THEME: THE HEART, THOUGHTS AND CONTEMPLATION
QUOTE: “Faith exists only in the imagination. In that sphere which the mind is able to comprehend, the concept of faith cannot exist.” ~ Rebbe Nachman
POEM: Waves of Light by Rumi.
PSALM 32: God-Who-Envelops-In-Chessed/Lovingkindness
CREATIVE EXPRESSION: Find pictures; draw your own; sketch; write down any other Scripture verses and/or quotes that will illustrate and express the theme and what you are learning and experiencing this month.
IYYAR – Heart – Thoughts
Paul writes in Romans 14:17-19 that the kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Ruach HaKodesh – the Spirit of Holiness. A friend pointed out that this is a progression. Righteousness (holiness) leads to Peace (Shalom – shalem -wholeness) and Peace leads to Joy. The greater our righteousness, the greater will be our peace, and, in turn, the greater will be our joy.
The question then is, “How do we become more righteous – more holy, and thus more whole and more deeply joyful?” The process requires Tikkun – healing, rectification, restoration.The key to Tikkun is the reality and power of our Father’s Infinite Love.
The body part we are focusing on during the month of Iyyar is the heart – lev (לב). The Psalm for the month is Psalm 32, which number, interestingly, is the numerical value of lev – ל = 30 and ב = 2.
The heart is the seat, as it were, of the emotions and the organ we most associate with love. What emotion do we commonly consider as the opposite of love? In my research I [Keren] came across the interesting concept that the opposite of love is not hate but Fear! If one digs deeper into the roots of hatred one can discover that hate is a manifestation of fear. It turns out that most negative emotions we experience, such as pain, grief, anger, resentment, depression, and guilt, are all rooted in, and are forms of, fear. When true love and real peace are allowed in these negative emotions disappear – just as darkness does when light shines in.
Another interesting idea, according to Dr. Gerald Jampolsky, (formerly on the faculty of the University of California’s Medical Center, and author of Love is Letting go of Fear) is that, “Love and peace are so interwoven that they never can be used separately.” To be able to experience the enveloping love of God in our lives, we must allow peace in our hearts, and, vice versa, to experience true peace, we must open our hearts to the love of God.
We can apply this concept – the reality and power of our Father God’s love, and the Shalom that accompanies it, in many different scenarios. Even politically. For example, a core issue in the ‘Middle East Conflict’ is the desperate attempt to devise a “Peace Plan” between Israel and so-called Palestine. This seems doomed to failure. Why? Because peace and love are interwoven with the light of Truth. The three realities must work together. Picture a three-legged stool – with peace, love and truth as the legs. Remove one leg and the stool will topple. It cannot stand. Any relationship, whether between friends, family, spouses, political partners, etc, must be based on all three – truth, love, and peace, then the relationship will have a base upon which it can grow and endure. Without the three working together in harmony, the fruit will only be fear, hatred, and violence in one form or another.
We all naturally want to be happy, healthy, and productive human beings. During this ‘Being Holy, Being Whole’ series, we are aiming to take gentle and manageable steps to clear our minds, nurture our spirits, and to strengthen our bodies. Now is the time, as we contemplate upon the theme of Thoughts and the Heart, to make the decision to respond in love rather than in fear to any situation or circumstance in our lives. How do we do this? Remember the three-legged stool!
First, each thing needs to be brought into the light of truth – the warm, holy light of God’s loving truth; not a harsh interrogation spotlight! This is where the vital link between our thoughts and our hearts comes into play. Our thoughts and imagination are powerful and feed what we believe in our hearts. They are the interface or bridge, as it were, between the physical and spiritual – our bodies and souls. Our thoughts and imagination are the source of our creative ability and can raise us up to spiritual heights or drag us down to the depths of sin and degradation.
The mind is a battleground and the apostle Paul refers to our godly thoughts and beliefs as ”weapons” of our spiritual warfare. He exhorts us to: “…destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive in obedience to Messiah” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We can only “destroy the strongholds” of the enemy if our minds are filed with the knowledge of God and the truth of His Word, as patterned and exemplified in His Son and Messiah Yeshua.
Raynna, in this month’s video, challenges us to contemplate and answer God’s question to Adam, “Ayeka? Where are you?” Of course God knew Adam’s physical location. The deeper question is: “Where are you now in your relationship with Me?” Are we separated and distant from Him or are we peacefully enfolded in His loving Presence as we rest in the assurance of His truth.
According to His Word, the first basic, foundational truth to grasp is the assurance that you are a child of God, precious in His sight. Secondly, you are not a bad person or a failure for having problems or having made mistakes and, as a result, are unloved and being punished. Thirdly, you are unique and have a purpose in God’s plan that only you can fulfil. Finally, He always is there when you call or reach out for Him.
These truths are beautifully illustrated in Yeshua’s parable of the merciful father and his prodigal son (Luke 15). The son, who had insulted and disregarded his father, left home and wasted the inheritance he had demanded from his father, and ended up in a pigsty.
