Keep God Out of This!

He’s given you power over some things! Use it

“May God save us” – that’s a statement I have often heard from people who have given up in the face challenges that seem insurmountable. From violent crime through bad governance to corruption and all other societal vices. In one of the largest countries in Africa, paradoxically I’ve heard this same statement in the face of some ills that very personal and not whole societal.

I am a believer, in God, His power and His grace. I also believe that with the gift of free will comes consequences for both the things we do and things we fail to do. As human beings, we cannot both want this free will without facing the consequences that come with it. With the gift of free will, God has given us power of certain things, to ask him to take responsibility for them is being spiritually lazy. Sure we need God, to understand evil, fight it on realms we are incapable of understanding but as a system, part of the battle is ours, every day, every minute we live.

It is not up to God and cannot be left to him

  • to stop us from reaping where we did not sow. God already teaches us INTEGRITY
  • to raise great children in not only strong spiritual but also moral principles. God’s own son and the Bible provides enough principles.
  • to reach out in love and service, not only to our neighbour, but to the stranger we meet on the street. God already teaches us CHARITY.
  • to behave ourselves with dignity and responsibility in private and public and by so doing be an example unto others.

“God will help <insert country here>” ( e.g God will help Nigeria, Cameroon) is a phrase that makes me cringe when it is the response to societal ills that man is fully responsible for. Ok, what really would we want God to do if he showed up? raise responsible children? elect good leaders and hold them accountable? change our culture from the ostentatious money-worshiping fest it is to one that is values-based? make us conscientious at work? hold out religious leaders accountable?

And while we are at it, maybe He can throw in genies to put the food in our mouths, clean us up when we go to toilet and say good morning to our neighbours. The things that make for a good society are not always up to God, they are often up to man. For as important as social justice is, so are clean streets, concientious workers, caring neighbours and principled children. In fact when we have the later list of qualities, social justice is one of the fruits we will get. And those things are not up to God – they are up to human beings.

When humans take up that responsibility of doing the things (often seemingly small and inconsequential) that are in their power, the things that promote strong families, caring societies and great countries, those acts are themselves acts of worship that inspire God to do his bit – protect our families, societies and nations from vices that humans cannot by themselves comprehend.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” – said Gandhi, because that change you are being is the prayer that makes God to shower the world with more abundant blessings.

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Birthday Wish: Begin and End Everyday on my Knees in Gratitude

to start and end everyday like this … in Gratitude

To begin and end every day on my knees

In gratitude for all that has been, is and will be

For the gift of friendship and family

In times of sorrow and in times of joy

In times of plenty and times of need

In times of pleasure and in times of pain

For the glory of God’s name,

For the enligntenment of the earth and the common good of man

Guide me ask neither for riches nor fame for myself

But peace for my enemies and friends

But a spirit of service towards my neighbour

That I may walk in humility and courage and love

On the straight path of truth, dignity and hard work

That’s what I ask of you today lord

To remind me, and help me see in every moment and everyone

Even when it is hidden by the thorns of life’s circumstances

That, “that which causes the rose to bloom, is also within me and them

Amen/So-Say-We-All

Today, It’s YOUR TURN to Keep the Wheel Spinning

Rudder by Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One day (perhaps even today), a situation will present itself to you for which you can do something to help but which you might consider insignificant. But most importantly, there will be logical reasons not to. Am going to ask you today … forget about the reasons, logic and just do it.

When I left my small village in Cameroon almost 20 years ago to pursue post-primary education, I was exposed to a world that had hitherto been non-existent to me – I saw a beggar for the first time – someone who would come up to you and beg for money (usually). My worldview was rudely shattered! Until the age of about 17 or 16, I had never seen someone who begged (for money, for food) and I just didn’t know how to relate to it. This rude shock only increased in intensity the further I travelled from home. In the day, I usually ignored any able bodied beggar with the logic ‘they are just lazy’ or trying to take advantage. Now that am older, have seen a lot and now wiser, I know it’s not always that simple.

Fast forward to 2011 in Paris-France and for the first time in my life, I saw a grown able-bodied man sleeping on the streets in near-zero temperatures. Not 30 minutes later, I met what looked like an entire family in the same situation, and begging. As this has happened more to me in different countries and cities, I have tried to ignore the pleas for help or alms with thoughts like …”this is unsustainable, how can my little alm help this person? Even if I could give them a €100, it wont be enough to get them on off the streets and keep them fed”. I am and always have been a believer in sustainable solutions and in Systems Thinking and I know full well how aid, even personal aid can be a bad i.e. have unintended and negative contrary consequences. But I am also be very empathic and can imagine myself in other people’s shoes, so those two tendencies are always conflicting.

