Spirit would communicate to me the way He did. It was NOT a thunderous voice blasting out toward me; it was a firm, collected voice that had compassion and love for me in what He was trying to say to me.

Again, it will not come out of your head or your imagination, or emotions at the moment, but if like I experienced it, it will be from around you with you as the centerpiece of the heard word. You will “just know” it is not your mind throwing words at you, but His words that have particular meaning to what is being said for you. Quite an experience! And it CAN happen to you! The words will be clear, concise and with a definite inner knowing on the message being transmitted to you.

What do you think the Holy Spirit will communicate to you and why?  There are so, so many things that will give the Holy Spirit reasons for doing so. Actually, an infinite number of things that will help you through life in one piece and give you the ability to cope with problems that may be thrown your way.

I related in the past that the Holy Spirit is a called a helper in the Bible and will repeat below what I wrote.

  • “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”  


  1. (John14:26)
  2. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13)

BUT, though this might be true He cannot help or do for you unless He can communicate with you directly and tell exactly what He wants you to hear and do. So, the inner witnesses and knowing from the Holy Spirit will come to you through trial and error in a process that may take time to learn and do. When it is truly from the Holy Spirit then you can totally depend of it and from there, take action that needs to be taken.

Another way for the Holy Spirit to communicate with us is by giving us a direct verse from Scripture.

This has helped me a few times and is sort of amazing to have it occur. I did not open the Bible and point to a verse and expect it to jump out at me with an answer to a problem. But the Bible is loaded with many ways to learn and is pertinent to many things that relate to us. The Bible contains the Word given to us from the writers of each Book and each Chapter and Verse.  I believe the Bible is a book that is inspired by God (Holy Spirit included) and as such it is full of words that have meaning to all of us.

I believe that it is up to us to take quality time so we can load our minds with morsels of teachings that are in it. Then, the Holy Spirit can take us back to remember certain Scripture verses when we might need them and He can do so, because we have already done our part by getting the Bible verses in us.

Now, I will admit that I have a terrible memory, at least a horrible one. So, I cannot do a total or partial recall of a Bible verse that I can bring up.  To be honest I have read the Bible, but it does not stick in my mind very well. I got a “How to remember verses in the Bible” book and I did not do well in learning the how, like I expected.

So, it may take a while or have us do something different.  The NIV Bible has a great section at the rear that has key words listed that tells you where to find the word in the Bible under the Book name and the verse number. I use this as a reference to look up something. I did so with one word and found the exact message I hoped to find that pertained to my problem at the time.  Really great! Try this as one way and see what it does. Did the Holy Spirit help me? Perhaps: but the Word gave me my answer and I appreciated it.


What does leadings mean to us. Well, the Holy Spirit can help us by telling or leading us to do or not to do something.  I listed below a verse that tells us that the Holy Spirit will lead us in our lives. Also, Jesus was also willing to be led by the Holy Spirit when He was here on Earth in the flesh.

  1. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)
  2. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

(Matthew 4:1)

If God is telling us that we are to be led by the Spirit, and we hear that Jesus was also led by the Holy Spirit, then I would think God wants us to learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit in this life also.

The Holy Spirit could be thought of as “leading” us or we could say He is communicating by prompting us at times.  It could be He is “nudging” us to do a certain thing. Maybe it will be like we are being pushed somehow or I can say there was a wind at my back to do a certain thing or go a certain direction. Or, maybe God did not want me to go somewhere or in a certain direction and hopefully we will fill no “leading” by the Holy Spirit to do so and it is a way of communicating to us in a different way.

This is something that we will learn through a process of again, trial and error. After we have had a bunch of them, we can get adept at being able to tell when one is coming from the Holy Spirit and not from our own desires and emotions. Takes time, like a lot of things.

Check in Your Spirit

I mentioned before that we can sometimes get the “feel” that we should NOT do something and that this may be coming from the Holy Spirit. When He does NOT want to move in a certain way or direction, many of the times what you will pick up from Him is a “check in your spirit”.

I have had this happen to me, where I did not feel right about doing something. It is like a barrier to your thinking and you just KNOW that you should not go forward.  This can be big or little things in life. The biggee would be where you are being told not to board a plane because of a “feeling” of not doing so. This is where the plane may crash. A little thing would be so many things where we know not to do something that we are about to do in life. The problem is where this always happens and we begin to think it is our own natural emotions and fear and is not really coming from the Holy Spirit.

If you get this feeling for a “little thing” and you start to realize the Holy Spirit is working with you, then perhaps you will start to trust where it is coming from for you. This is not an easy communications to learn from, but I throw it in to give you thought. I can’t remember a “biggee” where I was saved by the Holy Spirit, but have heard of things happening to people who listened to Him, instead of moving forward towards a dangerous situation.

This is hearing from the Holy Spirit, but in a different way. When we are uneasy or queasy about doing something, maybe we should heed what we feel and are in fact hearing from Him. Just a thought!

The apostles had this feeling and “they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia…. They tried to go into Bithynia (near the Black Sea), but the Spirit did not permit them.” (Acts 16:6-7)


The act of the Holy Spirit will jump at you in a quickening.   A verse from the Scriptures hits you like a bang, where you can snatch it and see what the message is for you.  Maybe a Pastor/Priest  gave you words during a sermon that just makes sense to you in a way that is unusual but meaningful to you. You are reading a book and “BAM” you see information that the Holy Spirit brought to you that was “for you” and only you at the moment.  If that is the case, listen to Him speaking at that moment. If you are “quickened” by something like this, in most cases the message was something you needed to hear and the Holy Spirit may have been involved.

If this happens to you, move on with it and take the reading or the message under advisement. It may be for you alone, even though others heard the same thing at the same time. Do not yearn to hear these things, but discern when it is really the Holy Spirit doing this for you. Let them come naturally, but when they do happen, listen. Occasionally, these have happened to me and I try to accept them when they do so.  They are quite amazing when they happen, so accept them when they do.


OK, the next three ways the Holy Spirit will communicate to you are shown via a Scripture text from the book of Joel.

