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 connected 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

Would you have Moses over for Dinner?

 

Would you have Moses for Dinner?

 

June 22nd 2014

 

Foam Lake United Church

 

 

 

A Snapshot of Moses:

 

Would you have Moses over for dinner?  I am not sure if I would.  I would be honoured to get to know him.   To be able to say I actually met him in person would be awesome.  However, I am afraid of how he might mess up my life.  He might just get one of his messages from God that would now involve me.  I am not sure if I want to take the risk.

 

Moses is probably one of the most influential leaders of the Hebrew People.  Tradition says that Moses was born to a Levite couple.  At the time of his birth there was an Egyptian decree to kill all newborn Hebrew males.  His mother is said to have cast him adrift on the Nile River.  It was Pharaoh’s daughter who finds him and makes sure he is saved.  A wet nurse is found who happens to be Moses mother and so Moses grows up in the midst of the powerful in Egypt.

 

We know little of Moses when he was growing up.  It wasn’t until his “burning bush” incident that God gets Moses attention to become the leader and liberator of the Hebrews in Egypt.  Moses came up with many excuses to now follow God.  But God always had a comeback leaving with Moses no excuses to run away. 

 

Moses became the spokesperson for his people. 

 

To convince the Israelites Moses was told the name of God in the famous and difficult phrase “I am that I am” [Exodus 3:14, also 6:3] and shown a series of wonders he will perform for them: changing a rod into a serpent and back to a rod again; making leprosy appear and disappear from his hand; and changing water into blood.

 

Harper’s Bible Dictionary General Editor Paul J. Achtemeier Harper San Francisco.  Page 656

 

 

 

Moses job was to convince Pharaoh to free the Hebrew people.  He was also the intercessor between God and the Hebrews.  He managed to convince God a number of times to not be too harsh on his people.

 

We also know Moses for being the law giver and judge.  He simply passed on God’s law to the Hebrew people.  Today we still take seriously the Ten Commandments which tradition names Moses as the author.

 

Most of all we know Moses for being a leader.  It was not an easy job because his people would often complain.  They had short memories, quickly forgetting the oppression they faced Egypt.  Moses had to keep encouraging people to move forward overcoming their fears each and every day.   He would re-tell their story of Exodus over and over to remind them of the journey they were on.  Jews do this to this very day when they remember their foundational story of exodus every year.

 

The story suggests that Moses was 120 years old when he died.    You see 120 years was considered the ideal life span.  He died on Mount Moab viewing the land his people would move into upon his death.

 

Scholars cannot say if Moses really lived.  I suspect there was a person name Moses, but much of what has been told about Moses is myth.  Myth is story not based on fact but story told in ways that reveal more ‘truths’ than any factual story could ever hope to tell.

 

The story of Moses whether factual or narrative is still one of the key stories in the world today.  It has influenced many people to this very day in inspiring correct teaching and revolution among the people.

 

 

 

Theme time: The Ten Commandments page 213 Lectionary Story Bible

 

  • Then make our own Ten Commandments for today

 

 

 

Sermon – February 20, 2011

 

By Roland Legge

 

Exodus 3:1 – 12   and 4:1 – 12

 

 

 

Our scripture today focuses on Moses call.  Can you imagine coming across a burning bush that was not being consumed?  Most places this would be a strange sight unless you were at Universal Studios in Los Angeles U.S.A.  Would it get your attention?    How has the Creator got your attention?  What have been your “burning bushes”?

 

 

 

Moses was not unlike most of us when we are asked to do something difficult.  He wanted to run away.  He didn’t think he had the personal gifts and skills to be a leader in his community.  Moses gave God so many excuses, yet the Creator always had a comeback.  Thus, Moses ran out of excuses and new he had to give, this life calling, his best “shot”. 

 

 

 

Our Creator gave Moses a huge and ominous task to lead his, Hebrew, people into freedom from the oppression of Pharaoh in Egypt.  Moses new this was risky business and new he could not do it without God’s involvement. 

 

 

 

He like his people believed that God was part of everything and thus he had nothing to fear.  He believed that whatever would happen would be the will of God.  But this didn’t mean that Moses had to agree with the choices of God.  So there are numerous times when Moses confronts God because of the Creators harsh punishment to the Hebrew people.   Hence it was not unusual for God to change God’s punishment after Moses had interjected on his people’s behalf. 

