The Institute For Living

Tag: despair

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...

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...

We Have no King But Caesar

by on Dec.07, 2010, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics

Caesar represents money, power and control; how seductive are those qualities. As we move into the Christmas season, we are presented with the Christ who represents the alternative: love.

But he was despised and rejected of men, and we hid our faces from him. He was a wine bibber and a friend of publicans and sinners. He identified himself with the suffering and those less fortunate. Who would want to be in his club when offered the choice to fraternize with Caesar’s court?

So when the babe of Christmas was offered up to death, the judge said, “I offer you the king”, but the people said, “we have no king but Caesar.”

His mother cried.

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

Official fears 100,000 dead after quake

by on Jan.14, 2010, under News Commentary, Spirituality

Rescue workers struggled to clear rubble and bodies from the streets of Haiti's "flattened" capital, where a government official said the death toll from the 7.0-magnitude earthquake may exceed 100,000. This tragedy makes my heart go out to all the people who have lost loved ones. As a father and grandfather who has suffered near fatal tragedies, I can empathize with the gutt-wrenching pain and agony these families face. There is a passage in the Old Testament of the Bible -- Jeremiah 31:15 --that says, "There was a voice heard in Rama, Rahel weeping for her children...because they were not." This prophecy, tied to the Christmas season, which we just celebrated, calls us all to honor the least among us and care for the defenseless. When we recognize the poor, the needy and the despised among us, we bring life, healing and hope to the whole of humanity. If we neglect those less powerful, we breed the seeds of our own defeat.
Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , more...

Thanks for the Pain

by on Nov.25, 2009, under Core Values, Spirituality

Tomorrow, people across the U.S. will gather together for Thanksgiving Day.  Most of us will reflect upon the good things and good people that have been in our lives for the past year, and we will express our gratitude to the One who provides these gifts to us.  It is a day of gratefulness and appreciation.

This year, as you count your blessings, remember to include the painful elements of life.

I know that it sounds a bit odd, but remember to give thanks for the unpleasant times you have had along with the pleasant ones; show appreciation for your painful experiences along with the joyful ones.  Good times and pleasant people are easy to appreciate because they give us happy feelings, but bad times and dificult experiences are also vital to our health, for they compel us to grow.

For instance, what are the possible end results when a romantic relationship passes through a difficult stretch?  Either the couple will stay together through the ordeal and find their love for one another deepened through the shared experience, or they will realize that the relationship has no staying power, and each will go his or her own way.  Is not either outcome preferable to a shallow, stagnant relationship?  Or think about difficult economic times.  While we prefer the ease and comfort of wealth, it is when we financially struggle that we learn to appreciate what we have.  Rough economic times force us honestly to sort through our priorities as we stretch our resources, and having less money available to run all around town means that we end up spending more quality time with our families.

The same kinds of blessings may be found in any type of hardship.  In losing those things and people that made us comfortable, we begin a journey into the unknown that provides us with freedom, growth and change.  Entering into new life is difficult and painful, but it is good for us; it grants us wisdom and understanding and experience, all of which help us to become better people.  Profound insights emerge from the depths of despair, if we are open to them.

This Thanksgiving, as you list the blessings in your life, remember to give thanks for your sorrows.  They may not be pleasant to experience, but if you have the wisdom to learn, they are shaping you into a better human being.

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...


All entries, chronologically...