“And it will come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Holy Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also my menservants and my maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2: 28-29)

I think the words “on all flesh” means everyone is capable of getting prophesies, the dreams and visions that the Holy Spirit will offer.  I know I have had a vision that I can contribute, somewhat, to the Holy Spirit, but it was unsolicited at the time, but was still an awesome experience.

I had an open vision whereas my eyes were wide open and I was part of the vision when God allowed me to be part of it. It was in 3-D and quite convincing, and a little scary to a degree.  I think we can also get closed visions that occur in our minds only or a picture in our mind’s eye, but I would believe they are not as dramatic as the open ones. The Holy Spirit could give us more information and He could communicate with us giving more info and knowledge this way.  Sort of like a snapshot in our mind, by Him.

If we get something “out of the blue” and not expected, perhaps the Holy Spirit is helping us in His way to show us what He wants us to know. If it is from Him, a good “inner witness” of knowing it IS from Him and not imaginary and formed in your mind by us, ourselves.  A trial and error process will let us know and we will have to discern what is happening. It is not cut and dried and easy and maybe a little confusing, I would think.


I guess the thing about dreams is the fact that they might be called “visions of the night” or even daytime if that is the case. Regardless, I would imagine that they are not common, but still they are something to consider.  Like many dreams that sometimes fade away, the Holy Spirit ones will stay with us.  I would hope there is a personal message for us with the dream.  I think we should write the dream down on paper to remember it and interpret the dream to see if it is from Him and not in our sleep driven mind. It would be a shame if we ignored what is given to us and not consider where it might be coming from for us.

I believe I might have had 1 or 2 of these dreams that I feel came from the Holy Spirit, but maybe more that I got but did not attribute to Him.  I really believe that if we have an open mind about this area as well as the others that I mentioned, we might be able to communicate with God more often and regularly.  To feel that this is all hogwash and not possible is somewhat of a guarantee that we may not hear from God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is NOT a wispy, special entity of God, the Holy Spirit IS God in a different form for us to hear from on a constant basis. That is what I believe. Again, I really believe there is a Holy Spirit and that it communicates to us!


I can only state that the gift of prophecy is when we receive a direct word from the Lord and that every word we receive in the prophecy will be direct words from the Lord. Prophecy is where there is a foreknowledge of future events or a presentation of hidden things which cannot be known by the natural light of reason.  I cannot really explain this right now, so will hold off and keep this one to myself and if you want to hear more about it, ask me. The reason I include it here is because I do believe it is possible and comes from God, but it is unusual to have it happen. Usual skeptics think prophecies are no more than coincidences or are invented by a so called prophet, but I like to think of it as an intuitive knowing or type of perception by certain people with divine insight. In essence, I believe that prophecy is sometimes given to some as a Spiritual gift by the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.


More than anything you do, try praying to God, to hear from God.  I add this because He wants to hear from us and if we listen, we can hear from Him. Perhaps not right away, but in His time He will get back to you. Or, again, in His way and time He will talk to you and let you know what He is thinking, desiring, wants you to do, etc.  It again, is in His time and for His reasons, so I cannot say when it will happen or why or any other circumstance for it to occur. Not much help there, but that is the way it is.

Wrap up

I again, state that I believe the Holy Bible is inspired by God.  I feel that if Scripture is a way to hear from God and the Holy Spirit then we should believe what we read. The Holy Spirit is our personal guide and Teacher in life and he can only do so if we listen and by listening, we can hear from Him. I believe that we have to really want to hear. If we do not, then we will not hear and I don’t think He will go out of His way to push you in believing or hearing from Him, unless He has a reason. He did this in the OT and the NT and He is still the same God as then.

I would think that some think this discourse is wacky or unbelievable and they have the right to think that thought.   I think it takes belief, discernment, and a true desire to hear from Him and it takes time to do so. It is up to you to decide what you want to do, but if you decide to try and listen for Him, then, in time you will hear Him. That is what I believe.

Disclaimer:  I have researched various sources and have stated some facts and opinions from others.  I do not claim to be an expert   but have included personal experiences to allow others to know what has happened to me and to encourage others to strive to listen and to hear from the one and only true God of the Universe.   Some of the above is taken from an online site and the nine titled thoughts are mainly from Mike Bradley of Bible Ministries, who I believe, has passed and was entered online by his associates.

Thank you, and may the Peace of the Lord, be with you!


Den Betts

Spirituality and the Holy Spirit 2014-47

 Spirituality and the Holy Spirit 2014-47

Spirituality and Religion are two words that are mentioned, frequently in the same context; that of going to a church (religious) and not going to church (but being spiritual). “I am Spiritual but not Religious,” is a statement by many that says to others, I DO believe in God, but I don’t go to church.  OK, I understand that, but what is really meant by both words? I have written the below, not to really explain the differences, but give a brief idea of the words.

Spirituality is a phrase that is part of today’s everyday life now. We have a Spirituality Director at my place of worship, who is trying to bring us closer to God via many ways.  One of our parishioners asked me at a meeting in 2013 when we hired him, “What exactly is a Spiritual Director?” This was a good question and I answered it, somewhat, at the time and I hope it gave that person and the rest of those in attendance some insight as to what a Spiritual Director actually is or does. Another member recently asked, “What will he do for us?” and we are finding out as he gets more involved.

Since then, I have been asking myself some questions about a number of things.

“Where are we as far as having Spirituality?”

“Does the Holy Spirit yearn to be included in our lives?”

“What can we do to be led by the Spirit of God?”

“What can I do personally for myself to be more spiritual” and the list goes on and on…..

I went to sources for information and the best source was by my bedside in the form of the Holy Bible, but more on that later.


But, before I continue, let me explain what Spirituality itself might mean:

The term spirituality lacks a definitive definition,  although social scientists have defined spirituality as the search for “the sacred,” where “the sacred” is broadly defined as that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration. The use of the term “spirituality” has changed throughout the ages.  In modern times, spirituality is often separated from religion and connotes a blend of humanistic psychology with mystical and  traditions and eastern religions aimed at personal well-being and personal development.  The notion of “spiritual experience” plays an important role in modern spirituality, but has a relatively recent origin.