About the middle of this year in the hot golden sunlight of the Arabian desert, I had some clarity about this – all the reasons (yes they are shallow and egocentric) we give for not helping now, for ignoring usually serve only to assuage our guilt, because deep down our spirits, speaking through our consciences long to reach out to another human being in need at that moment. Persisting in such a mentality only makes us meaner women and men, it kills the bonds that exist between us and that apparently unfortunate person, it kills that part of our spirit that we all share as human beings. And should we let that thinking persist all of the time, we’ll miss an opportunity to SERVE something greater than our own needs at that moment and thus remain at lower levels of self actualization.

Here’s a different way to look at the situation.

  1. Despite what our ego might want us to believe, that person’s existence does not depend upon us. In the grand scheme of things, they were alive before we came around and they will be alive long after we have gone. There are rare exceptions when our interventions are matters of life and death. In those situations, our responses or actions are quite clear (I think, having never been in such a position myself).
  2. In that moment, fate is handing us a responsibility – just keep the wheel turning. Don’t worry who will turn it tomorrow (if we have the heart of a saint, we will find a way to help not just today but tomorrow too). Just recognize that the wheel is still turning today because someone turned it yesterday. So the only question is: “Will we make sure the wheel is still turning tomorrow?”
  3. This is also an opportunity, to rise above the petty needs of our egos. For those of us who are men/women of faith, this is our chance to be of service to the glory of God.

So unless we can outright sense that someone wants to take advantage, if we can, we must GIVE. Give, with gratitude in our heart and with a smile on our face. And as we give, we must be sure to look them in the eye, for that is the message that speaks far more than anything else we are doing, and says “Inspite of your circumstances, I respect you as another human being”. If we pull this off well even once in a while, we at that moment are being “Instruments of Peace” and the full power of God and all the saints stands behind us.

Ultimately … even to GOD …it comes down to EXECUTION

I woke up this morning to get my random inspiration from the Bible. And as I opened it, my eyes fell upon these words from Romans 2: 5 – 15 [emphasis mine]

” … But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God;
who will pay back to everyone according to their works:

to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruptibility, eternal life;
but to those who are self-seeking, and don’t obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, will be wrath and indignation,
oppression and anguish, on every soul of man who works evil, on the Jew first, and also on the Greek.
But glory and honor and peace to every man who works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
……

For it isn’t the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified
(for when Gentiles who don’t have the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves,
in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying with them, and their thoughts among themselves accusing or else excusing them)

While the path to excellence and perfection [any way you choose to define it] begins with and is shaped by thoughts, wisdom and belief/knowing, the manifestation of excellence and perfection ultimately lies in the things we DO … ie our behaviour. So many of us Christians seem to want to emphasize faith to the detriment of works but I think this passage tells us that is not the case. I haven’t found the passage in the Bible that says God will pay us back according to our faith. Yes … faith [and knowledge and theory etc] is important, in fact indispensable but the evidence of our faith lies in the works that we do [by their fruits they shall be known].

May God grant us the strength to continually put our faith/knowledge/principles into action in ways that elevate our spirit and conscience over our egos and selves.

A Pure Heart, A Clear Conscience, A Genuine Faith, A Humble Mind

A pure heart spews forth LOVE for mankind, for nature and PASSION within me – Emotional Intelligence at its peak.

A clear conscience is the ultimate compass for life’s journey – the guide for right and wrong, dead set and locked on TRUE NORTH PRINCIPLES. A clear conscience is the only guide that can drive a pure heart, a genuine faith and a humble mind …. Spiritual Intelligence at its peak.

A genuine faith comes from meditating under the guidance of a clear conscience. Faith being “…. the substance of things hope for, and evidence of things unseen” is the ultimate weapon for conquering uncertainty, chaos and the key to living hapily and fulfilled in the moment.

A humble mind is always aware of how little it knows and lingers for understanding, not just knowledge. Understanding reveals our unique purpose and a vision of life as it should be – spontaneous creativity, effortless virtue and holistic problem-solving in elegantly simple ways – now that is IQ at its peak

 

 

Do You Believe in God? or Do You Believe in What Man Says about God?

The typical answer goes like … ¨going by the fruits of Christianity, I don´t¨, or why are there many scriptures, some which conflict with each other? Why are there so many different religions and even within the same religions, many different denominations which contradict each other?

Fortunately for me, I have never doubted the existence of God, but I have used many of the arguments above when I ran into those moments of doubt about God´s purpose for His creation. I have been plagued by questions like:

  1. Why does God allow suffering, especially of the innocent?

  2. Did God really create one race to be subject to another? – why is the history of one race written in perpetual slavery?

  3. Why would God choose one race as His favorite or chosen race?

  4. If the Bible is to be believe hook, line and sinker, How can a loving God condemn a new-born baby who dies at birth to hell? [a newborn doesn´t even know enough to ask for salvation without which every human is doomed]

  5. Is an eternity of suffering in hell a just punishment for even a lifetime of sin? – how do u reconcile that with a loving God?

The questions go on and on – most with some answers that I can wrap my mid around and others whose answers will simply have to come from God himself.