As soon as he woke up to his mistake, and saw the results of his bad choices, he truly repented in his heart. He turned around in humility and, willing to admit his error and to work as a servant, he decided to return to his father. What was the father’s response? It was the same as our Father in Heaven’s when we repent of sinning against Him and causing Him pain. The father was waiting and constantly watching for his child and, when he saw him far off on the road, went running to meet him. He embraced him with great joy. He took him home, dressed him in beautiful robes, gave him a ring of authority, and celebrated his return with a huge feast!
Mistakes and pain come and go in life. They are a great means of learning and growing. It’s when we get stuck in our pain, as it were, or bury it and ignore it, that it becomes detrimental to our well-being and growth. Nobody likes pain. Children are able to cry, and even throw a tantrum, to naturally express their pain, and then let it go and move on to new experiences. If children grow and mature in a healthy environment, they learn that there are better ways of dealing with pain. However, if our childhood environment was not loving and healthy, we develop negative coping strategies to deal with our pain. We can repress our feelings, or deny and run away from them. We can even close down our heart and be unwilling to trust or to try new things, all in order to avoid suffering heartbreak, rejection, or failure. Another negative result of being stuck in one’s pain, is that a person can get so used to living with their pain that the thought of being without it scares them; making it almost impossible to let it go.
So, what can one do? Whether our pain is from childhood or from an experience this week, we need first of all to face it – be aware of it. We can begin to notice familiar patterns of pain. Then we need to bring it into the light of God’s truth and love. Then we can gently let go of any hurt, hatred, bitterness, guilt, resentment, and release them into our Father’s outstretched hand, which always is there ready and waiting. As we allow His healing love and peace to flow in and displace the pain, we can go forward – joyfully reconnected to the source of His life. Then, we must determine to keep moving forward. Each new day, each new moment, our response can be one of love and peace. Sometimes it may be difficult, but the more we embrace the reality of our Father’s Love, the more we will understand that it is far more powerful than our own pain or guilt, as well as the other person’s behavior and guilt.
In every situation, the only meaningful choice we have is between fear and love. Let us choose to fill our thoughts with truth and righteousness, and our hearts with love. Then we will be filled with the joy of Adonai, which is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). As Yeshua described in his parable of the master and those servants who had served him faithfully, the master proclaims: “Well done, good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things; enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23).
IYYAR – PSALM 32
Aim to identify individually with the content of the Psalm in a deep and meaningful way and attempt to apply it to oneself – to find one’s self in the psalm. May our lives become harps that play the songs of God.
Write out the verses that deeply touch you and express your responses to the Psalm.
The first two verses are an expression of the “joy of deliverance” – the happiness experienced with the realisation that one’s sin is not only forgiven but is completely washed away as if it had not happened. Such is the power of the forgiveness of our Father in Heaven when we confess our sins and repent. We can see how the the prodigal son of Yeshua’s parable clearly reflects the dire scenario of the Psalmist. His confrontation with and confession of the sin, and repentance of it, is the turning point. No sin is greater than God’s infinite love and forgiveness and, once truly repented of, one’s life can be centered in the Father’s Loving Presence and not in the pain of shame and guilt.
As verse 10 beautifully describes: “Many are the troubles of the wicked, but one who trusts in Adonai will be enveloped by Chessed / Lovingkindness.” His loving Presence surrounds one constantly and, as a result, one can joyfully sing His praise:
“Rejoice in Adonai! Exult, righteous ones! Shout for joy, all who are upright in heart!” (v.11)
Even if you are suffering or in pain, your preciousness to God cannot be diminished. Nothing can cancel the truth of your being loved. Your Father’s face is toward you and His eye is on you every moment. When your trust is in the God of Love you are surrounded by His steadfast love that never wavers. There is no need to fear, for He constantly reminds us, “Fear not, for I am with you always!”
Poem to Ponder for Iyyar
Write it in your journal and jot down any thoughts.
Waves of Light by Rumi
You are ‘there’, I ‘here’
Worlds separate us
the void of space…
Yet I say Your Name,
and waves of Light
Wash to me silently
from Your Heart.
JOURNALING – CHIDUSHIM
The Hebrew word chidushim means new insight and thoughts; fresh inspiration. During this year’s monthly cycle – Being Holy Being Whole – we are encouraging each other to keep a journal and to express our thoughts, ideas, sketches, pictures, doodles – whatever, in order to give expression to the chidushim in our hearts and minds.
Before you start journaling remember the blessing: “Blessed are You O Lord our God, I dedicate the work of my hands to Your glory and I ask for Your inspiration and anointing upon it. Amen”
You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Yeshua affirms this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Take 5 minutes or so and write spontaneous answers to the following questions:
- Loving wholeheartedly involves loving God, loving yourself, and loving others. What are your strengths and weaknesses in this regard?
- To build authentic connection in one’s relationship with God and others takes courage – to be who you are, compassion – towards yourself and others, and vulnerability – a full awareness of your value and worth as one who is unique and precious in God’s eyes that enables you to reach out in love without guarantee of reciprocity.
Where do you stand in these three areas?
- Based on what we learned, if you could give yourself one small but practical piece of advice to help you grow in this area – something you can intentionally implement during the month ahead, what would it be?
When we love with all our hearts we can…
~Keren Hannah Pryor
In this month’s video, HIS-ISRAEL friend RAYNNA MYERS shares how she finds creative expression with thoughts from her heart.