I take the meaning as a simple “Something that concerns the Spirit” – The Holy Spirit!!!!

I believe we can become spiritually connected or to feel the Holy Spirit within us. Perhaps some more than others (which is normal), but overall we have a feeling for the Holy Spirit that is part of our religious beliefs and practices.

I was also asked once, if I was religious or spiritual.  I can probably say both.   Religion is a form of “re” meaning again and the Latin “ligare” meaning ligament or a connection, so it is somewhat of a re- connecting and in the sense of belief, it is reconnecting to God every day. Religion has the meaning also of “respect for what is sacred, and reverence for God, so again, my saying I am “both” religious and spiritual, is somewhat true.

Holy Spirit

How I look at the Triune God of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit may be different than what others see or feel, but it is  not important what I perceive, but more of what we all experience.

I believe the Holy Spirit DOES yearn to be included in our lives.  Not just at church services, or when we pray to God Almighty for thanks, help or just to communicate with God.  The Holy Spirit wants to be in our hearts, our Soul and minds all the time. Simple as that!  The Holy Spirit therefore, desires to be included in your everyday thoughts, words and deeds. Simple as that!  That is what I believe. The Holy Spirit used to be referred to as the “Holy Ghost” and was from the Old English for Spirit, but in reality they have identical meanings. Ghost now generally refers to an apparition of a dead person, so it is out of style and usage and Holy Spirit is mostly a 20th century reference.

The following is taken from a letter by Brother Lawrence of the Carmelite monastery who lived from 1614 to 1691. It came from his book, “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence

Letter 7

“He requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance of Him from time to time, a little adoration. Sometimes to pray for His grace. Sometimes to offer Him your sufferings. And sometimes to return Him thanks for the favors He has given you, and still gives you, in the midst of your troubles. Console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him at your meals and when you are in company. The least little remembrance will always be pleasing to Him.

You need not cry very loud. The Holy Ghost is nearer to us than we are aware. And we do not always have to be in church to be with God. We may make an oratory of our heart so we can, from time to time; retire to converse with Him in meekness, humility, and love. Everyone is capable of such familiar conversation with God, some more, some less. He knows what we can do.”

   Now I ask: How can we be led by the Holy Spirit?

First let me describe the Holy Spirit:  The Holy Spirit is seen by most Christians as one part of the Triune God, who revealed His Holy Name, YHWH, to His people of Israel, who sent His eternally begotten son Jesus to save them from their sins, and sent the Holy Spirit to sanctify and give life to His Church.  The Triune God manifests as three persons,  in one divine being called the Godhead,  the Divine Essence of God.

An important verse in the Bible (Romans 8:14) states, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”  The sons of God are led by the Holy Spirit in this life. Again, The before mentioned, “sacred” is broadly defined as that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration as part of the Spiritual awakening in our lives.

We CAN develop a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit!! Just as we pray to God and Jesus Christ at church service or daily on our own, we can and are allowed to communicate with the Holy Spirit.  Let me use the apostle Paul as a source for this thought:

  1. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the                                      Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)
  2. “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship                              of the Spirit …” (Phillippians 2:1)

The two words, communion and fellowship, again, means a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Not only can we develop a close personal relationship with both God the Father and Jesus Christ, but these two additional verses are telling us that we can also develop a close personal relationship direct with the Holy Spirit Himself. How wonderful that can be for all of us!

Not only can we develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit, but we can also have the Holy Spirit be our personal guide and teacher in this life we live.   Again, I use the Holy Bible as my source for this thought:

  • “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”  


  1. (John14:26)
  2. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13)

The great thing is this regarding having a relationship with God, which IS the basis of Spiritualtiy. There is NOTHING you have to do to have a relationship with Him and you cannot do anything to merit having one.  We will have an eternal life with God (a relationship) because Jesus died for all of us. Having faith in Jesus Christ gives us the promise of eternal life. That is a wonderful thing and something to relate to in our daily lives.

When the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit will “teach us all things” and “guide us into all truth,” this tells us that the Holy Spirit has the ministry with each one of us as being our personal Guide and Teacher in this life. And if He is going to be our personal Guide and Teacher in this life, then this means He will start to communicate to us, so He can teach us what He wants to teach us. And our part will then be to learn how He will communicate to us so we can pick up that communication when He does start to release it to us. At this point I will encourage you to read my discourse on “Communicating with the Holy Spirit”, in my next blog.

Put these two verses together with the first two verses above about having direct fellowship and direct communion with the Holy Spirit and you can tell that God is letting all of us know loud and clear that we can enter into this supernatural realm with the Holy Spirit. If God is telling us that the Holy Spirit will be guiding us and teaching us in this life, then we can comfortably enter into that realm with Him so He can then begin to do that kind of deeper work with each one of us.

I would like to continue, but enough is enough for now.  Spirituality is something we will delve into with in various ways.  I welcome his knowledge, his education and experience in this realm of being with the Holy Spirit, the Son Jesus Christ and the Father in Heaven.   It will be up to us to reach out and experience any teachings for guidance.

Thank you for your time.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Den Betts

Spiritual Discipline Practices 2014-27

Spiritual Discipline Practices  2014-27

What exactly is Spiritual Discipline in relation to Christianity? Let’s start first with the dictionary explanation of the word discipline itself:

Discipline:  An activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill or behavior in accordance with a rule or regulation.  Do you think we are basically disciplined in our lives?

The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living with rules, and into the depths of inward thinking. We will try to define these in a moment. The Spiritual Disciplines invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm of our mind.  I thought that was so cool when I read it. So that brings us to the word Spiritual.

Define Spiritual!  What do   YOU   think the word Spiritual actually means?

The dictionary states that the word spiritual is pertaining to sacred things or matters such as those being religious or to the spirit as the seat of the moral or religious nature; or belonging to the church, or just plain pertaining to the soul or spirit or God.

