My Prayer for 2018?

My Prayer for 2018?

This is definitely the time of year where we have family and friends coming to visit with us. As I have reflected on the Christmas story from Luke 1, it is filled with visits, some even from angels. Particularly, think about Gabriel who first visits Zachariah, then Mary.  These meetings have much in common: (a) the immediate response in both cases is fear with the instruction to “Fear not”; (b) then to each was an announcement of a miraculous birth in circumstances that were humanly impossible; (c) they both respond with a question but it is here that the differences begin to be magnified.

1. The Angel Gabriel visits Zechariah

Here are the facts of their story: (a) He and his wife were too old to have children (b) God heard their prayer for a child (c) He was told they would have a son and to name him John (d) He questioned: “How can I know this?”

2. The Angel Gabriel visits Mary

The facts of this visit are: (a) Mary was unmarried; (b) Mary was too young to have a child (in other words a virgin); (c) She was told she would have a son and to name Him Jesus; (d) She questioned: “But how can this happen?”

Despite the similarities of these visits, there is one significant difference: Zechariah questioned because he did not believe while Mary questioned because she did believe. Mary was interested in how this was going to happen, while Zechariah considered the obstacles and failed to recognize the presence of the Divine. He was then unable to speak until John was born. His focus was more on the limits of their age, rather than seeing how the ageless one could fulfill a promise through them. Many times our present reality can keep us from seeing all that God has purposed for us and desires to accomplish through us.

3. Mary Visits Elizabeth

(a) Mary greeted Elizabeth; (b) the baby kicked; (c) Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit; (d) She told Mary she was blessed for believing.

good newsThe speaking of words seems to be important enough that Elizabeth was prevented from hearing the words of unbelief that would have undoubtedly been spoken by Zechariah, and was instead greeted by Mary. Both Mary and Zechariah were visited by an angel. Zechariah didn’t believe despite having prayed for a child. Mary believed without having prayed for a child (at least I suspect that to be the case at this time in her life).

So what’s most important?  The believing, the praying or the saying? Zachariah didn’t believe, yet John was born. Mary didn’t pray to have a baby, yet Jesus was born. Also noteworthy is how Elizabeth declared Mary blessed because she believed. Mary’s belief is evidenced in the words she spoke, exactly as it is with all of us. We speak out of what fills our heart and belief is a function of the heart. Zechariah was unable to align his speaking with his prayer or the message spoken by the angel.

In many cases, the words we speak are based more upon our circumstances rather than on what we have prayed concerning that circumstance. We would do so much better if we speak according to the promises that God has given to us. The reality is the words we verbalize not only impact ourselves but also others who hear.

Here is an interesting statement in scripture: “At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”  We greet people all the time and we should consider what can happen within others when we speak to them. When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.

Mary’s words created joy, which is an example of how powerful our words can be. We can stir emotions and cause others to believe as we speak with them. Despite a divine encounter with two special individuals, one, who would regularly interact with his spouse, was prevented from speaking to Elizabeth, while the other, who believed, was moved to visit and inspire her.

Christmas Greetings are meant to be good news of great joy! If you are sensitive you will be moved to speak with many people in the year ahead. What will be the results of those meetings and interactions?

My prayer for 2018 is:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

Are You Hearing But Not Understanding?

Are You Hearing But Not Understanding?

Just over two years ago, I had surgery on my shoulder and I now visit a specialist every six months. Recently, I had another visit and I usually take my wife with me to help me understand since the doctor has a very strong French accent. Even though he speaks English, it can be very difficult to grasp the meaning of his words. During the appointment, he asked a question, but we just looked at each other bewildered because neither of us understood a word. He repeated it with the same result. He was saying “Ohh-ta-wah” in such a way that when it was placed in a sentence, we just couldn’t understand. After stating it the third time, we both realized he was asking if my surgery had been done here in Ottawa.

Have you ever heard someone but not understood what they said?

yesbymagnet_1Sometimes, language or dialect can be a barrier to understanding. I recall when we had friends from Ontario visit us in Newfoundland and we had a conversation with some locals. Our friends heard us speaking, but did not understand. Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked because the very tone of the common phrase, “Yes b’y,” actually changes its meaning.

The effort required to hear a sound compared to the effort required to process it, is exponential. Understanding is logically the step that follows hearing, unless, of course, it involves a politician.

prime-minister-trudeauPoliticians typically only say what they want us to hear and we have to dig deeper if we desire to get the entire meaning; otherwise our perspective remains limited. For example, the Trudeau government often claims it has cut taxes for middle-class Canadian families. A recent article helped me understand that while it did reduce the second lowest federal income tax rate (from 22 to 20.5 per cent), it also eliminated a number of tax credits, thereby increasing income taxes for Canadians who previously claimed such credits. Result: 81% of middle-class Canadian families with children are paying more in personal income taxes.

The Liberals quickly speak of reduced tax rates, but the elimination of tax credits enlightens our understanding of the issue. What we comprehend about any issue or even a person, depends on what we hear (and read).

perspectiveIf you think about it, the perspective from which you see things can be the very obstacle that prevents you from seeing another point of view.  (Doesn’t this graphic resemble a political debate? It totally depends on which side you are on).

