Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Personal Growth

When people in our church go through baptism or membership classes, we urge them to identify a verse in the Bible they feel applies to their lives. Both the pastor and I have life verses we share with them, along with an explanation of how they were selected.

The life verse of our pastor is Philippians 4:3. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Fittingly, that is also the motto of the Trinity Triathlon, which is the first triathlon I will race. Many in our world today benefit from these words. They convey two things. First, there is nothing Christ cannot accomplish. What we consider impossible feats are simple tasks when the power of God is entered into the equation. Second, they remind us that God is the source of all our accomplishments. Easy or difficult, all we do should be for His glory.

My life verse comes from the youth organization to which I belonged as a teenager and with which I volunteer, now. And it is less a verse and more a way of life. That verse is Luke 2:52. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in strength, and in favor with God and man."

That verse is the foundation of a life model called the Four-fold Way of Life. It guides us to focus on four key aspects of development. They are mental, physical, religious, and social. Christ sought to grow in these areas, and achieving balance and then growth in all four areas results in some pretty neat people. As I grew older (and hopefully wiser), this took on greater and greater meaning in my life. An important part of my young life, it has become the center of my adult life.

Every day, we should strive to better ourselves just a little bit. We tell the kids in our youth organization they should "grow an inch." And we don't mean height wise. We want them to grow as people.

The whole marathon, triathlon, whatever comes after that journey is a part of my four-fold development. In addition to the purely physical improvements, the mental and social aspects of my life have improved. After all, when running with 40,000 of your closest friends, you have to develop some social skills. And learning to swim properly has been a huge mental struggle. And we can't leave out the blog families.

And all of it has helped me to focus on where the true ability (what little there is) comes from. My pastor's life verse, though not mine, is still key to this journey. The idea of completing some of these races is just mind boggling, to me. With strength from Christ, they are all within reach.


Kewl Nitrox said...

Great post. I think you expressed the essence of a life of Intentional Discipleship much betta than I ever have! :)

Iron Benny said...

Ah yes, personal growth. Personally, my favorite hobby. I totally agree with the underlying message here. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

I am sure you have heard the song "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club but have you ever given much thought to its meaning? While on Earth, you are living in a world of reincarnation which is governed by the law of karma. Karma begins to propel you as Soul on a personal journey through the universe. Karma ends when you have reached enlightenment and fully realise that this physical reality and the Universe itself is just an illusion. When you reach a state of knowingness that there is but One all pervading essence and that essence or consciousness is You!
So what is Karma and how does it work? While in the illusion you have a soul. This soul lives past, present, and future lives. To grow in love, joy, and awareness, you reincarnate into a series of physical bodies to experience different existences. This road leads to the experiences of being both sexes, all races, religions, and ethnic types throughout many lifetimes.
Karma in its simplicist terms can be described by the biblical statement "as you sow, so also shall you reap". Karma is the principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, total cosmic justice and personal responsibility. It brings 'good' experiences as well as 'bad' - a debt must be repaid and a blessing rewarded.
A more indepth esoteric look at karma gives us the following distinctions: Sanchita Karma: the accumulated result of all your actions from all your past lifetimes. This is your total cosmic debt. Every moment of every day either you are adding to it or you are reducing this cosmic debt. Prarabdha Karma: the portion of your "sanchita" karma being worked on in the present life. If you work down your agreed upon debt in this lifetime, then more past debts surface to be worked on. Agami Karma: the portion of actions in the present life that add to your "sanchita" karma. If you fail to work off your debt, then more debts are added to "sanchita" karma and are sent to future lives. Kriyamana Karma: daily, instant karma created in this life that is worked off immediately. These are debts that are created and worked off - ie. you do wrong, you get caught and you spend time in jail.
As a soul, you experience a constant cycle of births and deaths with a series of bodies for the purpose of experiencing this illusionary world gaining spiritual insights into your own true nature until the totality of all experiences show you Who you really are - the I AM! Until you have learned, you will find that pretending that the rules of karma do not exist or trying to escape the consequences of your actions is futile.
Although it may often "feel" like punishment, the purpose of karma is to teach not to punish. Often the way we learn is to endure the same type of suffering that we have inflicted on others and also rexperience circumstances until we learn to change our thinking and attitudes.
We are all here to learn lessons as spiritual beings in human form. These lessons are designed to help us grow into greater levels of love, joy, and awareness. They teach us our true nature of love. Where we do not choose love, show forgiveness, teach tolerance, or display compassion, karma intervenes to put us back on the path of these lessons. Quite simply, the only way to achieve a state of karmic balance is to be love.
Before you incarnated into your present personality, you agreed to put yourself in the path of all that is you need to learn. Once you got here, you agreed to forget this. Karma is impersonal and has the same effect for everyone. It is completely fair in its workings and it is predictable - "do onto others as you would have them do unto you" is a way to ensure peace and tranquillity in your own life as well as the lives of those you come into contact with. The law of karma is predictable - "as you sow, so shall you reap" what is done to you is the net result of what you have done to others!
Karma gives you the opportunity at every moment to become a better person than you are and to open up to the realization that you are the master of your own fate.
The goal of karma is to give you all the experiences that you need to evolve into greater levels of love, joy, awareness, and responsibility. Karma teaches that you are totally responsible for the circumstances of your life. They keep you on the straight and narrow until you have mastered your vehicle and can ride freely on your own. Once you understand that you are the master of your own circumstances and that everything you experience is a direct result of your past actions due to your thinking and emotional responses you can overcome its seeming negative effects by creating only 'good' karma.
Karma forces us to look beyond ourselves (oneness) so that we can see ourselves as we truly are Whole, Complete, at One with everything. Once we truly understand ourselves, we can see our divinity and our unity with all life.
Karma drives us to service. Love means service. Once you accept total responsibility for your life, you see yourself as a soul in service to God. Once you do, you become a fully realized being, allowing God to experience the illusion through you.
Belief in karma and an understanding of its workings will lead you to a life of bliss. Only your own deeds can hinder you. Until the time comes when we release ourselves from our own self-imposed shackles of limitation and fully understand who and what we are we will live under the mantle of karma. So until that day why not create some wonderful experiences for ourselves by "doing onto others, as we would have them do unto us". self hypnosis