Mindfulness

As a Christian, I have always heard of the benefit of meditating on God’s Word. This is an active meditation that includes contemplation of the Scriptures and prayer. I have also been warned about the dangers of Eastern meditation, which is basically am emptying of the mind, a turning off of the thoughts, and is considered a form of self hypnosis, and therefore dangerous for a Christian to engage in.

However, there is a third form of meditation, often called mindfulness. As I understand it, it is mindfully focusing on one thing at a time, as opposed to multitasking. Perhaps that is eating a meal, exercising (it’s hard to think of anything else while exercising, unless the intensity is extremely low), or just about any task. This could include deep breathing exercises, listening to music, etc.

So I have heard well-meaning Christians shying away from mindfulness because they think it is a form of Eastern meditation. However, I am beginning to think that this is a misconception. First, it is based on the understanding that Eastern Meditation also focuses on the breath. However, even the most adamant opponents of EM would agree that daily deep breathing exercises are a good daily practice. The difference is that one is done with the intention of clearing the thoughts, while the other is done with the intention of breathing deep. I would challenge you to try to do deep breathing exercises while doing anything else that requires any kind of focus (reading, cooking, etc). You can’t do it. As soon as you begin to focus on the other task, your breath returns to normal.

And what is wrong with focusing on one thing at a time? Nothing. Multitasking is overrated. Eating mindfully would be focusing on the food and flavors and the sensation of fullness or hunger. Nothing wrong with this. In fact, far from clearing the mind, of being thought-less, it is thought-full, actively engaging the frontal lobe and critical thinking skills (Do I need more? Have I had enough?). I would just call this mindfulness, not meditation, but some people like the word meditation (usually not the conservative Christians I’ve referred to).

The point of all this is that if you are inclined to avoid something because of the label it is given, because the label is similar to something you know to be dangerous, make sure you’re judging the thing for its own value and not for the label it has and the ideas you have of the label.

In this definition, all intense exercise is meditative, because there’s hardly any way you can do anything except focus on the exercise. You can’t do math; there’s not enough glucose available. If you try, your intensity will drop. You can’t plan the rest of your day. All you can do is focus on the next rep, the next jump, the next pull, the next step. That’s mindfulness by default; you don’t have a choice. But what if you spent more time being mindful in other areas? How about in spending time with your kids? Mindfulness would be putting the phone down when your kids talk to you. Mindfulness would be playing a game after the chores are done and there’s nothing to distract you. Mindfulness would be family worship with everyone attentive and participating.

Author: Lisa Reynoso

https://www.facebook.com/LisaReynosoBiz/

Old Testament God

There is a strange teaching out there that the God of the Old Testament is an angry, critical God while the God of the New Testament is a loving and redeeming God.  Yet in both the Old Testament (Malachi 3:6) and the New Testament (Hebrews 13:8) we find that God does not change but is the same now as He always has been and always will be.

 

The wars of ancient Israel cause many to question how the God of the Old Testament can be considered a loving God.  One must first understand that war was never God’s plan.  God did promise the land of Palestine or present-day Israel to the decedents of Abraham however the fact that many Egyptians left Egypt with the Hebrews (Exodus 12:38) tells us the land was not just for Abraham’s biological decedents but for believers in the true God.  Tales of the Hebrews certainly went before them.  The people of Palestine certainly received the news of the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea and destruction of the Pharaoh with his army.  Just as Egyptians were welcome to join the Hebrews when they left Egypt, those that inhabited the land of Palestine could embrace the faith of Abraham and make their home with them.  God’s purpose was not to wage war against the inhabitants in military fashion.  God’s plan was to drive them out with hornets (Exodus 23:28)  The reason the Hebrews had to fight military battles to take the land was due to their lack of faith.  When we, as people, doubt God, we often make our battles much more difficult than what God had intended.

 

I have always been taught that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.  The two compliment each other.  Many Christian believers skim over the Old Testament sanctuary and its services without understanding the depth of its teachings.  The denomination I belong spends a lot of time studying and teaching the lessons of love, grace and redemption found in the sanctuary.  This note is far too brief for me to go into it.  The Old Testament Hebrews did not have the life of Christ to study so God used the sanctuary to teach them the gospel.  The same gospel we read in the New Testament was taught to the Hebrews through symbolism.  I use to find all this talk about the sanctuary as incredibly boring but as I have learned more about it I see more and more how the message of God’s love was profoundly taught to the ancient Hebrews through it.  That is why King David longed to build a permanent sanctuary for the Lord and why his son Solomon did.  The pagan temples were all about trying to please angry gods through sacrifice but in the Old Testament the sacrifice was a symbol of a loving God who would come and lay down His life for the sinner.  What a contrast!  But that is only the tip of the ice berg in the loving symbolism of the sanctuary.  Every service and every piece of furniture had a symbolic meaning that was and is part of the gospel message.

 

God doesn’t change.  God’s first words to sinful man were not critical or angry words.  They were loving words.  As Adam and Eve hid in the garden, God called out “Where are you?”  God looking for man just as Jesus described the Shepard looking for the lost sheep.