From here we glean what a Spiritual Discipline may be or its purpose of liberating us from the stifling slavery of self-interest and fear in living our daily lives to instead being one with God forever. These are words from the author, Richard Foster in his book “Celebration of Disciplines”. He has emphasized that Christian meditation focuses not of the emptying of the mind or self, but rather on the filling up of the mind or self with God. I will mention his book a number of times in this “Disciplines” section of my blog, because it, his book, is so filled with details about the subject.

His book is available at many book stores or on Amazon and I highly recommend getting it. Before I used excerpts from his book, in 2013, I emailed his publisher to get permission to do so for a Sunday School lesson. They do NOT want anyone to be making money on anything that is taken out of any books, so I am good on that requirement.

I believe we can look at the Spiritual Disciplines as the melding of the mind, the soul and the body toward a common goal of finding God.

Let me list some of the Disciplines that we will be discussing, as put forth by Foster and others regarding Spirituality.  There are three types we will explore: Inward, Outward and Corporate Disciplines.  Let’s start with the: 

The Inward Disciplines –

MeditationPrayer  Fasting  – Study

Why would these disciplines be called the Inward Disciplines?

They offer avenues of personal examination and change to develop stronger relationships with God. They enable us to hear His voice and obey His Word

The Outward Disciplines –    

Simplicity –   Solitude/Silence –   Submission   – Service

Why are these classified as Outward Disciplines?

They are easily seen or perhaps noticed by others that help to prepare us to make the world a better place by discovering the social implications of life, and are not meant as pious exercises for the devout.

The Corporate Disciplines –     (Corporate = Pertaining to a united group, such as persons united in one body)

Confession Worship  – GuidanceCelebration

What is corporate & how does this apply to the Disciplines?

They are shared disciplines with others to bring us nearer to one another and to God.

For Protestants, spiritual disciplines are generally regarded to include any combination of what we just listed, but could also mean the following as disciplines:   chastity,  fellowship, frugality, giving such as tithing, hospitality, humility, intimacy,  reflection, self-control, servant hood,  singingsurrender, and teaching. Perhaps even more can be added, if we read of others from Scripture.

Wikipedia states: “A spiritual discipline is the regular or full-time performance of actions and activities undertaken for the purpose of cultivating spiritual development. A common metaphor used in the spiritual traditions of the world’s great religions is that of walking a path.  Therefore, a spiritual discipline moves a person along a path towards a goal. The goal is variously referred to as salvation, liberation or union (with God). A person who walks such a path is sometimes referred to as a wayfarer or a pilgrim or what I might call being a disciple of Christ on a journey to find and be with Him.” 

Do you believe that Disciplines are challenging or demanding to do in daily life?

Disciplines should not be hard to do, but may be difficult if we allow them to be.  We do not have to be advanced in matters of theology to practice them. Anyone, from long time Christians to recent converts can practice the Spiritual Disciplines.

The biggest requirement is to involve yourself in Disciplines and to have a basic longing for God.  In Psalms 42: 1-2, “As a heart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God.”  The key here is again, longing for God.

One word of caution, however, must be given at the outset: to know the actual mechanics of doing the Disciplines does not mean that we are actually practicing the Disciplines  Using Meditation as an example, we could finally learn about how to do Biblical Meditation, but in reality, when trying to do so, we may fail to practice the Meditation in the correct way or toward the real goal of doing the meditation, namely, taking time to be with God.  I was guilty of this myself. I had allowed myself to think that I MUST meditate every day, and try to do so at a certain hour. That is not the intent of meditating, as keeping within a strict, rule oriented way of doing so. My Pastor helped me understand this and guided me toward a better thought process of doing meditation.

The Spiritual Disciplines are an inward and spiritual reality, and the inner attitude of the heart is far more crucial than the actual mechanics, for coming into the reality of the spiritual life.   The life that is pleasing to God is not a series of religious duties. There is really one goal for the Disciplines, namely, to experience a life of relationship and intimacy with God. God who is “the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1: 17).

When we feel we have a need for God, come to understand we are sinners and that we are ready to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are beginning to have a relationship with God. What do we have to do? Well, God should be included in our lives, or daily lives. It would help if we prayed to God and not just in church, if we go. We could meditate and pray, because God loves to hear from us. Hey, read the Bible and perhaps learn some things. There are great stories in it that have a message for us to learn. Many things can be done to have a relationship, but we have to try them. God is waiting!

MEDITATION Discipline 2014-26

Meditation  Discipline  2014-26

What is Meditation?

What is meditation, its meaning and goals? I have taken the liberty of using data gleaned from a Sunday School lesson I did, which drew from Richard Foster’s “Spiritual Disciplines, which I asked for permission to use, but the publisher never responded to my request.  I highly recommend his book which has detailed and very useful information.

Hopefully, I can get the message across to you for the original question. There are two basic types of meditation, the Eastern and the one I will be discussing, the Biblical/Christian Spiritual Meditation.

Eastern Meditation

You might be aware of the Eastern form with a person sitting on a mat with legs crossed, showing the bottoms of their feet, eyes closed, hands together and saying over and over, OOOOOHHummmmmmmmmm, OOOHHummmmmmmmm, etc, or  whatever mantra or chant he or she is used to saying. Detachment is the goal of Eastern religions or meditational prayers. It is the escaping from their wheel of existence, trying to control their psychological or emotional well beings. That is ok if that is what your goal is; of emptying the mind of thoughts.

Biblical or Christian meditation, however, involves becoming detached from the controlling and hindering influences of the world and instead being attached to the living God through Christ. In this way, we might, through faith and transformed values, experience the sufficiency of the Savior and reach out to a hurting world in need of the living Christ or to ourselves. It is object oriented beginning with reflective reading of the Word , followed by reflection on what was read.

For instance, with Biblical Meditation we do NOT want to empty the mind and ponder infinity by repeating a chant over and over. Once more, it is reflective thinking on biblical trut, so that God is able to speak to us through Scripture and through the thoughts that come to mind as we reflect on the Word. With Biblical Meditation, we hope to personalize the Scripture so that truth can affect how we think, change our attitudes and how we live and take action in life.  No OOOHuuuuuummmm’in in this type of meditation.    

