How to Connect with God without Going to Church

Silhouette of woman praying to godGod is in the in-between. Spirit lives within us and around us. Spirit connects us with all of life both animate and inanimate. To communicate with God, we need to stay present and open to the wisdom that is available to us all the time. You don’t need to go to church to open your channels to higher vibrations.

Here are Nine ways to connect with God without going to church.

1.       Slow Down:

Your life is precious! You have a limited time on this fantastic planet earth. It is your job to make the most of it.  Staying open to this limitless sacred energy helps you to know how to live your life fully.  You will discover a natural flow to life that will carry you on like a gentle river.

If you want to stay connected with God, you need to slow down so the Spirit can get your attention. It is hard to remain related to the Holy when your life is so busy that you barely have time to sleep. God’s light will be revealed in our lives whenever we open up space for it to shine.

Make time for God, and you will be blessed.

2.       Meditate and or Prayer:

Meditation and prayer are all about creating openings for the Holy to reveal itself in our lives. Meditation can help you to experience God within yourself through your body, emotions, and mind. Prayer is more like an open conversation with Spirit.

There are countless ways to pray and meditate. One method you can use both is Centering Prayer. Father Thomas Keating has brought this practice back into our modern consciousness.  I love it because it does not require us to empty your mind. You choose a focus word to help bring you back into presence whenever you get too focused on a thought.

In the end, you need to find a practice that works for you.  You can have a conversation with God, but don’t expect instant answers. It may seem like God is not hearing you, but years later you will find that God did respond; not necessarily in the way, you had hoped. Prayer can include a lot of active waiting.  It is about living as though your prayer is answered but without any expectation of how God is going to respond.

There are many traditions to explore from a variety of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions. Then there are the Eastern religions/philosophies to explore. There is no wrong or right way to pray. The only condition you should put on prayer and meditation is the holy intention of generosity, love, and respect.

Don’t expect this to be easy at the beginning. You will need to practice this new habit most days of the week, intentionally, before it becomes a regular part of your life.

 

3.       Enjoy the Outdoors:

Most of us feel connect]ed to something higher than us when we are out in God’s fabulous natural world. I love walking along the seashore, lakes, and rivers. I love the grandeur of the mountains!  What do you enjoy?

Find where these sacred places are for you whether you live in the country or urban area. Make time for it. Go to these sites and just be. Soak in the beauty, wonder, and energy of the place.  Take deep breaths to quiet the mind so you can truly soak in the ambiance of the area. You will come out of these experiences at a higher vibrational level.

4.       Stay Open to Finding God within Yourself:

God is within you! God is as close as your breath and the beat of your heart. Going within helps you to find the oneness of God within you. Yes, you are worthy.  Yes, you are loveable.  Yes, you have a purpose in the world.

You might journal about how God is active in your life. Explore all the small and big things you have done that have made the world a better place whether that be for a person, pet, wild animal or for the whole earth.  Everything we do that blesses the earth, and all its inhabitants make a difference.

How do you know if it is God who is speaking to you?  It isn’t God if you are feeling shame. It isn’t God if it is destructive or violent. It isn’t God if you are trying to control or manipulate another person.

With practice, you will know the difference.

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5.       Look for God in each Person You Meet:

You meet all sorts of people every day. Try looking for God in each person you meet. It will change the way you see the world. It is tough to get angry with someone when you are open to the divine in them. Even if you can’t see God in another person, just know that God is there.

It is the holy within you that connects with the sacred in all people you meet, even people you don’t know. You know that you are part of God’s great family which includes every person on this earth.

6.       Stay open to Experiencing Spirit in Unexpected Places:

God will surprise you! Think for a moment of an experience of someone encouraging you or helping you, who you never realized cared about you.

Maybe it was the time a stranger stopped to give you directions. Perhaps it was the time when a person you had never met changed your flat tire. Maybe it was all the neighbors who brought you food when you were going through a rough time. Don’t focus just on people. Animals are amazing. Our pet dogs and cats intuitively know when you have a rough time.  Even wild animals warn us of wildfires. They let us know what kind of winters are to happen.

The most challenging gift from God is when it comes from a person you don’t like. It could be a sincere apology from a person who hurt you many years ago. An apology doesn’t mean you are required to become buddies with them. It can be enough to free you from the painful experience this person caused you many years ago.

