Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.

Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)

About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.

The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Notes About Making Some Changes for the Better

There are professionals now who are called “Life-style coaches.” Their job is to work with individuals to develop strategies for changing life for the better. Counselors and therapists are coaches in a sense too, as they help individuals understand internal dynamics and begin to guide one’s internal dynamics in a positive direction. What we are coming to understand about human change is that not only does it require internal, psychological understanding, but it requires a change in external behaviors and patterns to go with the internal work. The mind follows the body just as often as the body follows the mind. Exercise and diet can restore healthy patterns of thinking and praying, just as healthy patterns of thinking and praying can help establish healthy patterns of exercise and diet. The internal and the external patterns are mutually reinforcing when they are negative and when they are positive.

What we need if we are to change for the better is the development of positive patterns in our external and internal lives. Fortunately, most all of us have experienced positive external and internal practices in the past. Most of us have been through times when we were exercising and eating in a helpful way. Most of us have been through times when we were engaging with others in a healthy way. Most of us have been through times when we enjoyed time alone, enjoyed times of prayer, enjoyed worship. Most of us have been through times when we gave up hurtful and negative patterns of behavior as well. When we made some hard choices to turn our lives in a new direction.

But, I ask: “Where are we today?” “Where are you today? Where am I today?”

What if I am at a point of dissatisfaction with how I am managing my life. Maybe I move back and forth between blaming someone else or some circumstances I can’t control for my disrupted life to beginning to take responsibility for negative patterns of thinking and acting.

Some words come to me: “You are responsible for your life whether the burdens you bear were self-imposed or imposed by others or by forces beyond your control. You are responsible for your life – to bear it out into the world for the glory of God and for the good of others and yourself.”

And, what is the biggest problem with my life? Often our basic problem is a lack of positive energy. What about this simple plan for change?: Stop doing those things that deplete energy; start doing those things that restore and sustain energy.

We need to remember that overeating (and, undereating), overdrinking, worrying, blaming (self and others) deplete energy. Exercise, praying alone, reading, working, listening,speaking honestly, music, crafts, especially self-expression, leisure with others, moderate eating and drinking restore and sustain energy. We don’t need to be overly moralistic about strategies of change. It is more helpful to simply name behaviors and ask whether they help create and sustain energy or cause the loss of energy in life.

God came among us to bring us life, not some rigid code of behavior. God came among us to make us holy/healthy,not to give us some religious code that would make us feel holy (and, perhaps feel holier than others). Secular pursuits can be more “holy” than religious pursuits if those secular pursuits create and sustain the energy of life and those religious pursuits deplete the energy of life (Jesus said: “I came that they might have life, and that abundantly”).

Note: self-expression through playing music oneself or writing or painting or building or knitting, etc. is almost always engaging, not disengaging behavior. Disengaging diversions are ones that require no self-expression, but rely on stimulation from outside, not from inside. The numbing part is that one is involved in something that does not require the presence of the self.

Now, it is often a matter of doing what you have done in the past to get back on a good path in life. Choosing to do so one day, and then another day, until you’ve put together a month, until you’ve put together a year, until it is simply the course of your life – so strong that you would have to consciously and wholeheartedly choose against it in order to keep the momentum from continuing on this good path. At the core of the positive choices; at the core of the engagement is a knowledge of the negative force of disengagement and a continuous, second nature choosing to both look out for and to resist any leanings towards disengagement with life. But, the leading thought is positive and engaging behavior,not negative and avoiding behavior. A primary focus on avoiding the negative simply leads back to disengagement.

Note: extremely conservative religion or rigid ideological religion (even if “liberal”)falls into patterns of disengagement by avoidance behavior. The worry over disengaging patterns becomes so extreme that it creates what it hoped to avoid: mind-numbing,disengagement from life. Examples can be drawn from rigid orthodoxy and the rigid patterns of behavior it generates, and examples can also be drawn from rigid “politically correct”lifestyles that cannot ever engage in life because of fears over “inappropriate” expressions both from oneself or from others.

No comments:

Post a Comment