Meditation’s Purpose

What is the basic purpose of Spiritual Meditation?    The purpose of Biblical meditation is to “Hear God more clearly.”  We can do this, in one way, through the process of meditating and many cases combining it with Prayer. Meditation can be incorporated with many of the other Spiritual Disciplines in the Inward, Outward and Corporate areas, which I  discussed the blog Spiritual Disciplines.  Also, remember, Spiritual Meditating is not like the eastern culture of meditating as we just discussed.

In the midst of an exceedingly busy ministry Jesus made a habit of withdrawing to “a lonely place apart” (Matt. 14: 13). He did this not just to be away from people, but so he could be with God, His father. What did Jesus do time after time in those deserted hills? He sought out his heavenly Father; he listened to Him, he communed with Him. And he beckons us to do the same. Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word.

I absolutely and firmly believe all of us CAN, yes CAN get to the point of hearing God speak to us and in doing so, being able to obey what He tells us. There are NO mantra chants to do, no hidden ways, mental exercises or flights into some kind of cosmic thinking to do. God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit wants our fellowship and desires to hear from us, through prayer, and then speak to us through meditation, as an example. One thing needed though for this to happen, is commitment on doing it.

To Hear from God???

There may be a fear factor involved in hearing from God.  The Israelites did not want this type of intimacy and in the time of Moses told him, “You speak to us and we will hear, but let not God speak to us, lest we die”, as written in Exodus 20:19. This is when God gave them the Ten Commandments.  There was thunder and lightning and trumpets blowing and the mountain was in smoke, so it was daunting to them.  God can whisper in your ear and does not have to shout to be heard.

The verse from Exodus shows why meditation is so threatening to us. It boldly calls us to enter into the living presence of God for ourselves. It tells us that God is speaking in the continuous present and wants to address us. Jesus and the New Testament writers clearly state that this is not just for the religious professionals— the priests— but for everyone. All who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord are the universal priesthood of God and, as such, can enter the Holy of Holies and converse with the living God.

I used to think “Why did God speak to those in the Old Testament, but doesn’t do so now, today? Did He get laryngitis or has He forsaken us as his children?”  If God is alive and active in the affairs of human beings, why can’t his voice be heard and obeyed today? That is what I used to think!!!!

God’s voice can be heard and is heard by all who will know him as present Teacher and Prophet. How do we receive the desire to hear his voice? “This desire is a gift of grace. Anyone who imagines he can simply begin meditating without praying for the desire and the grace to do so will soon give up. But the desire to meditate, and the grace to begin meditating, should be taken as an implicit promise of further graces.”  One of the amazing ways to hear God talk to you is very simple; read Scripture. By doing so, we form the biblical foundation for meditation.  Combine this with prayer and just see what you hear!!!!

I may continue this later with ideas on HOW TO meditate. For now, stop, read this and consider what I have said.  The how to, is not that hard, but I found that I HAVE TO DO certain things to make it work.

PRAYER- Discipline 2014-25

PRAYER- Discipline2014-25

When I discussed Meditation in another blog, the Discipline of Prayer is mentioned a number of times. Prayer is part of the Disciplines of communing with our Lord God.  The thing is, Prayer is a learning process. When the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11-1) they were asking Him to help them talk with God better. ? I have taken the liberty of using data gleaned from a Sunday School lesson I did, which drew from Richard Foster’s “Spiritual Disciplines, which I asked for permission to use, but the publisher never responded to my request.  I highly recommend his book which has detailed and very useful information.

Getting closer to God

Do we get “closer to God”, when we pray?  I believe so. Therefore, when we pray we are set free to question, experiment and sometimes fail in our endeavor to be closer to God in prayer, because we are learning, and always learning.  It has only been the last few years that I feel comfortable to pray aloud at a gathering, because I never did so before.  Our Lord wants to hear from us, even when we stumble in the process.

I taught an Adult Sunday School lesson on Prayer in 2010.  I went back and looked at the files and found that I spent a lot of time on that lesson.  I think I will draw from them and have a shorter but meaningful telling about Prayer as it relates to the Disciplines.

Why do we pray?

I personally do not believe that you NEED a reason to pray, but we do have reasons many times.  We pray for ourselves, for others, for events to happen or not happen, etc. Our prayers for ourselves could be for a countless number of reasons. I think of depression, loneliness, wanting something, thanking God for something, confessing our sins to God, etc.  I really think that having a better personal relationship with God, is the reason you should pray. For one thing, prayer is a form of serving God and obeying Him. Our Holy Bible is full of versus about prayer, and is an excellent source on the subject.

Does God always get back to us?

Sometimes He delays His answers according to His wisdom and for our benefit. In these situations, we are to be diligent and persistent in prayer (Matthew 7:7; Luke 18:1-8). Prayer should not be seen as our means of getting God to do our will on earth, but rather as a means of getting God’s will done on earth. God’s wisdom far exceeds our own

Gods Will For situations in which we do not know God’s will specifically, prayer is a means of discerning His will. If the Syrian woman with the demon-influenced daughter had not prayed to Christ, her daughter would not have been made whole (Mark 7:26-30). If the blind man outside Jericho had not called out to Christ, he would have remained blind (Luke 18:35-43). God has said that we often go without because we do not ask (James 4:2). In one sense, prayer is like sharing the gospel with people. We do not know who will respond to the message of the gospel until we share it. In the same way, we will never see the results of answered prayer unless we pray. It’s like saying, “You can’t win the lottery if you don’t play the lottery….”.

A Lack of Prayer Do we HAVE to pray? A lack of prayer might mean that this demonstrates a lack of faith and a lack of trust in God’s Word. We pray to demonstrate our faith in God, that He will do as He has promised in His Word and bless our lives abundantly more than we could ask or hope for (Ephesians 3:20). Prayer is our primary means of seeing God work in others’ lives. Because it is our means of “plugging into” God’s power, it is our means of defeating Satan and his army that we are powerless to overcome by ourselves. Therefore, may God find us often before His throne, for we have a high priest in heaven who can identify with all that we go through (Hebrews 4:15-16). We have His promise that the fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much (James 5:16-18). May God glorify His name in our lives as we believe in Him enough to come to Him often in prayer. It would be in the best interests to pray instead of not praying, what is there to lose?

