Category Archives: Devoted Faith

Personal Legends and The Alchemist

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?  An astronaut, a doctor, an explorer, a fireman, an actress, a sea-captain, or maybe you just dreamed of getting to eat all the candy you wanted, without anyone to tell you no!  Whatever that dream was, are you living it out today?  And if the answer is no, why not?  What made you abandon the desires of your heart?  Was it all the people in your life telling you that your dream was impossible or that you needed to pick a new dream; a dream that you could make a career out of?  The truth is, that those people already gave up on their personal legends, and unfortunately they are not going to be able to help guide you to your dreams.

I am in the middle of reading the book, “The Alchemist,” and it talks a lot about one’s personal legend.  The book defines a personal legend as everything you would like to see happen in your life.  When you are young, your mind is clear and you are not afraid to dream and yearn for your hopes to be realized.  But as you grow older, you begin to believe that your dreams are impossible to achieve.  There is a section of the book that I would love to share with you that talks about personal legends in a little bit more detail.

“It said that all people who are happy have God within them.  And that happiness could be found in a grain of sand from the desert, as the alchemist had said.  Because a grain of sand is a moment of creation, and the universe has taken millions of years to create it.  “Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him,” his heart said.  “We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them.  We speak of them only to children.  Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate.  But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them — the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness.  Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.

“So, we, their hearts, speak more and more softly.  We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won’t be heard:  we don’t want people to suffer because they don’t follow their hearts.”

“Why don’t people’s hearts tell them to continue to follow their dreams?”  the boy asked the alchemist.

“Because that’s what makes a heart suffer most, and hearts don’t like to suffer.” 

Isn’t that tragic to think we are giving up our dreams to live a mediocre life?  I challenge all of us to take some time alone to think about what our dreams in life were and what are dreams are now.  Find out what the dream is and chase it with every essence of your being!  And if you are living out your dream today, than bravo to you for following your heart!

I think the key to being able to follow your dreams is understanding how to prioritize your life.  A good example of this is people who travel the world, but don’t really make a lot of money.  I am always asking them, how in the world do you finance your travels?  But the answer always is that they just make it happen!  They don’t spend money on decorating their home, buying new clothes, or having the newest technology.  They prioritize their money to go towards traveling funds and then they take off and see the world.  There is really nothing in this world that can hold you back.  Everyday you make the choice to do what you are doing and to prioritize your life into the type of existence you want to live.  Are you making the right choices?  Are you living the life you imagined?  Let’s start to!

“This is the beginning of a new day.  You have been given this day to use as you will.  You can waste it or use it for good.  What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.  When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, in its place is something that you have left behind… let it be something good.”

– Author unknown

Until next time,

Be Well!

Photos

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/865.The_Alchemist

http://liveinflow.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/laugh-often-dream-big-and-reach-for-the-stars/

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The Beginning

This piece was written on October 4th, 2005 for my theology course.

St. Augustine holds many beliefs concerning original sin, many of which are widely known by society.  Original sin has been taught in religion classes, and while the church may be moving away from the belief of original sin, church scholars once supported it.  St. Augustine formed the hypothesis of original sin, and supported it with his interpretation of text in the Bible.  He believes that sin originates from natural descent, and that the mistake made by Adam has been relayed down to society.  Another argument he proposed is that original sin is contracted by birth, therefore, we can assume that no one is free from original sin.  It is a weight he believes we all are destined to carry on our shoulders.  St. Augustine states that only Jesus can justify, and is also the only person ever brought into this earth without the burden of original sin.  Baptism is a subject that St. Augustine refers to, and suggests that it is necessary in order to free babies from damnation.  His beliefs, strong and supported, depict a world in which one has already betrayed God, by simply being born.

Fox paints a clear picture of what he believes, and has convincing evidence to support those beliefs.  Fox believes in original blessing in contrast to original sin.  Original blessing is original goodness, and when God created the earth He blessed us all, and that is how, in turn, we are born.  Fox states, “Nineteen billion years before there was any sin on earth, there was blessing.”  In this statement, Fox is stressing the fact that creation is 19,996,000,000 years older, because humans have only been around for four million years.  Sin was non-existent until the creation of humans.  A major argument referenced in Fox’s book is that original sin never appears in the Bible.  If something is not found in the Bible, then how can one state that it is a major truth of the Bible?  Fox believes that we do enter a sinful world, but we do not enter ourselves, as blotches on existence.  These arguments lead to one of his major beliefs,”Original blessing is far more ancient and more biblical a doctrine and ought to be the starting point for spirituality.”  Fox believes that society has been negatively influenced by the belief of original sin.  He thinks that belief in original sin made other social evils appear more acceptable.  Fox’s hope is that in the future, the belief of original blessing will flourish and overcome the beliefs of original sin.