 

7.       Find Music that Touches Your Soul:

What type of music touches your heart? Music can help you to get in touch with the inner part of your soul. I love Celtic music. What do you enjoy?

Music can take us to places in the heart that no words could ever hope to achieve. Music is universal. Everyone can appreciate music no matter where you come from, what you believe or how old you are.

There is spiritual music that is universal because it gets you in touch with the rhythms of life. Take time to listen to music that inspires you. Music is incredible when you are feeling down. Music can re-balance the body, heart, and mind.

Music takes you to your spiritual depths. It returns you to thin places where the holy and ordinary become one.  When you find yourself in thin places, you find joy in just being.

 

8.       Honor Your Body as a Sacred Place:

When you acknowledge that the Spirit is within you, it changes the way you see yourself. You begin to see yourself as valuable just for being you.

When you can feel the sacredness within you, you are called to take care of yourself. Imagine your body is your church, shrine, mosque, or any other holy structure. Our bodies need good food, exercise, relaxation, and meaningful work.

Our souls need loving relationships. Our emotional, spiritual and physical health needs attention, time and practice.

9.       Practise Radical Gratitude:

Practising radical gratitude opens the heart to the soul. Radical gratitude is the art of giving thanks to everything good in our lives. It can be:

·         The Sun that keeps us warm and helps to grow the food we eat

·         The Moon that controls the tides

·         Water that sustains life

·         Food that supports life on our planet

·         Friendship

·         Our pets

·         Animals, fish, insects e.c.t.

What else can you add to this list?

 

Practising this art of loving the world opens you up to experience the holy in your life. It is an excellent way for you to keep God in your day every day.  Our experience of the Spirit will become increasingly aware of the sacred the more you practice living with thanksgiving each day.

As you can see that connecting with God without going to church is achievable every day; but it does take practice.

It takes intentionality through slowing down, meditating, praying, enjoying the outdoors, looking for God within your self, being open to God in each person you meet, being open to experiencing God in an unexpected place, enjoy music that touches your soul, treat your body well and practice radical gratitude.

Staying attuned to God is a lifelong journey.  You are required to make these practices a regular part of your life if you want to live life to your best.

The best part is that you know deep within yourself you are never alone; the universe always holds you.

Yes, you don’t need a church to do this, but finding a community of like-minded people to encourage you on your journey is often helpful. But this can be any group. It doesn’t need to be a formal religious organization.

Find what you need to thrive with joy, hope, and purpose.  You are worth it!

 

Roland Legge offers coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families, and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information, please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by phoning Roland at 1 306 620-7478, or you can email Roland at rolandlegge@relconsultants.com

 

This article was first published at REL Consultants

7 Steps to Stay Grounded During Chaotic Times

 

A man is dealing with intense work rush hour traffic jam stress by getting relief doing yoga on top of his car in this humorous scene that shows PEACE on the license plate of the car he is sitting on.

You live in chaotic times. With electronic media, you are overwhelmed with news from around the world twenty-four hours a day. Most news is negative, full of fear, violence and despair. You feel weighted down by negativity. You want to experience joy without having to put your head in the sand. Here are seven ways to stay grounded despite all this and enjoy life.

  1. Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is a great place to start. Mindfulness is a meditation practice to help you to live in the moment. The good news is that living in the moment does not require you to silence the mind. It is normal for your mind to think just as it is for your heart to beat.

 

Mindfulness can help you to quiet the mind through not getting overly attached to your thoughts. If you have not done this before you will need lots of practise just because you are starting a new habit. Start small with a goal you can achieve. So, you might want to start meditating for only five minutes each day.

Your daily practise can help you to reconnect with your highest self leading to a more meaningful life. You are at your best when you are open to your three energy centers. The three centers are body (physical), heart, (emotions) and head (thoughts). You will discover an inner knowing that you will grow to trust. Over time you will find your inner peace that will help you to live with hope, joy and purpose.

  1. You are what you eat

You have probably heard this statement before “You are what you eat”. When you are grounded you pay more attention to how your physical and emotional self responds to different types of food. Your body will let you know what it needs.

Your body will also let you know what type of exercise it needs. Have you heard that you should exercise until it hurts? You can seriously hurt yourself if you don’t pay attention to the wisdom of your body. If your body is hurting you probably have pushed yourself to far.