Whom are we to pray to—– the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit?”  When we pray, who do we pray to?  All prayer should be directed to our triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that we can pray to one or all three, because all three are one. To the Father we pray with the psalmist, in (Psalm 5:2), “Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray”   To the Lord Jesus, we pray as to the Father because they are equal. Prayer to one member of the Trinity is prayer to all. Stephen, as he was being martyred, prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59).

We are also to pray in the name of Christ. Paul exhorted the Ephesian believers to always give “thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). This really is following y the ELCA guidelines in their belief in prayer.

Jesus assured His disciples that whatever they asked in His name—meaning in His will—would be granted (John 15:16; 16:23).

Similarly, we are told to pray to the Holy Spirit and in His power. The Spirit helps us to pray, even when we do not know how or what to ask for (Romans 8:26; Jude 20).

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps the best way to understand the role of the Trinity in prayer is that we pray to the Father, through (or in the name of) the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. All three are active participants in the believer’s prayer.

The above gives an idea about prayer, but there are other things we could talk about regarding prayer. I shall save the below for another discussion.  These are good questions that people ask about prayer and are, I think, important. Let me know what you think about these areas about prayer.

Who NOT to Pray To Perhaps??

Where do we pray?

How to Pray

When should we Pray

Unanswered Prayer

FASTING Discipline 2014-24

FASTING Discipline   2014-24

First off, how many of us have fasted?   The facts are, not too many people have ever fasted or do so, on a regular basis, which is somewhat normal for society today.  I do not mean DIETING fasts, but instead Spiritual Christian Fasts.  What do you think is the difference?  

What is fasting?

Not eating to lose weight could be called a fast, but that is a dieting fast, somewhat.  Or, many times, a person can fast during Lent, by restricting certain intakes of food stuff.  For medical reasons, some people may not be able to fast from food altogether. They may choose to abstain only from certain foods, like sugar or chocolate, or from something other than food. In truth, believers can fast from anything. The doing without something temporarily, such as television or soda, as a way of redirecting our focus from earthly things toward God, can also be considered a spiritual fast.

As a point of information only I fasted during Lent one year. We did so as a sacrificial Spiritual Lenten reason. We discussed when and how we would fast beforehand. Our decision was to fast on Monday’s and to do so by restricting our food intake. We drank water only except for the evening dinner time when we indulged ourselves with a cup of broth. During the day we involved ourselves in prayer and meditation. I will say, that by 4:00 PM, I was starting to feel the hunger pains in my stomach, but that went away eventually, especially after drinking fluid.

Spiritual Fasting in the Bible

There are many references in the Bible about Fasting. We will not go into detail about them, but the handout will show some of them from the New Testament. A cautionary statement though is to state that in the Scriptures there are absolute fasts that were done that involved no food OR water and for various time periods. That can be dangerous, especially if there are medications that need to be taken, or age or diseases that would preclude doing such a thing. The body can do without water for three days, but not much more than that time period.

Do we earn God’s favor by fasting?

Spiritual fasting is not a way to earn God’s favor by getting him to do something for us. Rather, the purpose is to produce a transformation in us—a clearer, more focused attention and dependence upon God.

Should we fast and proclaim this to anyone?

Fasting is never to be a public display of spirituality—it is between you and God alone. In fact, Jesus specifically instructed us in Matthew 6:16-18 to let our fasting be done privately and in humility, else we forfeit the benefits. I explain about my fasting to make a point of when I did so, and not a boasting of our actually doing so.

 Is Fasting a Commandment from God?  Sticking with the New Testament, Jesus did not say, “If you fast”, neither did He say, “You MUST fast”, but instead said, “When you fast” Matthew 6:16-18.The second crucial statement of Jesus about fasting comes in response to a question by the disciples of John the Baptist.

Perplexed over the fact that both they, John’s disciples, and the Pharisees fasted, but Jesus’ disciples did not, they asked, “Why”.  Jesus replied, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast” (Matt. 9: 15). That is perhaps the most important statement in the New Testament on whether or not Christians should fast today.

What is the Purpose of Fasting?           

Referencing Matthew 6:16-18 again whereas it states, “16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

To use good things to our own ends is always the sign of false religion. How easy it is to take something like fasting and try to use it to get God to do what we want. At times there is such stress upon the blessings and benefits of fasting that we would be tempted to believe that with a little fast we could have the world, including God, eating out of our hands.

Fasting must center on God, not on ourselves.  It MUST be God-initiated and God-ordained.  Physical benefits, success in prayer, the enduing with power, spiritual insights— these must never replace God as the center of our fasting. Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven.

What can we learn from fasting?

More than any other Discipline fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately.

In Psalms 69:10, David said, “I humbled my soul with fasting”   Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear— if they are within us, they will surface during fasting. At first we will rationalize that our anger is due to our hunger; then we will realize that we are angry because the spirit of anger is within us. We can rejoice in this knowledge because we know that healing is available through the power of Christ.

Fasting reminds us that we are sustained “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”

(Matt. 4: 4). Food does not sustain us; God sustains us. In Christ, “All things hold together” (Col. 1: 17). Therefore, in experiences of fasting we are not so much abstaining from food as we are feasting on the word of God. Fasting is feasting!

Fasting helps us keep our balance in life.   How easily we begin to allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives. How quickly we crave things we do not need until we are enslaved by them. Paul writes, “‘ All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything” (1 Cor. 6: 12). Our human cravings and desires are like rivers that tend to overflow their banks; fasting helps keep them in their proper channels.

The practice of Fasting  This is where I would go into detail on how to fast, how often, what to eat or drink, etc.  The purpose of these Spiritual Disciplines is to introduce you to the Disciplines, but not necessarily go into each one in depth. You can do so in the future if you are interested.   If you want some ideas, get and read Robert Foster’s book,”Celebration of Discipline” that I drew many of the ideas from to write this blog.