Fifteen minutes ago, I would have said that I believed in original sin.  Now however, after I have been exposed to new possibilities, I have been influenced in a new direction.  The fact that original sin is never mentioned in the Bible, yet so widely believed, is somewhat unsettling to me.  As I read Fox’s views I tend to side with his belief because he provided compelling examples to support his views and arguments.  However, it is widely known that Adam did sin, and the rest of human society felt the repercussion of his actions.  These are two strong arguments, however, I feel inclined to believe in original blessing over original sin.  Original sin is the belief of one man’s theory, while Fox’s original blessing had numerous sources that supported his beliefs.  Original blessing also makes a stronger correlation with a God who created a good world.  He believed His creation was good, and would likely create an original blessing over an original sin.  God’s creation is not tainted; it is our free will that leads us each to our own original sins.

Considering I wrote this piece 6 years ago, I would definitely need to do some more research as this seems to be a hotly debated issue.  However, it is good food for thought.  Does anyone have any thoughts on this topic?  If you are intrigued, I definitely encourage you to do some digging of your own.  Any research done to explore your faith will only lead you closer to God in the end! 

hope more.

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A Father’s Forgiveness

Greetings my lovely blog followers!  For the next few posts in the faith section I am going to be sharing with you some papers I wrote in my theology course, freshmen year of college at St. Benedict’s.  I really enjoyed that class and would love to share some of it with all of you!

The following piece was written, October 24th, 2005.

A Father’s Forgiveness

     “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”(Luke 15.7).  This quote, taken directly from the scripture written by Luke, is a foreshadowing of the story of the prodigal son previewed in the following section.  It speaks of the great joy God receives when a person finds their faith, is able to truly believe in God and seeks forgiveness of their sins.  That person now has hope in a sometimes hopeless world, and purpose, in a world that questions the purpose of humankind daily.

     Luke 15.11 – 15.32 is a story displaying God’s compassion and grace for those who will repent and return to God.  While the father in this parable is very appreciative of his older son’s obedience, the younger son’s return to life must be celebrated.  His son could have been lost forever, but he found the strength to return and admit his mistakes.  It is a humbling experience to admit you were wrong to anyone, especially your family.  The older son is essentially being celebrated everyday because everything that belongs to his father belongs to him as well.  The younger son may have fallen into temptation, but the father understands that he has already received his punishment from shame and starvation.  It is a fatherly duty to welcome him back into his home and rejoice.

     The father in the parable is a parallel to our Father, God.  God is all-knowing, and will forgive us when we repent.  His patience and understating is unfathomable to the human race, but greatly appreciated.  To those in dire need of redemption, this story is a light, a beacon of hope.

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Short & Sweet

Let’s keep tonight’s post short and sweet and simply look at an awesome Bible verse from Roman’s.

Romans 12:9-19

   “Your love must be real.  Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good.  Love each other like brothers and sisters.  Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves.  Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart.  Be joyful because you have hope.  Be patient when trouble comes and pray at all times.  Share with God’s people who need help.  Bring strangers in need into your homes.

     Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them.  Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad.  Live in peace with each other.  Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant.  Do not think how smart you are.

     If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him.  Try to do what everyone thinks is right.  Do your best to live in peace with everyone.  My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger.”

Happy Bible Reading!

Photo: http://lissetteflores.com/2011/04/19/hope/

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Substance Church & My Faith Story

Substance Church.  No, this is not a church that focuses on substance abuse.  It is about living a life with substance, with God at the center.  It is a life filled with purpose, love, balance, adventure, and most importantly, God.  I figured that if I am going to be writing about faith, I should probably mention my faith background.

