Goodness & Light

 

The house on a hill

The one with some land

Just can’t be true

In life without an ampersand.

It’s more like the fermata

In a musical score

Or the final bar line

Where dreams are no more.

You must look around

To the good in your midst

And find the blessings right there

Embrace them with a kiss.

First it’s my beloved

My treasure beyond compare

Next it’s my safe dwelling

The gardens, the love all in there.

Deeper still is my eternal love

The One Who carries me through

The hell of this Earth

Nothing compares to You.

Your light fills my life

No matter how it feels

With hope beyond compare

A shining city on a hill.

What more could I want

When in forever all will be well

Sing alms to my Lord now

This is a story for now, all to tell.

Goodness and light

Lightness and the good

Oh come Lord, Jesus soon

I need you to soften my brood.

Push my focus out to His love

And all comes back and it is right

His Word shines through darkness

As in the day I shall walk in the night.

 

 

 

As you consider Holy Yoga: Part 1

Holy Yoga, pose, woman, mat, Christian, blog, evaluate, discernment

As an occupational therapist trained in therapeutic exercise and as someone who taught aerobic exercise in clinical settings years ago, I have always watched the trending in the health and fitness industry.  I recently explored various fitness certification opportunities as part of my continuing education requirements as an OT, including those oriented toward low impact dance and yoga.  ROM Dance  was part of my repertoire years ago when working in mental health settings.  Match these interests with keeping a close eye on the alternative health industry that came on the heels of the New Age movement of the 1990s.  Early on I decided to match all of these observations against the available clinical research and especially the truth of Biblical scripture as guiding lights.

So is there a back-story?  Yes, there’s more!  I am seeking a gentle, supportive movement  practice, ideally consistent with my Christian faith, to aid in my recovery from serious illness.  The trauma of this serious illness has left me with several medical complications, deconditioning, weakness, physical limitations, and an altered body awareness that I believe can get better.  I had been exploring and pursuing some possibilities in the world of dance, exercise, massage, and traditional occupational and physical therapies when along came Holy Yoga:  a “community of believers on mission to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth through the modality of yoga.”

In a few blog posts, I will explore Holy Yoga and come to a personal decision about whether or not I will pursue it at this time.  I started my research at the Holy Yoga website then jumped right into some challenging viewpoints but not from the Christian or even medical communities.  Instead I listened to a lengthy YouTube video of Hindu philosopher, Rajiv Malhotra’s, interview of Holy Yoga Founder Brook Boon.  Talk about what the political world calls “opposition research!”  Below is the feedback I posted after viewing the interview.  My next steps will be to research the response of the Christian community and probably attend a class locally.

Here’s Part 1.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

Nice job Brooke Boon!  I might clarify to Mr. Malhotra that Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, the Father is God:  the God of the Bible and NOT a manifestation of God.  Each person of the Trinity is one God, 3 persons.  Liken this to the fact that I am one human being but a wife, sister, and daughter or 3 person-alities.  Not an exact analogy but it can help understand that the one true God is a clear, Biblical distinction from the plethora of Hindu gods that are dead, powerless manifestations of their “god.”  But more on that theology is a discussion for another time.

Further, I really wish Mr. Malhotra would have had the decency to give Ms. Boon his interview questions beforehand, especially if he intended to debate the nuances of Hinduism and Islam in contrast to Christianity.  He said the interview was to be a “dialogue” however his theological questioning and word choices indicated otherwise.  His agenda to discredit Holy Yoga was polite yet clear.  For example, he said at the end of the video that Hindus must “be aware” and essentially wake up to what Christians were doing with Holy Yoga; he also claimed that Holy Yoga’s purpose was to evangelize.  Seems like evangelism may come with the Foundation’s outreach to victims of sex trafficking but wasn’t this an interview about the story, benefits and beliefs of Holy Yoga classes not the Foundation?  Might want to differentiate the two sir.

It was important for me as a born-again believer in Jesus Christ who is exploring Holy Yoga, to view this interview.  I saw clearly how someone who is not a Christian cannot fully understand the tenants of the Christian faith from, for example, literal translations of scripture.  These literal interpretations weaken Mr. Malhotra’s subtle challenges, arguments, and warnings about Holy Yoga.  Specifically, his references to “the law” were not about Roman law as he claimed but God’s law given to Moses (as documented in the God-inspired Old Testament) to help guide the nation of Israel.  The Mosaic law helped define right and wrong to a lost people, lost society, and provide guidance as to how to live.  It also instructed them on how to relate to God and atone for sins or wrongdoing.  This law was later replaced with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and New Testament teachings from Christ and His disciples.  Persons of various “religious affiliations” or “denominations” outside of Christianity seem to like to focus on “the law” concept instead of Christ’s concept of grace because they are used to the structure and constraints of rituals . . . as if it is the rituals themselves that make them somehow right or wrong:  better people or worse yet, right before their definition of God.  And their definition does not match that of the single God of the whole Bible.  Christians who are born-again believers are free to express themselves with various traditions, cultural garb, etc. (and even try on the dressings of others) but never look to them for salvation.  Cultural traditions/trappings have no inherent power.  Only faith in Jesus Christ alone can save:  bring us eternally into a right relationship with The One True God and eternal life.  It’s simple really:

John 3:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Of course we want to share our faith with others as our joy and calling as believers in Jesus Christ.  (Matthew 28:19-20).    Looks like a lot of fun to me, to find an established method of breathing an exercise while praising God!  Wish they didn’t use the Hindu words though, as it will be confusing to many who think that Holy Yoga is completely Bible-based.  There are gray areas for sure.  Holy Yoga borrows many traditions of Hinduism.  I hope that the classes clarify this for participants.  But is that enough to avoid it?  Or not find a way to enjoy its benefits?  Perhaps the earthly “gurus” of Hindu yoga could view the adaptation of the breathing and exercises of their yoga traditions as more of a compliment than a threat.  Such is the nature of humanity to not want their invention changed.  I am sure that the major drug companies don’t like competitors making generic copies of their drugs either!  But hey, children often imitate the characteristics of their parents and hopefully a lot of times this is a good thingy!  Imitation can be an expression of flattery, friendship, even love.

Because of the prevailing pull of the world on Jesus’ own disciples and their need to overcome it, Christ petitioned for divine intercession to keep his disciples “not of the world” by being sanctified through the word of God, which is truth (see John 17:16–17 below*).  Believers must guard our hearts in all pursuits with the truth of Scripture, spiritual armor (Ephesians 6), prayer, heeding the conviction/discernment of the Holy Spirit.  Mr. Malhotra quoted the apostle Paul extensively in his post-interview analysis.  Perhaps the apostle Paul just wanted to be friendly as he adopted some behaviors and garb of the people groups he was trying to reach out to with the hope found in Jesus Christ?  Surely we can understand this today.  Don’t we bring a gift a friend would like to his or her birthday party even if it is not our own favorite hobby, taste, brand, or preference?  Or let a co-worker listen to a CD of our music in hopes he or she will enjoy it and share it with others?  Let’s be clear, however, that the  lovely cultural trappings or activities that make life sweet are never equal to the incredible gift of salvation that comes from belief in Jesus Christ.

Please look beyond the rituals, the cultural trappings, the methods of exercise and breathing, the physical stuff of this world as you evaluate the practice of Holy Yoga.  Each believer in Jesus Christ must decide for him or herself, how to apply the real substance of the Bible (and of life for the believer) is the Word and the truth it professes to our daily lives.  Explore Holy Yoga with knowledgeable believers.  Pray about it.  Examine the world view of your particular instructor too.  And if everything checks out o.k., enjoy a really cool exercise/meditation class in the meantime.

JJ

*John 17:16-17 New International Version (NIV)

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

And there he was

Dr. David Jeremiah, life beyond amazing, tour, Fort Wayne, coliseum, event, Christian, Blackhawk Church, believer, inspiration

My husband, Steve, and I recently attended Dr. David Jeremiah’s A Life Beyond Amazing event in our town.  I enjoyed Dr. Jeremiah’s presentations:  first to get acquainted with his family life then his message on enduring life’s challenges as unto the Lord.  However I must say that the fundraising prayer by one of his staff was tacky!  The music was loud, motivating, and moving.  Overall I must say that it felt good to be worshiping and learning in the company of fellow believers in Jesus Christ again.

I really wanted to meet Dr. Jeremiah after the event.  No problemmo as just one of about 10,000 people in attendance, right?  Very carefully we made our way to show center from the nosebleed section of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.  My balance was a bit off from the sensory overload from many directions as I still battle Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.  Nonetheless, I was a woman on a mission and soon found ourselves in front of the stage talking to the gifted musicians still lingering around.  I complimented Dr. Jeremiah’s granddaughter who sang in the worship team and asked where I might find her grandfather?  “He had to leave for a fundraising dinner,” was all she said.  I was disappointed but understood.  Fort Wayne, Indiana was the starting place for Dr. Jeremiah’s ministry and many members of the church he had founded here were in attendance; surely there were special activities going on to which Steve and I were not invited!

We tried to find some restrooms that were not swamped by the crowds still leaving the arena.  Having been there for shows many times before, when we headed down an open hallway where some smaller meeting rooms were located.  We encountered the vocalists again and saw a meeting room bustling with people just before we found our destination.  The hallways were virtually empty except for a few late-comers headed to what looked like a reception.  Then just before I turned to go into the lady’s room, I saw him!  Dr. Jeremiah was walking with his wife headed for that same room and it was becoming clear that we had just passed the room where his post-event activities were to take place.

This was my moment and I stepped up to it.  I walked up to Dr. David Jeremiah with my arm outstretched to shake his hand.  He accepted it and looked into my eyes briefly as I said what I had rehearsed in my mind ever since I had expressed a desire to go to the event days beforehand.  It went something like this:

Hi.  My name is Julie ____.  Several years ago you gave a message that included the teaching that God’s man in the middle of God’s will, will not perish until the Lord God ordains it.  I wanted to tell you how much that message has meant to me as I have battled a serious illness with seizures every day for the past 5 years.  Thank you.  Keep doing what you are doing!

