The Institute For Living

Now is the Moment

by on Mar.04, 2011, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

When we’re experiencing trials and tribulations we always pray that the suffering will end and “that moment” will come when God will show us favor.

Walking in victory requires that we redefine our perspective. We must learn to value the affliction as much as we would value what we would perceive as the deliverance. Circumstances really are “value neutral.”

For instance, rain is neither bad nor good. The city dweller may call it bad, while the farmer calls it good. In fact, it just “is.” Furthermore, the city dweller will suffer if the farmer does not get rain for his crops.

Learning to embrace suffering as joy is not easy, but it is essential for the victorious life. The faith walk is based upon the knowing that stepping off into the unknown leads to new knowledge — preparing for more robust living (or abundant living).

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Poor People

by on Feb.28, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

“The Poor you will always have with you” is a well known scripture. It sets the core value for many religious, economic and political conversations. But who are the “poor”?

Are they the ones who don’t have big bank accounts, or the ones who stay awake at night trying to figure out how to maintain the big accounts?

Are the poor those who go along to get along, or the ones who know that they know that they know that somehow…through it all…?

Are the poor those who know the Way Maker or those who become the Gate Keepers?

Is poverty a state of mind or a financial statement presentation?

Even profitable entrepreneurs became so because of their ability to hear the voice of purpose rather than the noise of the naysayers surrounding them.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God.”

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

From Corruption to Clarity

by on Feb.23, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

It is interesting that the dynamics of human interactions are the same whether they are observed at the individual, group or societal levels. Obviously, as more individuals are involved, the collection of individual energies determine the outcome, but the system dynamics remain the same. The system ultimately demands clarity.

Initially, corruption (or confusion) can be — and will be — hidden. Sometimes sophisticated schemes may be used to make it appear that everything is successful for a while. Eventually, though, chaos begins to pierce the veil of serenity.

As chaos emerges, truths are uncovered on both sides. As painful as they may be, they can actually be tremendous assets in the healing process. What best determines the outcome is how well both sides deal with the chaos.

There are both assets and liabilities embedded in the experience. Neither side can fully determine the outcome, because the true character of each side is revealed during the period of chaos.

And the period of chaos has no time boundaries: sometimes it is brief; other times it is prolonged. There is no inherent value in either case. The value lies in the final outcome.

There are a myriad of possible outcomes; including a possible transfer of power. Generally, though, the parties will either divorce or rebuild. The amount of destruction that has and will occur must be considered as a systems cost.

The target outcome is clarity. The revelations from the stage of chaos serve as teachers for the future. Either one learns or repeats the course.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

The Archer List

by on Feb.14, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary

This is a list of companies or organizations that appear to bring the vision to reality. The Core Values articulated on this site are the New Normal, and represent a bold departure from business as usual. Those that are listed here may not be perfect exemplars, but they are aimed in the right direction, and we applaud their efforts.

The Dylan Ratigan Show, MSNBC

Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , more...

Living on the Other Side of Fear

by on Feb.09, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

Wouldn’t it be nice to live without fear in our lives? Most of us live with fear from our personal lives to our cultural and global experiences.

At the personal level, we have the threats of sickness, financial hardship, interpersonal conflict and outside disruption — just to name a few. As we move to the larger group levels, political, economic, ethnic and other factors set the basis for our fears.

In all these cases, the core energy of fear is juxtaposed against the energy of love. Although the genesis of our lives is love, we lose our way and give power to fear so early in our journeys. Why is that? Why do we so readily abandon the power of love for the seduction of fear? It must be compelling in its alluring promises, or we wouldn’t be captivated by its charm.

People are drawn into abusive relationships because at some point there are charming qualities that promise to satisfy. And so it is with all the wares of fear.

But there is hope!