STUDY- Discipline 2014-23

STUDY-  Discipline    2014-23

The next and last Spiritual Discipline in the Inward Disciplines is that of Study. The purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines is the total transformation of the person. They aim at replacing old destructive habits of thought with new life-giving habits. Nowhere is this purpose more clearly seen than in the Discipline of study. I must remind  you again that Richard Foster wrote the book,

I think it would be easy to “gloss over” this Discipline as not being worthy as a Discipline.  The apostle Paul tells us in (Rom. 12: 2). “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

What do you think happens when you study?

Study is a way to learn and be changed. We may pray to the spirit, sing out our praises to our Lord, live as obediently as we can, be filled with revelations perhaps, but still be unchanged. Why?  Because we may never have taken up one of the ways God uses to change us:  namely study.  If we get to know the knowledge of truth we can be free as stated in John 8:32, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”.  Ignorance of the truth can hamper and confuse us in the spiritual walk of life.  This all may sound good or even confusing to a degree so let us look into just what study is.

Do you think study helps us in life?

Through study, we can move in a certain direction as a kind of experience in life.  So, with study, there is concentration, perception, repetition, and ingrained habits of thoughts that are formed. These habits of thought that are formed will conform to the order of the thing being studied. What we study, such as the Bible,  determines the kind of habits that are formed, which is why Paul urges us to focus on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and gracious.

The application of study is a process that is different than that of meditation for instance. Meditation is devotional, whereas study is analytical.  Meditation will relish a word in Scripture, for instance, and study will clarify the meaning.  They are two distinct experiences.  Study will set the framework from which meditation will function. Through study we will be changed, perhaps slowly, but changed never the less. We will learn, and through the learning be able to meditate on the words read and studied.

What different ways are there to study?

We can have different ways to study; verbal and nonverbal. The verbal way of studying would be in the reading of books and attending lectures or Sunday school lessons, which make up half the field of study.  Nature and, most important, the observation of events and actions are the primary nonverbal fields of study and one that we can learn much from.


What is the primary task of studying?

The principal task of study is the perception into the reality of a given situation, encounter, book, etc. We can go through a major crisis, for example, without any perception of the real nature of the tragic situation. But if we carefully observe and reflect upon what occurred, we can learn a great deal.  In doing so we are studying the situation.  We can study before an occurrence, and that is studying also.

What steps are there again to studying and how do they relate to Spiritual Growth?

They are:  Repetition, Concentration, Comprehension, and Reflection


This is an age old way of learning something. Going over and over again, to get it engrained in your mind. When we read the Bible, we get channeled into a specific direction.  Pastor Laura had me read the Book of James each day for a month.  That is repetition, but is only the beginning.


Upon reading the Bible over and over, learning will increase because it centers the mind and focuses the attention on what is being studied.  Our mind is centered on what we are reading, absorbing input from the written Word.  The key is not to be distracted and get off base while reading, but instead keep your mind on the subject at hand, because that leads into the next area.


Reading the Word in Scripture, will give us the “knowledge of truth” as I mentioned in John 8:32 because with comprehension the knowledge comes out. After reading James many times, it was amazing to realize that what I read before was now understandable in a new light from the reading days prior. Insight and discernment occurs and the true perception of reality of what was read, happens. After we have read over and over, concentrated on the Word, and start to comprehend, then something else develops.


We start to see the significance of what we are studying in the Bible. We start to see things from God’s perspective and in understanding the subject matter, we start to understand ourselves.  Jesus speaks often of ears that do not hear and eyes that do not see. When we ponder the meaning of what we study, we come to hear and see in a new way.

What to study?????   !

The Bible is a great start and it can be studied in many ways.  Someone won an award once in church one time for reading the Bible in its entirety over a short period of time. That in itself was amazing, but I always wondered, did he go through the steps we just outlined of the four areas beginning with repetition. I doubt it.  He got the award, but it was not meaningful.  Reading the Bible a section or book at a time is a worthwhile undertaking and if you end up reading all of it, that is great.

What are some other books that could be read that will give you meaningful insights to Christian thinking?

A few are:

The Confessions of St.  Augustine                            “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas A Kempis

Brother Lawrence’s  “The Presence of God”        Blaise Pascal’s   “The Pensees”

Martin Luther’s  “Table Talks”                                     “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

St Theresa of Avilla’s “Interior Castle”                     St John of the Cross, “Dark Night of the Soul”

The main thing is not to worry about what you have NOT read, but instead, remember that the key to the Discipline of Study is not reading many books, but experiencing what you do read.  I believe that from reading the various classics of old and those works from more modern writers, we will learn. From learning we will be able to better understand the Christian culture of belief we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.

SIMPLICITY- Disciplines 2014-22

Simplicity      – Disciplines     2014-22

How do you define Simplicity? 

The base root is the word “Simple”.  In Ecclesiastes 7:30 it states, “God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising”.  The Christian Discipline of Simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life style.  Nobody in this class can profess to have a simple inward thinking and not have an effect on how they live, which is the same way of your thinking. Just cannot happen.

When you have an inward simple reality, you are liberated outwardly. Your manner of speech is more truthful and honest. The quest for status or position in life is gone, because we don’t need those things any longer. We offer ourselves and our goods to others, to the church, for instance, and where needed by others.  We will no longer fear what others will think of us, but instead do things because we feel we must do them for the sake of those others.

What about today’s life styles and simplicity?  

I would imagine that EVERYONE craves things, at times, that we neither need nor enjoy.  We buy and buy items we do not necessarily want, but do so to, at times, impress people we know. When we purchase items that have a planned obsolescence, where that ends, psychological obsolescence takes over.  Some are ashamed to have last year’s style of clothes or a very old but reliable car, and are made to feel ashamed by owning them (especially by the manufacturers). The media tells us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality.   We must take exception to the modern psychosis that defines people by how much they can produce or what they earn. The Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity is not lost — just something that we have to recapture today.

Does the Bible teach about Simplicity?