Your body is unique to you. What others need does not necessarily mean you need the same thing. If you have tried, unsuccessfully, many exercise and diet programs do not despair. The more you practice mindfulness the better you will be with giving your body what it needs.

  1. Friends

Spending time in person with good friends can brighten your day. Have you noticed the difference between messaging, texting, talking on the phone and visiting in person? Meeting in person is always the most powerful way to connect with another person.

Most importantly you communicate not only with your words, but with your whole body. There is much you miss when you can not see the other person face to face, body to body.  When you are grounded, you can learn a lot about another person by how you feel inside yourself. You simply need to be open, to fully experiencing another person and be willing to go deep within yourself.

Have you noticed that you treat and are treated better when you are in person because there is no place to hide? There is much hatred and intolerance on social media because people don’t have to take ownership for what they say.

  1. Music therapy

Listen to music/songs that inspire you. What is your favourite song? Have you ever noticed what you experience on hearing different types of music and songs? Many of us are oblivious to how music impacts us.

Music and songs can touch as at a deep level. Some music gets us angry. Some music brings us feelings of peace. Some music is very disturbing. Have you ever reflected on how screen writers use music and song to heighten the emotions in a movie?

 

What music calms your mind? What are the songs that help you to cry?  What songs bring out the courage in you? Just remember what brings out these emotions in you won’t necessarily bring it out the same way in another person.

 

  1. Random acts of kindness

Practising random acts of kindness not only helps others, it changes the way you experience the world.  Have you noticed how good you feel after doing something positive for another person, an animal and/or for the environment? Acting with love changes the way you experience the world.

When you act with compassion your own energy is transformed. The energy of compassion permeates your whole being. You may not always be aware of it, but the people you meet are impacted by the emotional, spiritual and physical energy that emanates from you.

You attract the people with the same type of energy you have. Compassion attracts people with compassion. Calm attracts people who are calm. Contentment attracts people who are content. You will also attract those who desire to change. You can be a shining light for those caught in the storms of life.

 

  1. Joy of playing

Do you remember the joy of playing when you were a child? Playing helps you to find the inner child within you. A way of being when you are open, free and non-judgemental allowing you to experience the world through the lens of wonder and simplicity.

Growing up you have had to put on armour to protect you from all that all life throws at you. This is your ego at work. You could not survive without your ego, but as an adult it can hamper your growth. The good news is that with play you can rekindle that same spirit in you again.

 

Finding your true self can begin along journey for transformation. When you can begin to reside in this place of openness, wisdom and love suddenly the impossible is possible.

 

 

  1. Volunteering

Volunteer for an awesome non-profit organization is a great way to find hope, meaning and joy in life. What are your favourite non-profits? How would you like to make a difference in the world? What skills do you have to offer?

There are so many ways to volunteer in the world. Do you like to work in teams or do you work best work alone?  Maybe this will even lead to a job of your dreams.

Volunteering with a group that fits your values can change the way you see the world. When you feel good about what you do; you can change your emotions, your body chemistry and the lens which you see the world. The world will start to look a lot friendlier. You can choose to move from despair to hope. You will be a light to the world.

 

With intention, you can stay grounded no matter what is happening in the world.  Stay grounded through caring for your body, emotions and thoughts. Meditation helps you to stay in touch with your inner self. Caring for your body through exercise and eating well is life giving. Connecting with friends helps you to stay connected. Music and songs uplifts your spirit. Playing, like a child, opens your heart to experiencing the world with openness. Last and not least, volunteer for an organization that fits your values which helps you to radiate hope wherever you go.

 

Roland Legge offers life coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by phoning Roland at 1 306 620-7478 or book your appointment online at   https://www.relconsultants.com/calendar/ .  Please click on “Discovery Call”.

 

 

 

 

Jesus an agent of Transformation

Sermon – April 24th 2016

5th Sunday of Easter

By Roland Legge

Acts 11:1-18

Psalm 148

Revelation 21:1-6

John 13:31-35

 

 

It seems to be the rage today to talk about the need for change.  Some say “change is inevitable”; others say “change or die”; even others say “change must come”.

 

Yet most of us do not want change.  We get used to our routines.  Our routines help us to stay calm through all the ups and downs of life.  What are your routines?  When I get up in the morning I shave and take my shower, eat breakfast, give Abby attention, brush my teeth and kiss Jen.  Somehow this daily routine gives me comfort and helps me to face the day.

