The Scientific Method calls this testing. The Bible even says to "test all things." 1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
I took action. I began putting the instructions in the Bible to the test in real life experiences. This took some time and I mean years, but I learned how to do it, and found joy, peace, and love.
Continuing in such action requires a commitment to do things unfamiliar and uncomfortable. This takes desire, willingness, awareness, and diligence or in other words, all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. God is right here waiting for us to join the experience with righteousness, goodness, grace, love, peace, and joy. Yet we must choose to seek, obey, and act in ways foreign to our understanding.
I love kids, the way they explore, test, question, and experience things. Sometimes I intentionally do what I see kids do to experience what they are experiencing. I've stuck my tongue out in the rain, played legos & candy land, and sat on the ground with them playing in sand. There is an invisible world that exists within our working, sharing, and playing together, with which we are called to participate and build. This world has everything to do with the Kingdom of God.
Active learning is to participate and experience. Instead of reading, observing, or talking about information and ideas, we put them into practice and evaluate what happens within our minds, hearts, and relationships.
Those of us who love to talk can learn to practice listening. We may have a lot to offer, but we must realize sharing from our hearts is part of spiritual development and others may need to talk too. As we relate together through our experiences we can help each other. Being a responsive listener is a powerful part of the process.
Those of us who do not like to talk can practice speaking. We must learn to share our truth, even if it's messy or doesn't seem to make sense. Formulating our experience into words can help us to understand things better. Explaining things brings learning much deeper. We ought to take time to reflect upon and explain our experiences with others.
When I was growing up, I was disciplined by family, friends, and teachers. Yet there was an inward part of me that was disciplining me throughout my life, which I did not understand until I was told to look at it. The inward motivations of fear, envy, pride, vanity, lust, greed, and the like were nudging me toward responsive thoughts and actions the whole way. Fear taught me to hide my feelings, pain, and affection. When I was weak, others would poke at my weak spots. When I was vulnerable, others would take advantage of me. When I was trusting, I was exploited. I learned to guard, protect, and hide my softer side. Such guarding and protecting slowly became a prison for my heart and soul. I learned not to feel, because caring meant deep sorrow and regret.
Being reborn meant a new discipline was needed. I was taught to trust God, be honest, and look inwardly at my heart and soul to uncover the mechanisms that blocked me from God. I was told to get down to the causes and conditions of my fear, self-pity, and anger. New regular action was needed to develop a new spiritual discipline. Each day I was to participate with an inward spiritual focus at increasing levels to discover spiritual truth. I was to live with a kingdom awareness, seeking to develop love, peace, mercy, compassion, justice, truth, forgiveness, generosity, and the like.
Every system has a structure. We need structure. In our spiritual growth, which is individual, we need to develop frequent prayer with God to sense what God wants us to do. We can listen to our inward senses, evaluate reality around us, think of God's character, collaborate with our spiritual family for feedback and then make decisions based upon all the information that can best fit with God's ways.
At first, our seeking contact with God may seem unproductive. Our prayers may feel empty. Our meditation may seem like a waste of time because we do not instantly understand the benefits. It's like going to the gym one day and waking up the next day expecting to be in good shape. Development takes participation and time. We will need to develop patience, perseverance, and endurance to see what happens. Use a mentor through the process and stick it out.
We can evaluate and quantify the level of participation we are applying. If I go to the gym every day and hit treadmill for 10 seconds that would be good. Of course some people around me who do much more than that would think I was silly. Yet in all practicality I can say I go to the gym every day and I hit the treadmill. I could even add reading every day about running, but that wouldn't help my conditioning. It's a simple fact that what really matters in conditioning is how much time I'm on the treadmill. But wait, what if I spend 30 minutes on the treadmill every day, but it's not moving? I'm still on it longer! So time and participation are important, but so is new and improved action. Am I going to raise the bar? To grow our condition requires time, participation in new action that challenges us, and we ought to keep challenging ourselves to grow.
I don't have time can be an easy out. We can ask God how to help with that. It can go something like this, "Hey God, I know you want my 'all,' but I'm pretty busy right now. Can you please help satisfy my wants and expectations the way I want it to happen so I can give you more time?
The bottom line is that God wants us to be with God. God doesn't exist to satisfy our wants and preferences. God can lead us into Godly experiences if we participate with God's character at a level which can shape and condition our minds and hearts. And like any form of conditioning we will need to follow a structure to grow. See Deuteronomy 6, how to practice the first commandment or John 15.
Willingness to create and follow a plan is essential.
I used to run some groups and one of the first things we would do would be an emotional check in. New people would often be very challenged to describe how they felt. Many of us just don't look inward to see what lies within us.
God is an invisible and intangible entity alive and active within and around us. God is Spirit which we all have access to if we can only look long enough with our inward senses to find God. Emotions and how the way we think affects our feelings are essential to understand. The more we can understand this better we can understand what the Bible is describing. Remember, God is love and compassion. We cannot sense love or compassion without being attentive toward our inward parts.
We may need some help identifying feelings if we have not done it before. Through continued self-evaluation of our feelings we can improve our ability to see and understand our inward condition as we experience and grow God's character.
As we set structure we will need to seek an attitude of humility and willingness to come to God with our minds and let God teach us. In order for us to learn what God is teaching we will need to pay close attention to God's principles within our experiences.
We can practice and participate with love, compassion, patience, peace, mercy, forgiveness, truth, and justice. Humble sincerity in our actions with a willingness to learn new things can be of great help.
In order follow God we must seek with our God senses. We can't follow light blindfolded or sound with our ears plugged. We must set our minds toward God's spiritual truth, mercy, forgiveness, peace, justice, and love each day. As we get distracted we can redirect ourselves.
Loving God involves thinking about God and trying to be more like Christ.
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