It all depends on who you talk to about the Bible and the simple life. The Old Testament is rife with warnings about the exploitation of the poor and the accumulation of wealth.  The world we live in belongs to God and cannot be held perpetually as stated in Leviticus 25:23. The Ten Commandments have the one about covetousness or the lust “to have” which can lead to stealing and oppression, if taken to the nth degree.  Jesus taught or condemned the mammon or wealth and declared it the “rival God”, as “You cannot serve God and Mammon”, as stated in Luke 16:13. Other Scripture readings are Luke 12:15; Luke 12:33; Luke 12:16-21; Matthew 13:45-46 and Luke 6:30 as some of the other examples of the teachings of Jesus.

What should we do then regarding material things?

OK, does that mean we should become paupers and do without STUFF?  NO!!!! God wants us to have adequate material provisions in life. Forcing oneself into poverty is not right in the eyes of God and should be renounced as being contrary to God’s will. Scripture declares that the creations of God are good and to be enjoyed. And extreme asceticism is not to be condoned.

Asceticism or the severe self-discipline and abstention from all form of indulgence, usually for religious reasons and it renounces possessions whereas Simplicity puts those same things into perspective. There is no place for the “good things in life” with the ascetic, but Simplicity rejoices in this gracious provision from the hand of God.

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

What is the “Outward Expression” of Simplicity?

I said before that you cannot have an inner reality without an outward expression and to experience the liberating spirit of Simplicity WILL affect how we live.  With this thought in mind, we must discuss the specifics or this Discipline would be just theoretical.  Therefore I will suggest ten controlling principles for the outward expression of Simplicity. These are NOT laws, but instead an attempt to define the meaning of Simplicity today.

 Buy things for their usefulness rather than for their status. Would it be prudent to buy or own a home with 22 rooms whereas 6 or seven would do well for two people?  Joann and I live in a house that is too big for us, and we will be downsizing to a smaller place sometime.   Buy clothes that you need without the need to impress others.  IF you haven’t worn a certain item of clothing for over a year, donate it to Dorothy’s Porch, regardless of the original cost.

Reject those things that you are addicted to in life. This could be almost anything, such as drinks of any nature, chocolate, videos, books or as simple as money itself. Refuse to be a slave to anything but to God, as His servant.   Easier said than done, I am sure and not something we want to rush out and start or stop doing. Keep this in mind, addiction is something beyond your control, and that is where God comes into your life as the forgiving grace and healing power of God to help you with your control.

Give things away. I don’t mean the tie or scarf you got for Christmas you never wear, but that is still OK to give away. It would mean more though to give something that means much to you as a present to someone else that truly needs it. We gave a TV enclosure, TV and DVD to someone whereas I could have made some money on it selling it on Craigslist.  The feeling we had in knowing that the items were truly appreciated was overwhelming to us.  Get rid of things and De-accumulate and in the process, simplify, and simplify your life.

Fourth, refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.  New gadgets, such as the I-Pads, Smart Phones, Kindles, and other such toys are examples of having the “newest model” for the sake of having it. These new features seduce us into buying items we do not need, but only want.  We, who live in the U.S. comprise 6 percent of the world population but we consume 33 % of the world’s energy, so gadgets are an unnecessary drain on the energy resources of the world. Our children and grandchildren don’t need the cheap breakable toys made today. Look for the durable and educational ones and/or make some yourself.  Ever notice how the small kids play in the boxes that the gifts came in?

Enjoy those things that you don’t own!  How do you do that? Well, the beaches at a Lake , the  parks at a local  Park District, the libraries that abound, are some ways to do this. If you own something we feel we can control it, if we control it we will get more pleasure – these are illusions. Free things can be enjoyed without owning or controlling them.

The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof (Ps 24:1) Develop a sense of appreciation for the creations of God and His Glory. Enjoy nature, the birds, the bees, the bugs, the flowers, and the rainbow of colors of nature.  Again, the park systems of Lake and Geauga are teeming with adventures to be had, and things to enjoy.  Get closer to the earth and closer to God in the process.

Use extreme caution before incurring debt by being simple and prudent.  The advertisements to buy now and pay later, (over and over again) is something to be skeptical about today. Usury in the Bible referred to any kind of interest, and it still applies today.  Jesus denounced usury as a sign of the old life and admonished his disciples to “lend, expecting nothing in return” (Luke 6:35).  Do not be held in bondage to the schemes of those wanting you to buy from them and paying later.

Be honest in your speech.  In (Matthew 5:37) “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes” or “No”, anything more than this comes from evil”. Make integrity and honesty the biggest characteristics of your speech. It is best to reject half-truths or ways of talking that obscure and done to impress rather than to inform and illuminate.  After my accident, I found that if I told the truth in my speaking to others, I did not have to try to remember those things that were untrue and it was much easier to live that way. I remember years ago when I was in sales, I lost orders due to telling the truth about shipments being longer than the customers desires, but then I found that in the telling, the customers got to know I had integrity and could trust me when I told them something.

Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.  The best way to give an example of this is to think of those things that are things we purchase.  Do we sip our coffee and eat our bananas at the expense of exploiting Latin American peasants? In a world of limited resources, does our lust for wealth mean the poverty of others? Should we buy products that are made by forcing people into dull assembly-line jobs? Do we enjoy hierarchical relationships in the company or factory that keep others under us? Do we oppress our children or spouse because we feel certain tasks are beneath us?

Our oppression takes on the thought of racism, sexism, and nationalism. The color of the skin still affects one’s position in the company. The sex of a job applicant still affects the salary. The national origin of a person still affects the way he or she is perceived.

Lastly, shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.  Job, position, status, family, friends, and security— these and many more can all too quickly become the center of attention. It is all too easy to lose focus in the pursuit of legitimate, even good things, but we must try.   Simplicity: May God give you— and me— the courage, the wisdom, the strength always to hold the kingdom of God as the number-one priority of our lives. To do so is to live in simplicity.

It may not; no  I really think it IS NOT easy to live the simple life. You have to go out of your way to do so.  It can be done, but you have to have a commitment to do so. I suggest you try it, but start slow, make goals and work towards it. I bet you might be surprised at the results.