 

We have our routines in our churches too.  We get comfortable in the ways we operate as a congregation.  Every Sunday each of you have a good idea of what worship is going to look like.  Our order of service does not change much.  We have our favourite hymns.  We all have our favourite places we like to sit in the church.  We are used to coming to church at 10:30 am on Sundays.  Some of us are used to going out for brunch after church.

 

The way we do the church business has not changed for years.  We trust that certain people will do the work of the church so some of us don’t have to worry about it.  If something needs to be done, we form a committee. We run our meetings in the way we have been used to for many years.  Most of us don’t want to be at the meeting, and yet we spend a lot of time talking. We have our regular social and fund raising events that seem to magically happen every year.  We like our routine.  But we can not seem to understand why the younger generation often does not want to take part in the life of our church.   Too often we want to blame them for not being there.

 

In the early church the followers of Jesus were also fixated in their old ways even when they were not working well.    Peter was struggling with whom he should be ministering too.  He had been brought up to only care for the Jews.  Jesus had pushed him to love the foreigner, but he was being tempted to go back to his old comfortable ways.  Many of his friends and colleagues were being tempted to go back to separating the so called “clean” Jew from the “un-clean” Gentile.

 

If it hadn’t been for the dream that Peter had he might never have changed.  This is what he experienced in his vision:

There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me.

 

11:6 As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air.

 

11:7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’

 

 

11:8 But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

 

11:9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’

 

11:10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.

Acts 11: 5b – 10

 

 

So Peter takes a major turn in his ministry.   After his vision, he is invited to the home of Simon, a Gentile, to baptize his whole family which he does.  When he was there he would have had table fellowship, a meal, with them which was a big NO for the majority of early Christians. Many would see Peter as now being “un-clean”.  Yes, Peter was breaking away from the routine.  This made a lot of people uncomfortable.   It even made people angry.

 

So in the early times in the new Christian movement there was a lot of conflict between the different Christian groups many whom remained strictly Jewish while others began a growing ministry to the Gentiles until eventually Christianity became a separate religion.

 

There is nothing wrong with routine and traditions.  But it can become a problem if we get too stuck in our ways.  In the United Church of Canada, we have become too comfortable with our routines in our style of worship, the way we see ourselves and in the way we organize ourselves.

 

The world is changing at a phenomenal pace these days and the church is being left behind.   Most young people can not relate to us.  We are using a “language” that most young people do not understand.  It is going to take a lot of courage to re-think who we are, in the context of the time we now live in.  I think we need to get back to our routes which is the great commandments.  The commandments to love our selves, to love our neighbour and to love our God.  Then to reflect and act on how the Spirit is calling us to live this out in our modern times.

 

In Foam Lake United Church, we are being called to love our selves, to love our neighbour and God.  Many young people want to be part of movements that help them to live this out in their day to day lives.  Our challenge is to create a worshiping community that brings us together to spread God’s love in real ways.  It is a lot more than sitting in a pew every Sunday.  This requires us to create opportunities to grow together, to care for each other, to celebrate together, to walk our talk in our communities and to always remember that we are part of something much greater.  We are not only part of the whole Christian church we are part of the human family on planet earth.

 

In order for this to happen we must welcome all types of people into our community.  We must be willing to invite people who are openly Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Trans-gendered. We must be willing to invite people who hold different beliefs than we have.  We must be willing to invite people who are physically and/or mentally disabled.  We must be willing to invite young families with noisy children.  We must be willing to invite people who don’t seem to fit in e.g. The guy with the colored hair and earing and the women with pink hair in a short skirt. We must not only tolerate this we must be able to welcome the holy diversity of God’s creation with openness, welcome and love.

 

Are you ready to embrace the wondrous, awesome, incredible diversity of God?  I am!  Are you?

Embracing Change

Being our Spirit Selves

Be your self

Reflection:

Sermon – April 17th 2016

4th Sunday of Easter

By Roland Legge

Acts 9:36-43

Psalm 23

John 10:22-30

 

Have you ever met a shepherd?  Today most of us have never met a shepherd and don’t know what their life would have been like.  But in Jesus day shepherds would have been a common sight and thus the followers of Jesus would have known exactly what the metaphor meant.  So what does the shepherd metaphor mean in the Biblical story? Do you know?

