Of course, as you progress in the spiritual life, many of your thoughts want to help you toward God. They’re not evil. Most of them are good, but when it comes to real encounter with God they’re not best—just as a photograph of a sunset is good but not best. Even the most spectacular photograph misses the energy and awe your soul feels as the sun bids the day farewell in a blaze of light and color an artist can imitate but never duplicate. Thoughts about God, no matter how true are not God any more than a photograph by the most renowned artist is never a sunset.

The photo’s lovely if you cannot see the real thing, and in some ways it might even be more beautiful, but it will never replace the experience of standing in the presence of the radiant Sun that gives life to all things, enrapt in wonder.

For more meditations on the Daily Guide/Rule of Life, click on the blog category, “Daily Guide/Rule of Life”

Click here to read or pray the Daily Guide/Rule of Life

Posted
AuthorChris Neufeld-Erdman

I don’t want to move on to other spiritual teaching until I’m sure you understand what you’re really after. So, allow me a few more posts on the matters of the mind. You can look at the beauty of a sunset, but the moment you start thinking about how beautiful it is, as soon as you fumble for your camera or holler for your friend to take a look you’re no longer beholding the splendor before you . . .

Instead, you’re beholding your thoughts about the setting sun. You’re thoughts now stand between you and the beauty that first entranced you, a glory that simply invited you to be.

So it is with God and your thoughts about God.

For more meditations on the Daily Guide/Rule of Life, click on the blog category, “Daily Guide/Rule of Life”

Click here to read or pray the Daily Guide/Rule of Life

Posted
AuthorChris Neufeld-Erdman

I don’t always practice this inner spiritual discipline well. But when I do, something opens up to me I can’t fully explain in words. I can be in the midst of a busy restaurant and suddenly find myself so deeply aware that this moment and the person before me is everything.

Undistracted for at least this present moment, I’m fully here. Now. Nowhere else.

Not in my head. Not following a thought that’s carried me miles away to an obligation elsewhere.

Instead, I’ve slipped past the narrow gate guarded by my thoughts, and fallen into my heart—Eternity itself—where the fullness of God dwells. And this, at least for one timeless moment, is bliss. It’s an authentic experience of the gospel Jesus preached: “the kingdom of God is here, within you” (Luke 17.21). Now is the moment of salvation (2 Corinthians 6.1).

For more meditations on the Daily Guide/Rule of Life, click on the blog category, “Daily Guide/Rule of Life”

Click here to read or pray the Daily Guide/Rule of Life

Posted
AuthorChris Neufeld-Erdman
2 CommentsPost a comment

Here’s something I do as a concrete spiritual practice of the prayer of the heart: As thoughts and emotions come to me—luring me, enticing me, distracting me—I simply look at them one by one, penetrating each thought or emotion as fully as I can, and then I say, “Not this.”

Another rises immediately in it’s place and I say, “Not that.”

To yet another, I say, “Not now.”

If I’m in a meeting that demands my concentration or sitting over dinner with a loved one, I must do this quickly so that I don’t cease to be present. But if I’m sitting in prayer or meditation, I have the luxury of trying to discern where the thought or emotion came from, why it’s come to me now, what may have triggered it, whether or not God is inviting me to explore it or if it’s merely a distraction sent my way by a mind not yet ready to surrender to God.

The point is, I don’t want to blindly follow these thoughts; instead I want keep unhooking myself from them, disidentifying myself from them, putting some space between myself and these thoughts.

For more meditations on the Daily Guide/Rule of Life, click on the blog category, “Daily Guide/Rule of Life”

Click here to read or pray the Daily Guide/Rule of Life

Posted
AuthorChris Neufeld-Erdman

Unless you learn to hold your thoughts a safe distance from your heart, not only will your thoughts and emotions drive you day and night, but as you seek God in prayer, they’ll rise between you and the God you seek.  Even the best thoughts about God will stand-in as surrogates for God, mind-made idols jealous for your attention and affection (Exodus 20.4-6).  As John Milton put it so memorably: “The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n”.  With practice you’ll learn to turn your thoughts toward the living God (1 Thessalonians 1.9), and with the help of grace, make your mind a holy place.

For more meditations on the Daily Guide/Rule of Life, click on the blog category, “Daily Guide/Rule of Life”

Click here to read or pray the Daily Guide/Rule of Life

Posted
AuthorChris Neufeld-Erdman