I recently read ¨Angels and Demons¨, the novel by Dan Brown of the ¨Da Vinci Code¨ fame, and I got this profound insight from a discussion between two characters – one a God believing marine physicist(Vittoria) and the other an agnostic art historian(Robert Langdorn). Here is a transcript of the dialog

¨Vittoria was watching him. “Do you believe in God, Mr. Langdon?” The question startled him…..Do I believe in God? He had hoped for a lighter topic of conversation to pass the trip.

A spiritual conundrum, Langdon thought. That’s what my friends call me. Although he studied religion for years, Langdon was not a religious man. He respected the power of faith, the benevolence of churches, the strength religion gave so many people . . . and yet, for him, the intellectual suspension of disbelief that was imperative if one were truly going to “believe” had always proved too big an obstacle for his academic mind. “I want to believe,” he heard himself say.

Vittoria’s reply carried no judgment or challenge. “So why don’t you?

He chuckled. “Well, it’s not that easy. Having faith requires leaps of faith, cerebral acceptance of miracles, immaculate conceptions and divine interventions. And then there are the codes of conduct. The Bible, the Koran, Buddhist scripture . . . they all carry similar requirements-and similar penalties. They claim that if I don’t live by a specific code I will go to hell. I can’t imagine a God who would

rule that way.” ……

Mr. Langdon, I did not ask if you believe what man says about God. I asked if you believed in God. There is a difference. Holy scripture is stories . . . legends and history of man’s quest to understand his own need for meaning. I am not asking you to pass judgment on literature. I am asking if you believe in God. When you lie out under the stars, do you sense the divine? Do you feel in your gut that you are staring up at the work of God’s hand?

The gems are in those last lines I emphasized. I think that is the most profound insight I have come across as to how we essentially dodge the heart of the matter and focus on excuses to disbelief and faithlessness.

As an engineer, it is not just when I look up at the vast expanse of space, but also when I get assaulted physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually by the glory of a flower in bloom, by the miracle of physical growth of a plant or animal, by the totally illogical selflessness of great humans inspite of their suffering and misery. But also, when I contemplate the impracticality of something as simple (compared to a human) as a computer evolving on its own from grains of sand … my mind only comes to one conclusion – I AM NOT HERE BY SOME ACCIDENT. And I think everyone of us deep down feel that, which is why every human being no matter how mediocre, evil or intelligence at some point is afraid of the end (death) and is concerned with leaving a legacy (why do u suppose the concept of Spiritual Intelligence is becoming trendy in the management consulting and business world?). Abraham Maslow got it right when he put Self Actualization at the very top his hierarchy of needs.

For me, there is nothing that is within the pages of the Bible, Koran or Torah that is a greater testament to the existence of God that what I can can see, hear, smell and feel – in order words, the daily miracle that is me, you, how we are even alive till now and the universe. Whether that God is caring and loving …..I´ll let General Romeo Dallais (the Canadian General that led UN troops in Rwanda during the genocide) to answer that ¨Now I know there is God, because I have seen the devil¨

The Place of God in the Search for Excellence & Perfection

Saturday, 20 May 2006 – 08:09am

I woke up this morning without any intention to compose a post for the blog. I launched my Bible (e-Sword) and read my morning devotion and this quote from Hoekstra’s daily devotion caught my attention:

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, which the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Let me digress a little and set the whole premise upon which the title of my blog is based: Excellence of the type I dream of can only be experienced by a person that pursues self mastery. Self mastery is to me the key to unlocking all the potential (or as much of it as we humanly can) that is buried within us and stifled through years upon years of social conditioning and compliance. I will explore in depth the issue of what Self Mastery means to me in a latter blog but suffice it to say for now that without it, we forever are computers running programmes written by others.

So the treasure mentioned in the above verse to me is that quality of sublime excellence and effortless perfection and the earthen vessels refer to us. I believe that I was created by a Supreme Being (no I didn’t evolve from some lower life-form) and I also believe in the fact that as a created being, excellence & effortless perfection can only come when I am living the purpose for which I was made. Now, the purpose of a creation can only be found in one place – the mind of its maker – in my case God. So to live a life of excellence and effortless perfection, I must be living according to the purpose for which I was made and that purpose is something I must find. I don’t believe in the generic purpose of ‘I am here to worship God’ – If God wanted people just to worship Him, he would have created more angels. I believe that as God formed me uniquely from every other person, He had some specific mission in mind for me. Our world can be perfect if everyone fulfils his own purpose for being here – in doing so and letting the Wonder of God’s creation shine – we will be worshiping him in truth, with out whole being, with our lives. It is in the process of self mastery that we get to know and pursue that unique purpose for which we were created and unless God were to choose you and reveal it to you in a vision one night while you are sleeping, it takes a long process with many false turns. Once you find that purpose – the journey of self mastery continues – now on the path that has been revealed to you. Self mastery is to me a journey to the ‘inside’ of us and I believe that is where God is to be found, until we find God in our hearts/spirits, we won’t be able to see him in the next person, in the blades of grass, in the river or the situation that begs for our intervention.