 

Shepherds were poor people living on the land tending their sheep. It was not an easy job.  I am sure it was monotonous, but also very dangerous.  I quote now from Sandy Simpson:

Middle eastern cultures understood what shepherding was all about.  It was about feeding the lambs and the sheep, bringing them to good pasture lands and water, grooming and clipping them, delivering new lambs, leading them and teaching them to stay together, going off after the wandering lost ones, and protecting the sheep in the field and in the fold. 

http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/agoodshepherd.html

There were times when the shepherd would risk their life to protect their flock.  They new when there was danger just by the way the animals were behaving because they new their flocks well.

For the early Christians Jesus began to be seen as the Good Shepherd.  This was not a job for wimps.  It was going to take great dedication, love, generosity, the ability to teach, the courage to protect and the willingness to discipline those who have fallen off the track.  Jesus took seriously his call to guide, challenge, inspire, encourage, and love, showing us the path to new life.  He new it was risky and would likely lead to his death on the Cross.

 

In Psalm 23 the Good Shepherd is one in the same as the Holy Spirit. To invite the Spirit to journey with us we need to be fully tuned to the wisdom that is within us and around us. When we have that intimate connection with Spirit we will always find the courage to do what we have been called to do no matter how much our lives may be put at risk.  It doesn’t mean we won’t feel fear, but we won’t let that fear block us from doing what needs to be done.  We will also have that inner knowing that we are not alone.  I think Peter finally discovered this after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

 

Now when bumbling Peter arrives in the Book of Acts, after many struggles to find his faith and courage, finds his Christ self.   His true self.  He finds that one of his faithful disciples, Tabitha is dead.  Tradition says that Tabitha was an independent women of means who supported the ministry of Jesus.  Peter was called to her home and found her lying there dead.  He immediately calls upon her to get up.  There is no debating of what to do.   He inwardly new what he needed to do.  Do you have that kind of inward knowing?

 

How do we come that place of inner knowing?  Each of us need to find a way to become present enough to feel the power of the Spirit through our bodies, each other and the whole creation.  The Good News is that it is available to all of us.

 

We come to that inner knowing through intentional prayer and meditation.  First we can start by taking time out of our busy lives to quiet our minds and open our hearts.  But we don’t just have to sit and do nothing.  If we start with an intention of prayerful openness and love, anything we do such as cooking, gardening, reading, writing, singing, creating pottery, making wine and so much more can be a form of prayer. This can bring you joy and hope?  I invite you to consider what forms of spiritual practise helps you to quiet your mind?

 

Recently, I have been learning to be more present in the moment.  I have been learning to quiet my mind.  While I may not always be successful in doing this I have become much better at it.  I have done this through meditation, getting Life Coaching, going for massage, body work, eating better, exercising and being much more conscious of what is going on in my head.  Up to a few years ago my mind was more like a three ring circus that would never stop. The Spirit would always get a busy signal when it was trying to reach me and now it is often able to get my attention.

 

I have avoided doing a lot of things the Spirit was calling upon me to do because I was too fearful of change.  I was fearful of not having enough money.  I was fearful of not having a big enough of RRSP.  I was fearful of making mistakes.  I was fearful at failing at a new career.  But for the most part this has gone and I am finally ready to broaden my calling to ministry by reaching out too many people outside the church through my calling to be a Life Coach.  I am not worried and I am feeling good.  Are you afraid of making changes in your life?    I invite you to seek out the wisdom of the Spirit.

 

None of this can experience transformation without some form of community.  I have a number of groups of people who have become family to me that have and continue to enrich my life. I would not be where I am today without them.   My wider family is the church, my Enneagram community and the many other people I know.  For me God is working its love through these amazing people.  I would not be where I am today without them.  Who are those people for you in your lives?

 

Our churches can be places where we come together to shepherd each other and be a sign of the promised New Jerusalem. They can be places to challenge each other into being who we can be.  They can be places to support each other through the rough times.  They can be places to build strong relationships that will give you the courage to face the many adversities that are thrown our way.   They can come places where we welcome all those who are on the fringes of our society.  It can be the place where love is felt, experienced and celebrated, especially among the poor, the hungry, the mentally ill, the oppressed and the physically infirm.  Churches who are open to the Holy Spirit just naturally do this.

 

Let it be so!