Monday, March 26, 2012

Can Mantras be Christian?

What do you think about Mantras?

I know the idea comes out of Eastern practices, especially Eastern meditation, but is there any use for them in Christian practice?

Like most things, a mantra is nothing in itself. What that mantra states, however can have a powerful impact on a person's life.

The things we repeat to ourselves everyday, are our mantras. In meditation we choose a mantra. For Christians it should be something biblical, something that builds us up spiritually. Outside of meditation, however, we often repeat unhealthy mantras to ourselves without even thinking about them.

"I hate my job."  "I'm so tired." "I feel like ----"

These may be some of the mantras that repeat themselves in your head. These negative mantras have power too. They become our constant chant. Here is where the devil gets a foothold. He may be able to convince us to make a bad decision in order to escape what we feel is a bad situation. He may be able to plant sickness into our body too.

Remember what Proverbs 23:7 says? "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."

This week let's make it a practice to repeat something encouraging, something from Scripture to counter the negative thoughts each time one of them pops in our head.

"I hate my job."              "Thank you Father for providing a job for me in this down economic time."

"I'm so tired."                 "The Lord is my strength when I am weary."

"I feel like (fill in the blank)"   "But as for me, I will hope continually, I will praise You yet more and more." (Psalm 71:14).

What are some of the mantras that have helped you?
If you want this image for your wall, see

Monday, March 12, 2012

Walk the Talk for Health

"Achieving health, happiness, and the energy balance comes down to deciding
to focus more on the positive than on the negative and
to live in a manner spiritually congruent with what we know is truth."
~Caroline Myss, Ph.D. "Anatomy of the Spirit"

Two powerful actions in terms of our health. 

It takes no effort to focus on the negative. It pops in to our head without a thought. Feelings attach themselves to negative thoughts and make us believe they are true. Pretty soon we can end up in depression or discouragement. To focus on the positive we must stop our "train of thought" and say "No!" to negative thoughts. We have to take the thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5) and consciously think positive thoughts. They don't come automatically. Verses from the Bible offer great promises and we can be sure of their truth. Use them to replace negative thoughts. After practice, this kind of positive thinking will be much more common and take less effort. 

Also, it takes time and attention to live out our beliefs. If we live and think contrary to our belief system, it causes an imbalance in our body as well as in our spirit. It drains the body of energy and the mind of its excitement for life. Disease may follow if we let it go long enough. 

Again, with a little effort and time devoted to evaluating the way we live and think, we will recognize the problem. We then have the opportunity to make changes to our life based on our belief system. The Bible calls it "repentance." 

Remember that old saying? "Walk the talk."

It is fulfilling, healing and invigorating to live out what we believe.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect, or NOT

Speaking of discipleship, a true disciple sits at the feet of his master and awaits words of wisdom. When the master speaks the student quickly writes what was said so he/she can remember and ponder it for years to come. The master's words must be practiced to be useful.

The teachings of Jesus revolutionized our world, not to mention the Jewish religion. So much so that they had to call it by another name. The early followers of Jesus adopted the name "Christian" after being taunted with the word by unbelievers in the culture around them. It means "little Christ." They were saying these Christians didn't have a mind of their own, they copied Jesus exactly.

What a great compliment to them! No wonder that's the name they adopted for themselves.

I enjoy pulling lessons from T'ai Chi to illustrate a spiritual lesson. Here's another lesson from T'ai Chi master, T.T.Liang:

"Try to make everything correct [in practice]. Otherwise, if the wrong pattern is formed, 
it will be hard to change."
~Lessons With Master Liang, by Ray Hayward

I remember my mom always said, "Practice makes perfect." Then she upgraded that to, "Perfect practice makes perfect." It makes sense, right? If we practice the wrong thing, we'll just get really good at doing it wrong. 

T'ai Chi practice it so nit-picky. You didn't twist your wrist up as you turned your waist in that last poster. Your knees weren't bent enough, or they were bent too much. Or you didn't remain at a consistent level throughout the entire form-at times a little higher, at times knees a little more bent. Use your waist to turn. Your movements are too jerky, etc. etc. Why all the fuss? Who will notice? Do these small adjustments really make much difference? YES! 

The tiniest corrections make a world of difference to your circulation, the health of your knees, and to your effectiveness in a fight.

What about our health? Will small bad habits make a difference? Over time they could cost you your life, mobility or general health. I'd say they make a difference. 

What about our life as disciples of Christ? Will small "dishonesties" effect my relationship with God? What about little sins left undisturbed? Everyone has their vices. Negative attitudes left unchanged, grudges from the past, etc. 

Let me ask this what Christ died for? Does this kind of "discipleship" demonstrate the power of the resurrection?

Take a moment to evaluate your life practices, especially those that build/erode your life as followers of Christ.

May our lives mirror the life of Jesus and the power of His resurrection as clearly as Martial Arts disciples mirror their master. 
Lessons with Master Jesus.