Psalm 111:10 and Job 28:28 teach us that the only appropriate fear is for the ultimate source of all sources. Connection to source is resource.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Love Says No

by on Feb.06, 2011, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

One of the most compelling energy forces in our lives is love. We want to give it and receive it more than anything else. For most of us this is true at the most personal level and at group levels. All of our religious or spiritual traditions have some basis in love. “God is love” and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself ” are cornerstones in the Christian faith. Certainly, no church or spiritual group would expect to build a following by proclaiming that their central energy provided no validation or support for them in their deepest places of being.

The sense that when we are at our most vulnerable state, we are enraptured by an energy called love is what gives us ultimate hope. It defines the bookends between despair and assurance. This warm blanket with which we can wrap ourselves even in our darkest nights is vital for our survival. But is that the only quality of love?

I shall never forget the night when one of my sons sat on the bedside and asked if he could wander off into the hillside the next day alone. I knew that he was a good child who had nothing but the best of intentions. (I had taken him with me to a job-related conference at a state resort center.) The day before I had told him to go with a companion so that if any accident occurred one of them could come back and alert us. He wanted to go alone because he and the other fellow had divergent agendas.

I had to say no.

As much as I knew he would be angry, I had to say no. I had to say no, because I knew things he didn’t know. I had to say no, because I loved him too much to allow bad things to happen to him. I had to say no because if some tragedy were to happen to him, I would be absolutely heartbroken, because I love him.

So often, children do not see the big picture. They only want what they want; went they want it; and they want it now! Sometimes they will get angry when love says no. They may even run away in disgust.

When children are little babies we show our love with milk and diapers, but as they grow older, those symbols give way to curfews and learners permits. Our love is constant, but as the child matures — and begins to realize his/her dreams — along come new opportunities with boundaries and discipline.

And so it is with all of us. Revelation 3:19 says those who I love I rebuke and chasten. The great invisible hand of the universe must steer the interactions of billions of people all over the world. Imagine what it would be like without some loving intervention to bring order to the chaos of our myopic selfishness. It was once said, “Your freedom to swing your hand stops at the tip of my nose.”

We live in limited time and space. It is inevitable that in pursuit of my selfish goals I will infringe upon the freedom of someone else. Sometimes I will do it intentionally, other times I will do it unintentionally. In either case, the damage remains. I have often said, “a girl is just as dead whether I intended to run over her or not.” We are so limited by the breadth, depth, and other dimensions of knowledge — beyond our imagination — that we must rely on a source outside ourselves for love’s guidance.

So often, in seeking guidance, we pray. Our prayer, though, is guided by our own desires. Matthew 6:10 says, “Thy will be done…”, but rather than coming into conformity with the sovereignty of the creator, we attempt to make him conform. How arrogant: to try to make the creator of all that is, a prop in our off-Broadway reality play — and call it prayer.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

The Story of Numbers

by on Feb.04, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

We all think of numbers as the basis of truth. Often, in arguments about big issues one side will say, “Well, show me the numbers.” In fact, one of the biggest splits in public policy are those areas that are supported by numbers vs. those areas that are only buttressed by feelings.

The “soft” sciences — the social sciences — and religion are often cast aside because they cannot be supported with rigor or mathematical precision. We all know that 2+2=4. It always does and always will. There is no room for judgment, feelings or opinion. It’s just the facts, thank you very much!

In fact, corporations and large institutions have moved toward the appearance of great fairness and equity by proclaiming “data-driven decision making” as their mantra.  Of course, there’s an old joke that says, “my mind’s made up; don’t confuse me with the facts.” Perhaps that joke betrays the story behind the story.

There’s another old saying, “Statistics don’t lie, but men lie with statistics.” In fact, statistics is all about storytelling. It is grounded in the algorithm: “Tell me what I want to hear; not what I need to hear.”

The reality of the story of numbers is that it is a story of power. The story is written by those with power and told by those without the power.  But under whose authority are the numbers generated? Hebrews 4:12, 13 suggests that someone knows the real numbers.

