Soul School-Lesson 57: The Prisoner Prayer

Soul School-Lesson 57: The Prisoner Prayer

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Today on Soul School I am sharing a version of a presentation on prayer that I gave to the inmates at Federal Prison FCI Schuylkill who (voluntarily) attend ongoing LIFE Ministry (Christian) classes.

My book on prayer is called LIFE AS PRAYER:


My book was inspired by Brother Lawrence and this book:

The Letters of Brother Lawrence

BIO:
Brother Lawrence was a man of humble beginnings who discovered the greatest secret of living in the kingdom of God while serving as a brother in a monastery near Paris. For Lawrence his life was involved the art of “practicing the presence of God in one single act that does not end.” Lawerence often stated that it is God who paints Himself in the depths of our soul. We must only open our hearts to receive God and God’s loving presence. For nearly 300 years this unparalleled classic (which is mainly a collection of letters from him and remembrances of him) has given both blessing and instruction to those who can be content with nothing less than knowing God presence in all God’s majesty and feeling God’s loving presence throughout each simple day.

 


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Eps 84: Recovering Your Mental Health, guest Michael Weinberger

Eps 84: Recovering Your Mental Health, guest Michael Weinberger

Welcome to Spark My Muse!

DETAILS:
• Each FRIDAY, guests join me in a conversation.
• Come back each Wednesday
(on “Hump Day” aka Midweek) for a brief Soul School “lesson”–something for your interior world and common life.


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October is Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s hard sometimes to realize that our brain can become ill, just like any other part of our body. Sometimes the condition is lifelong and other times we can mitigate the problems with certain treatments. Today, my guest, Michael Weinberger, shares his story of struggle and recovery that I think will surprise and inspire you.

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AUDIO PLAYER:


SHOW NOTES:

MIN 1
The misdiagnosis

MIN 3

The downward spiral, drinking and over eating and taking medicine wrongly, and over working.

MIN 7:30

Overdosing and hospitalization.

MIN 9:00

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and 12 step strategy brought the most relief.

(CBT) uses the theory that Thoughts precede Feelings which Precede Behaviors. The goal is to change beliefs.

11:00 The primary focus is 12 Step Recovery is addiction. You only have control over yourself. Humility and acceptance are key to success.

Mindfulness to deal with depression and anxiety that leads to emotional over or under engagement and reactions leading to negative outcomes.

Compassion for self and others.

All the methods and modalities need to be integrated into life.

MIN 13:00

Dr Denise Brooks

“Your diagnosis doesn’t matter.” (Manage your symptoms; Don’t blame the illness.)

MIN 14:30

Thinking of negative thoughts differently

MIN 15:00

Owning up to thoughts and feelings.

But not being ashamed and (also) getting some distance.

MIN 15:30

“Now, I witness my diagnosis responding to situations”

MIN 17:00

DBI (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)

Noticing the triggers create reactive states. (Notice the internal dialog to self and others and stopping repeat conversations.)

The treatments rewire your brain and get you unstuck and lessen stress.

MIN 20:00

Our human emotions are outnumbers by negative emotions so we have to practice gratitude to even things out.

MIN 22:00

The app Michael created called A Plan For Living.

The Happiness Formula:

Gratitude + Spirituality + Mindfulness = Awareness 

(Awareness = Happiness)

Seeing the world differently and being present.

MIN  34:00

Being prepared for war or thinking lovingly toward people in the first place.

MIN 35:00

Examining thoughts and making the process easier in real life through technology.

Measures progress

 • WEBSITE – a plan for living.com

• email: mweinberger@aplanforliving.com

• TWITTER: @aplanforliving

Available at the Play store and App Store

MIN 40:00

Reminders, medication reminders, micro goals for each day, track food, and challenge friends.

Staying in tune with how you are feeling and social sharing and emailing.


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Soul School – Lesson 40: Prejudice, Peace, and Justice

Soul School – Lesson 40: Prejudice, Peace, and Justice

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Welcome to Soul School!

Soul School comes out each Wednesday
(Which is Hump Day – midweek in the work week).

This episode is the the hardest one I’ve done yet.