While I was raised Catholic, I would now simply consider myself a Christian.  Growing up,  I went to mass every Sunday with my family.  We even went when we were on vacation in Hawaii, and anywhere else for that matter!  There were parts that I loved, parts I did not understand, and other parts that were just painfully boring.  I would have to say that it wasn’t until I was in college at the University of Minnesota that I started to question why I was even going to Sunday mass in the first place.  I had always had a personal relationship with God, but for the most part He seemed pretty distant in relation to my everyday life.  The only reason that I could come up with for why I was going to church every Sunday was because I wanted to uphold my good Catholic reputation.  When I came to that ephipany, I realized that was probably one of the worst reasons for going to Church; status, reputation, and my ego.  I immediately stopped going to church until I could come up with a better reason.  I still prayed and thought about God a lot, I just wasn’t making it to church on Sundays.

It wasn’t until the Spring of my Sophomore year at the U of M in 2007 that I started going to church again.  I was in a public speaking class and one of my classmates, we can call him John, was doing his presentations on the history of Christianity.  I was talking with John after class and I asked him where he was currently going to church.  He explained that he was going to a church called Substance and he asked me if I would want to try it out sometime.  At this point in time I was feeling pretty lost, and I knew I needed to get myself back on track.  I remember thinking that the name sounded a little silly, but he was really cute so of course I said yes! (I just love it that God used whatever it took to get me back into a church!)

                         Pastor Peter

At this point in time, Substance was a teeny tiny church that held its services at the University of Minnesota – St. Paul campus.  We went to the 8am service, and I think there was about 20 of us in the room.  Pastor Peter not only led the message, but I also think I remember him playing guitar in the worship band as well!  (Now the church is at 4 different locations and has 7 different services you can attend.)  This service was completely different than any Catholic mass that I had been to.  There are three things in particular that I remember about my first time visiting Substance church.

1. It didn’t feel like “church” to me, but I really liked it.

2. The band was absolutely amazing, and they played Stand by Hillsong, a song that I immediately fell in love with.

3. I had never talked more about a message the following week in my entire life.

It wasn’t until Thursday of the following week, when I was telling someone about the message for the 10th time, that it suddenly dawned on me.  Wow.  In my entire life of attending church, I had never shared anything about the messages I had heard at church, let alone several times throughout the week.  This was something different.  This was about to change my life forever.

I began to attend Substance church regularly and started to realize they were saying pretty much the same thing my Catholic church had been teaching.  They just taught it in a way that I could understand and relate to.  The most important thing that Substance church, and specifically Pastor Peter helped me to realize, was that God was present in my life right now.  He cared about the life that I was living, and He was alongside me every minute of every day.  All I had to do was draw close to Him, because He was already there for me, all that time.  It is so funny how such a simple truth can completely change the way you look at everything in life.  Now, God is a part of my day, all day and everyday.

That pretty much concludes the beginning portion of my faith story.  Of course I still have my ups and downs in my relationship with God, but now I recognize more quickly if I am started to drift from God.  Substance church just happens to be the catalyst that helps me to connect with God on a deeper level.  I have an extreme passion for music, and that is something they put a lot of work into for their services.  I also love the amount of time they spend on the messages.  I get a huge chunk of new material every week to lead me, challenge me, and steer me onto the path of Life.

Every denomination worships and learns in a different way, but the important thing is to find the one that helps you to grow with God the most.  At the end of the day we all hear and should extend the same message of the Christian church and that is LOVE.  Leave all the judging up to God, and love your brothers and sisters.

Happy Loving!

Substance Church: http://www.substancechurch.com/

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Where Does Evil Come From?

In a political science course I took while in college at the University of Minnesota, we were asked to come up with an example of a situation that did not make sense.  I feel like it had a specific term, but I can’t seem to recall it.  The thought that sprang to my mind was one that I had thought of several times before, and I still have no answer.

If God created everything; absolutely EVERYTHING.

And if God is all GOOD, every single molecule.  

Then how did evil ever develop in any of His creations?

 If something is completely good, how can it create evil, or even the potential for evil?

This question does not make me question my faith in Jesus one bit, but only reminds me that I will never be able to figure out all of the mysteries of God.  However, it is still interesting to try to dive in and think through this perplexity.  Does anyone have any other examples of things in the Christian faith that do not make sense to you?  Please share.  I would love to hear everyone else’s thoughts!

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