Columnist Eugene Robinson reportedly said, “Bargains with the devil never end well.” Perhaps he only told a part of the story. Perhaps the difference in power and authority is that power tells a story with numbers, while authority lets the numbers tell the story. According to Jeremiah 8, the arbiter of the universe grades with justice and equity for all.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Limited by Knowledge

by on Jan.29, 2011, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

PhD graduates realize that they have only developed the tools to begin exploration of knowledge in whatever is their field of study.

The paradox of learning is that to the outside world they have reached the top in their field, and yet they have “only just begun.”

Ephesians 3:20 says he will “do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think.” When we realize that the opening of our minds to the universal spirit brings us limitless opportunities, then we take off the boundaries.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , more...

Real Money

by on Jan.24, 2011, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

We all need goods and services for daily living. We could barter with each other for all of our needs, but it would not be efficient across time or place. Money, therefore, becomes necessary as a medium of exchange. It becomes the surrogate for value produced and expended.

Money can become corrupted, though, when it is manipulated currency — or “phantom capital” as we called it in previous documents. In these cases, rather than representing real value, it exists on paper only. One of the most common examples is when I buy a house for $100,000 which appreciates to $150,000. On paper, I now have a new $50, 000 worth of capital — money — although nothing new has been created. If I own a business, there is a more complex set of opportunities to create “paper” money. This new money is simply the function of agreed upon accounting and regulatory conventions, which can be changed, hidden, accelerated, diminished, or otherwise manipulated to conform to the wishes of those in control.

In a parable in Luke 19:23 a man is scolded for not giving his money to the bank, who would have charged usurious rates on the money. This precedes the oft quoted phrase: “to him that hath shall be given, and to him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

The “haves” and the “have-nots” are the groups that create financial energy in a macro system. Jesus said, “the poor you shall always have with you.” Like stirring a pot of soup, its flavor results from the process of energy generation. Some of the ingredients must die that the soup may live. The cries of the dying, though, are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (See James 5:4).

“Only the strong survive” is an oft quoted phrase. It provides justification for the tasty broth of the system that is created by stirring the soup to the boiling point. And the financial elite are able to enjoy the tasty delights of the energy created by the soup of financial fantasy.

There’s only one problem: as they enjoy their tasty bowl of soup they forget that it has no real nutrients.

Soon after eating, they will get the runs, because there’s no substance to their meal. Manipulated currency is like a house of cards. Some of them will realize the lack of substance, and feel fear tugging in the stomach — just before the diarrhea starts.

Eternity will laugh

Job 41:10

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

But for the Grace of God, There Go I

by on Dec.15, 2010, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

This title phrase is a very common phrase, and perhaps its meaning is different for each person who reads it. Legend has it that a person of significance was walking past a drunkard lying along the street and said, “But by the grace of God, there I am.”

Rather than looking at the drunkard with disdain and disgust, as we would often react, something triggered his response to connect with this person as if he were but a part of himself. Another well known cultural idiom, Six Degrees of Separation, suggests that we are connected to everyone else on the planet by no more than six degrees of separation. This sense of connectedness stands in sharp contrast to the narcissism that plagues our society and prevents conflict resolution.

Although we are each birthed through a unique birth canal, we really are part of the whole cloth of humanity. When we come to understand this, it changes our entire feeling about life and how we interact with other people. Our self worth can no longer be derived from houses, cars, education, physical appearance or other material assets. Instead we realize that we are part of the universe. We realize that we can do no better and no worse than the universal good.

Oh, all of those material assets and attributes are convenient set points from which to engage with other sojourners, but not to define our worth. Those are fluctuating value points that are not reliable.

Reliability is attained when we push beyond those boundaries into non-fluctuating currencies.

One of the most powerful phrases in the Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” As we push beyond the boundaries of debts and debtors to the concept of oneness we begin to move toward reliability.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is the wise man who sees the drunkard as one with himself, and forgives his debt, so that he may be forgiven.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...

Archives

All entries, chronologically...