• I recorded it with no notes and off-the-cuff with my heart busted wide open–just after Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were senselessly killed but just before the 5 Dallas police officers were assassinated by a snipper during a peaceful protest march. Even though it’s not a typical Soul School in some ways, I hope it’s meaningful to you some how. If so, let me know.

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SHOW NOTES:
Photo of me and my father, Joseph Colón:

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Esp 22: Why The Dark Night of the Soul is like Fight Club

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Shownotes
Doug Jackson, Returning Guest and All-Star, Explains the 3 Stages of Spiritual Development and Dispels the Biggest Myths.

Do you know St John of the Cross?

What you don’t know could hurt you…but good news, you are now in for a treat!

Listen and get a fascinating perspective of the darkest places on the spiritual journey with your guide Professor Doug Jackson. See the show notes below!

DougJackson

3:00

Historic context of 16th Century Catholic Revival-Era Spanish Mystic, St John of the Cross

4:30

3 stages of spiritual development 

How do we know if we are making progress and what can we expect?

St John (1542-1591) provides a roadmap for night travel.st-john-of-the-cross-zurbaran-detail-featured-w740x493

The Beginner Stage
(The beginner loves God for the self’s sake. The beginners thinks, “What’s good for me.”)

John H Coe

Doug explains the Dark Night of the Soul, the important next stage of spiritual development, in keen and helpful detail.

7:00

God starts at the first stage (in a place of joy and thrill in God) and allows us delight in spiritual things and feed on “mother’s milk” spiritually.

Next, God helps us get used to our baby teeth by moving us to love God for God’s sake.

John of the Cross takes the 7 deadly sins and show how they can happen to us in a spiritual sense.

8:10

God is weening us away from nursing and from spiritual milk. Like a baby, we may misunderstand and feel unloved or unnoticed, at first.

9:00

Commodified is the Dark Night of the Soul in Amercian Evangelicalism. The phrase itself is often used inexactly.

It’s not feeling sad or a string of bad things have happened for which we feel upset and confused.

BUT—It is that without cause we feel God has abandon us.

It is not a loss of faith, nor not depression, nor a felt distance because of sin.

It was also an analysis of depression 400 years before Freud! 

11:00

God withdraws sensible (sensory, felt) affects. The dark night of the senses. (first phase).

12:30

Maybe it feels like prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. Maybe it feels that songs or sermons that had made an affect no longer do. This sense of loss will be different for each person.

13:30

Essentially, the delight in God disappears.

13:00

Mistakenly, we often may try to shock people back into spiritual infancy with a method, tactic, or suggestion that seems like it might cause feeling once again. (like a book, a conference, a service, etc)

14:10

The spiritual advice from John is to not abandon your spiritual practices (like prayer, fellowship, meditation, service, etc) continue to obey God and carry on until you pass through the night. They won’t be fun, but you continue for God’s sake, not your own.

Then you can come out on the other side to the stage of the Proficient. (Though the stages are actually more porous.)

15:00

The 2nd stage is where John says most of us get and hardly proceed from.

2nd dark night, is rare, and is horrible and includes a bewilderment and even a loss of faith in God and one comes out with a much richer deeper faith and far more settled and fuller understanding of God.

John Coe using 1 John 2:12-14 explains the stages as well.

18:00

John of the Cross found this understanding through terrible suffering and imprisonment and he saw the spiritual connection.

19:30

In the Dark Night of the Soul, spiritual answers are obscured and things are hidden from view.

Walking by faith and not sight.

22:00

If you can’t find the answers it doesn’t mean that something went wrong, it’s just that you can see right now. There will be a lack of certainty.

22:30

Stick with the basics in the dark night.

23:30

In the dark night we aren’t doubting our Faith, or God, but but we are doubting our understanding of God and our Faith.

The call is to obey God and persist in our ways as before. Eventually a dawn will come.

23:00

In this stage, we jettison things that are not core, central and true and come to understand God in a better way.

BE WARNED: Others may feel anxious to get you back in to where you were.

24:00

Backsliding is not the same thing as a Dark Night experience. The Dark Night is progression.

24:30

Prophets in the OT go through the dark night times.