 

 

 

I wonder how long it took for Moses to be convinced to become the religious and political leader of his people.  I doubt it happened overnight.  I suspect it was a more gradual process. 

 

 

 

What are the “burning bushes” in your life?   For me my separation and divorce from my first relationship was a wakeup call from God as I have shared with you before.  I am not saying that God brought on my divorce.  Rather my life got so bad that the excuses I had made no longer worked.  I could not accept my old life script any more.  My old script was based on my wishful thinking, that if I tried hard enough to make Yvonne love me, our relationship would become harmonies.  You see, once I realized how I had deceived myself, I could no longer stay in the relationship as it was.  There would need to be dramatic change and if not the relationship would have to end.

 

 

 

Why did it take so long for me to come to this point?  I was afraid of what others would think of me if I was to leave Yvonne.  In the end I discovered that many people wondered why I had stayed so long in the relationship.  It took this dramatic “burning bush” event for God to get my attention.  I have since then tried to stay more in touch with the Holy Spirit helping me to live a much more joyful life than I had lived up to that time.

 

 

 

Back to Moses; once Moses had accepted God’s call he now needed to try and convince his people that God had commissioned him to be their leader.  Moses new he was going to need lots of help to make this happen.  So the Creator enables Moses to do ‘miracles’  such as his walking stick turning into a snake, which convinces his followers that YAWEH has chosen him to be their leader.

 

I can relate to Moses.  It is sometimes hard to convince others that we have been truly transformed by the Divine.  Unless we are church people few people would be open to this Good News.  Even church people may be sceptical.  I would probably be one of those sceptical people.  Would you?  How do we show people that we have really changed?  I think the only way for people to believe that we have changed is by truly getting to know us.  

 

 

 

It can be very hurtful to be not believed.   A few years ago I was at a training event.  At the end we were put into small groups with a facilitator to discern if we were called to this particular form of ministry.  One of the members of the group, new me from some years before; and he didn’t seem willing to be open to possibility that I may have grown in confidence since I had last seen him.  Out of concern for me he swayed the group to block me from getting the accreditation I was hoping for.   When have been the times you have felt misunderstood?

 

 

 

In the end we, like Moses, need to go out and be who we are called to be no matter how many doubters may be out there.

 

 

 

I think the bottom line for Moses was the ongoing task of building community.  This is what he did all his life.  Here are some pointers as to how this community forms and nurtures itself.  I quote from an article called Exodus and Community by Elizabeth McMaster written for Sojourners Magazine in 1986.

 

  • Community begins in the inspiration or vision that brings people together out of scatteredness and isolation and binds them in one hope.  People gather together in voluntary displacement.
  • It finds its authority in Christ’s mandate, “Remember me,” and Gather together that I might be among you.”
  • It grows through the willingness of its members to conspire or breathe together on behalf of life, which is the proper work of community in the Spirit of God.
  • Like the communities of the ancient covenant, it lives in enfleshing, in enacting its covenant with God and with one another, making visible the power of God in our world.

 

WWW.sojo.net  Exodus and Community by Elizabeth McMaster.  Sojourners Magazine, March 1986

 

 

 

In this context, God calls us to break down the walls of fear and division, as Moses did so well. How does this inform our own personal and corporate faith journeys?  What do you think Moses would say to us here at St. Paul’s United Church?  I have no doubt he wouldn’t be afraid to tell us what God is calling this congregation to live out.  How God desires for us to break down the walls of fear in our own community. I doubt he would be very popular because he would push into action in ways that some of us would feel very uncomfortable and unprepared!

 

 

 

I wonder what would be the burning issue that Moses would find in Cochrane.  I believe he would want to bring forth justice wherever there is injustice.  Maybe he would push for Anglophone, Francophone, Aboriginal, and Meitei to all work more closely together to make our community a healthier place to be.  What do you think? …………………………………….

 

 

 

Moses was one of the greatest leaders of our faith tradition that encompasses Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  I hope Moses opens us up to having more honest and open dialogue with our Creator; for us to learn the discipline of knowing when the spirit is speaking to us rather than our egos.  I hope we learn from his courage to take on leadership.  How he was willing to take on difficult tasks.  May we find the same intimacy with our Creator.  May we find the same courage to go where the Creator desires us to go.

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