His spoke words that followed mine as I finished the sentence from his audio tape, as if he had just given the message yesterday and not over 10 years ago!  He thanked me and quickly continued to his destination with his wife.  I continued to my own destination with a sense of wonder and amazement.  That moment was ordained by God for sure, just for me, just for him.

My spirit was calm and full as I thought about all that had transpired over the past 2 1/2 hours.  Steve and I drove home lightly chatting along the way, mostly quietly in our own thoughts.  I would be very sick with convulsive episodes within the hour of returning home and showering.  My senses were completely overloaded from the loud music, close proximity to other people, and the effects of some new treatment ramping up.  For the first time I did not feel traumatized by the serious illness that I have been selected to endure.  My own words provided the comfort I needed to get through the darkness of the night.

God’s woman, in the middle of God’s will, will not perish until the Lord God ordains it.  He has a plan and purpose for our lives even in the midst of suffering.  And should I finish well, the tasks before me no matter how difficult, there may be reward someday but first there certainly will be a closeness to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that transcends my understanding.  I want that.  And touch points in life like these will help me to craft my own life beyond amazing.

I’m up for that.

JJ

 

The Long and Winding Road

Paul McCartney wrote the famous ballad entitled The Long and Winding Road when inspired by the farmlands around his Scottish home.  He wrote it during a time of tension between band members of the Beatles and then it was published in 1970, just after the break up of the band.  I remember being very upset that they were no longer together after changing the popular music scene forever.

This is a sad song.  Tonight I understand the many sentiments expressed within the lyrics that go with this sweet melody:  melancholy to a sense of unmet longing:

When the road goes on too long before you reach your destination or you never really reach the destination you set out to find . . .

Where the twists and turns push you beyond the roadways onto the rough gravel, shaking you up quite a bit . . .

Who comes along with you sometimes wishes they were not there at all then comes around to being alright in your company after all the weary miles together . . .

What you find dashes the dreams you once had, leaving you with emptiness before the Throne of Grace where all roads eventually will arrive anyways . . .

And you shed deeper tears than you ever knew before in your pain and anguish . . .

Such is the song in my broken heart tonight.  All I can say to the God above or beyond is, “I need you now more than ever.  Please lead me back to your door . . . let me know the way.” JJ

What is most important

What is most important?

This is a question that marks my days no matter what my state of mind or health.  Every day for as long as I can remember, I got up and set goals for my waking hours.  Even if I have to modify them over and over again before the day is done, I have a mental list of what I hope to do.  It’s just how I am wired.  Some things get written down and some do not.  Before long I meet with the Lord and we go over things.  Usually some changes follow!

Proverbs 16:9 New International Version (NIV)

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

If I’m not sure what to do (when overwhelmed or facing a barrier of some sort) then I stop and ask the Lord about it.  He knows my situation in addition to the desires of my heart and usually answers in a way that draws me closer to Him.  Sometimes I am challenged in obeying His leading.  That is always a mistake.  Things always go better if I follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, usually to read my Bible or listen to Bible teaching.  The day that follows always goes better that way.

When we are battling an illness or caring for a loved one our personal resources are limited.  Additionally, we may never know when that reservoir of energy or cognitive capacity will run out so we must make our best guess and proceed accordingly.  Will new demands change everything?  It is really hard to be flexible when our hopes are dashed over and over again, less gets done, and we become overwhelmed. So we strive to keep our spirits high and go with the flow, right?  “Let go, let God” as the 12-Steppers teach? There is always tomorrow, right?

Plans changing repeatedly over the course of the day or night has dominated my past 5 years so much that I practically numb out when it happens again.  I am not sure if this is a good idea or not?  What follows for me is pursuing smaller and smaller tasks after answering the question:  what is most important?  Often what has happened next fits the category more of survival than enjoyable:  get that rescue remedy from the frig . . . I will help you walk to the kitchen . . . trust me and push yourself up to get your legs working again.  Don’t worry, you won’t fall.  I tell you, this principle of setting priorities gets REAL really fast when in a time of crisis!

That may be an extreme example for you, Gentle Reader, so I will just say this a different way.  We both will be o.k. if we set our plans before the throne of grace and let the Lord guide is in all things big and small.  He cares for the details of our lives.  As He orders our steps He also gives us the power to take those steps too.  What is most important always gets done this side of heaven.  We didn’t die because the bathrooms didn’t get cleaned or we had to eat canned meat for dinner!  Dwelling in the presence of my Savior is the best food, fitting for my soul anyways.  And that dwelling happens best when completely in the arms of our Heavenly Father who loves us so!

As my brother, Mike, has often said:  just keep moving forward.  Yup.  When I can I do.  And sometimes that means staying right where I am for a while.  Rest is important too ya know . . .  JJ

scripture, Bible, Christian, to do list, list, priorities, important, Proverbs 19:9