25:00

Using a different lens to see what is already there.

26:00

Examples:

Elijah after Mt Carmel

Apostle Paul

Job

Jesus (wilderness and Gethsemane)

Jesus “learned obedience” and the the will of God was not pleasant

We all go through these types of dark nights

 

28:00

John of the Cross’s work was (and is) written for [spiritual] guides (leaders) so they can recognize what is happening and to know what not to do.

30:00

Some mystical-style theologians have been hijacked and grafted into a different (sometimes New Age) model of how the reality is ( i.e. “divided self”.)

30:30

The Devil – So what about the Devil which is a prominent feature in the writings?

A CAUTION:

John takes the readers’ Christian theology for already granted. The basic Christian theology was assumed because that was the background and beliefs of his audience.

32:00

Doug answers…Devil with a Big “D” questions. How do we come to understand John and what he is saying, if it is different than our understanding of The Devil and the spiritual world?

Don’t rehabilitate [John], or superimpose our ideas on his work.

Don’t judge or put parts on trial for the embarrassing and difficult sections of St John of the Cross.

34:30

Approach the text thus: “Eat the meat of the fish not the bones”

35:00

If the language bothers you, then let it lie fallow and see what is going on in your own heart as you read.

35:30

We can learn from old text.

36:00

On intellectual honesty and intellectual humility

37:00

On why the devotional classics become that way.

37:30

On the reading of old books (C.S. Lewis) (click to read)

We have different blind spots now. Different mistakes in different times.

38:30

Our cultural and worldview will effect our beliefs.

39:00

How do we get through the Dark Night?

It is up to God as a Grace. Our only job is to remain faithful.

Father Francis Kelly Nemeck

41:00

The promise is (found in Scripture and from those who’ve gone ahead of us in the Faith) that we come out (into dawn) and see the value of what we went through.

God says to Job: I’m God and you are not.

Job says, “Now I have seen you. I spoke out of turn.”

42:00

A word of hope for those in the dark night.

1. Those in the dark night bless those around them and their pride does not effect this because of the Night itself. We are spiritual protected.

43:00

In the Dark Night we don’t get to be proud of our humility.

Be faithful know that God is using you and wait it out.

43:30

Modern example Mother Teresa. She lived most of her life with a sense of abandonment by God.

“If I ever become a Saint I will be a Saint of Darkness, facing the dark to guide souls to the light.”

44:00

People were drawn to her service and work for God even though she felt God’s silence.

45:00

On her critics who say she stopped believing in God.

Christopher Hitchens wrote slanderously about her and others in his book “The Missionary Position”. He said she did have the courage to admit publicly that she didn’t believe in God and never had.

46:00

Mother Teresa–her fruit shows otherwise (it’s sow belief and faithfulness).

Apostasy is a deliberate walking away from God which is a danger of misunderstanding the Dark Night. This is why trained and wise spiritual guides are essential.

47:00

C.S. Lewis character Screwtape urges: “Use the word “phase” to tell him he had it all wrong”

In a genuine Dark Night, we may think we have abandon God or want to and then find ourselves incapable of it.

48:00

Doubt in God is like holding a volleyball underwater with just one hand and senses all the force and then thinking there is no volleyball because it cannot be seen.

“We aren’t working without a net and we won’t fall out of the arms of God.”

49:00

If you are in the Dark Night…(it helps) remembering “it’s a thing, a documented thing”.

49:30

Walking in the footsteps of those who’ve gone before.

51:00

What to do if you are in the throes of it all. best advice.

Richard Foster’s advice in the Celebration of Discipline. The chapter on solitude.

Don’t try to explain this to people when you are in it.

(It’s like Fight Club) “The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about fight club”

Most people will not get it. It can hurt our spiritual reputation. God is drawing us into obedience and faith in the absence of feeling. We carry on

Spiritual Director or guide is very important.

“The Dark Night of the Soul” (click to get it free)

“The Way of Spiritual Direction”

“The Spiritual Journey: Crucial Thinking and Stages of Adult Spiritual Genesis”

Henri Nouwen “The Way of the Heart”

55:00

Protestantism running thin in certain areas.

Psychology tainted some spiritual experience as pathology and than co-opted with modern Christianity.

57:00

Baptists were not systematic theologians early on because of the persecution from the Mother Church (in Rome).

58:00

Puritan writers like Jonathan Edwards take God as Physician of the Soul very seriously.

59:00

The one sermon that did in Jonathan Edwards in our time.

“The Religious Affections” To teach that the Great Awakening was just an emotional experience or demonic experience. He writes on how to understand what is of God.


60:02

On taking your time understanding the Dark Night. God is trying to bring us into greater maturity and Christ likeness.


Have you ever gone through a Dark Night of the Soul?
If you’ve reached the dawn, what was strengthen or changed in you?

Blessings in your night travels. If you aren’t in a Dark Night, it’s coming. Stay Calm and Carry on.

If you have any questions or you would like to drop me a line about what you are going through, please use the contact page. A helpful (worldwide) listing to find qualified guides is here.

 

Special “Ask Sparky” Episode: Responses to 5 Burning Question

Special “Ask Sparky” Episode: Responses to 5 Burning Question


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Here, just the Father's beard could wipe out planet Earth
(Hey, God doesn’t have a body.)

Shownotes for the Special “Ask Sparky” Episode: Responses to 5 Burning Questions

MIN
1:30

1. It’s hard to pray to God as Father when you’ve had a bad dad. What should I do?

• How do we think about God? (usually like a human person or institution)

• God is Spirit not an old white man in the sky with a long beard.

What adjectives will help you connect with the Being typically called “God”

4:00

Hebrew word for God is a description too (yahweh “I am” a verb) that was not used. Adonai  was substituted and that simply means “Master/Lord” and is a term of respect.

4:30

It’s misguided to think that God can be contained or described well using a “Proper Noun”. God can’t be called a proper name/noun…like “Billy” (and that would make Jesus “Billy Jr.”).

Hebrew names are descriptive when referring to people (not how we use names to address people today).

5:00

YAHWEH (Hebrew word), means I AM (or “is”) and works like a verb denoting Presence an Love in Action. It defies typical proper names and descriptions.

5:50

2. On Forgiveness

“What should I do to forgive when I can’t forget?”

6:10

Forgiving is a continual process.

Thinking of forgiveness as transactional–a debt clearing mechanism. Be an accountant and don’t worry about your emotions being on the same page.

7:20

Remembering that you are not your thoughts.

8:00

What Justice is actually (Shalom). Making things right and reconciliation.

8:50

3. What to do about envying others (in this case writers in the field) and being jealous of their success.

9:15

Seeing the negative emotions as tools. Reframing them to use them to find our calling, gifts, and passions.

9:30

Not getting caught up in “should” and “oughts” and comparisons.

9:45

When you can say of your work, “Wow, I get to do this!” you can have enough gratitude to be comfortable with the success of others.

10:15

It’s common and normal to get feelings of jealousy. It’s only when the take over our hearts and mind do we need to reevaluate and recalibrate what we are doing and thinking.

11:00

Deciding that the options of other people and the opinions should have huge power is a choice we can change.

12:05

4. Getting over feeling guilt and shame that keeps resurfacing.

Daring Greatly Brene Brown (the difference between guilt and shame.

• Guilt is important so we can learn and correct and grow and become better people.

• Shame is a belief that something, un fixable, is wrong with you.

Shame whispers lies in your ears. Shame becomes a decision of who we are as person.

14:05

Being put to shame by parents and others.

14:50

A mistake isn’t part of who you are.

Redemption is always possible. You can start anew.

15:10

My caveat.

15:50

5. Church isn’t working for me anymore and I feel guilty leaving the church, but I don’t feel fed.

In the U.S. we often go to church as a consumers and look for what we can get out of it. Church can be piss poor.

17:00

Look for ways to give and minister and find connection in other ways.

18:00

For me, small groups were a starting point that lead me to seminary.

18:50

Bringing back the potluck and sharing life with people.

19:30

Sometimes we sense church isn’t “working” when meaningful connection is lacking.

20:30

“we” is better than “me”.


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