The Bible has some interesting things to say regarding understanding:

  1. One instruction is to not depend on your own understanding. Maybe one of the reasons is that our own understanding limits our ability to understand others.
  2. Also, “By understanding He (The LORD) established the heavens.” What did God understand?  Was it an understanding of the power of sound and what is formed from vibrations? Maybe the reason God spoke was to cause vibrations to form the earth. What did He establish? Heaven represents an eternal dwelling place for believers. If God is an example for us then, the purpose of understanding is to establish something that is eternal and meaningful to others.
  3. Mankind has the capacity to understand the deeper things that are buried within a person. The purpose in a man’s mind is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.  If you think about your work, it may be important to understand others to bring clarity to them. Financial professionals can actually be a key to help clients see their inner purpose, why they have so much, or even why they have faced some troubles in life.
  4. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, so that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. Faith is not the opposite of reason, but actually a higher dimension of understanding. Think about the dreams within a person; they are actually unseen until exposed. If it is a dream of writing a book, it exists only in the mind of the author and only becomes visible when written.

In our work we should:

  1. realize “our own understanding” can be limited and should not always be relied on
  2. know we are called to establish something eternally significant through our lives
  3. understand others to expose the purpose that is often hidden deep within a person
  4. identify that faith can add a higher (or deeper) level of understanding

UnderstandingIn a conversation, an accountant told me he keeps his antennas raised when in discussion with clients. Since mankind is spiritual, our spirits are meant to be active and sensitive, which leads to an understanding of others. It is the spirit in man … that makes him understand. This depth of understanding is the requirement to draw out purpose.

In our efforts to understand others, how often do we simply rely on our own thoughts?  By ignoring our inner person (not having our antennas up), are we missing the greatest opportunities to explore the deep waters (purpose) hidden within others?

 

 

 

The Power of Sound

The Power of Sound

I had the opportunity to speak recently at a local church and chose to talk about the impact of our words. In essence, I began to walk through what words actually become as we speak them and the potential impact of those words on those who hear (including ourselves).

I quickly referenced Job 4:12-14 to demonstrate the path words take within us and how they are able to impact us. “A word was brought to me in secret; my ears caught a whisper of it. Among unsettling thoughts from visions in the night, when deep sleep descends on men, fear and trembling came over me and made all my bones shake.” We are truly complex creatures and what we hear impacts us more significantly than we realize.

If you look closely this verse reveals what words become:

  1. Firstly, “a word” was heard or became a sound.
  2. Then came “unsettling thoughts
  3. And “visions in the night,
  4. Which developed into “fear and trembling
  5. Finally it “made all my bones shake.

All this disruption came because of a whisper in the ears. How is this even possible?

The Power of Sound

Until I did some research, I didn’t realize that sound actually creates, organizes and forms all the basic fundamental shapes found throughout the known universe. For more than 50 years, scientists have proven this to be true. Interestingly, these forms are referred as “Sacred Geometry,” which is said to be a discovery of man, not his invention.

Take a look at an amazing video demonstrating the effects of sound being played underneath sand pebbles on a metal plate. The sound causes them to move and organize into geometric shapes and the higher the frequency the more complex the shapes (just watching for a minute will illustrate).

 

Sound is a type of energy made by vibrations. So if you think about throwing a rock in still water, the resulting rings of waves are similar to the effects of sound. It is interesting that irregular sound waves create noise, while regular repeating waves create music.

Researchers have also discovered that we pay more attention when an emotion (such as happiness, sadness or anger) is expressed through vocalizations than we do when the same emotion is expressed in speech. So sound itself then, may be more powerful than we typically give it credit. Have you heard the proverb: “a joyful heart is good medicine?” If you stop and consider how joy is expressed, it is usually in the form of laughter (maybe some of the healing is through the sound itself).

Consider our lives at times; there can be so many different inputs with emotional attachments (like anger and frustration) and the result is often noise. Joy, on the other hand, is medicine because it produces regular repeating sound waves, having an impact that is like music to our ears!

Elba Mueller explains the Power of Sound  by referencing one of the most amazing experiments, conducted by Doctor Masaru Emoto, who gained worldwide acclaim for his groundbreaking research and his discovery that water is affected by vibrational sound in some very surprising ways.

When I read this, my immediate thought was about creation (in Gen. 1), when “the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” I’m thinking those waters were affected by the vibrational sound because “God said.”  It seems the sound of God’s voice resulted in the earth changing from empty to being filled.

In his experiments, Dr. Emoto analyzed the formation of differently shaped crystals in water as it was exposed to different sounds in different forms. Part of his research included verbal affirmations, thoughts, music, and even prayers from a priest. He focused on verbal affirmations of love and gratitude as they were being directed toward water that was sitting in a Petri dish. He then analyzed the water under a microscope and took before and after pictures to document the change.

pay attentionDr. Emoto and his team observed that after the experiment very beautiful crystals had formed in some of the frozen water samples where the positive vibrational waves were directed. Dr. Emoto then exposed water samples to music from Mozart, Beethoven, and other classical composers and found that beautiful crystal shapes formed in these samples as well.

He also experimented with people saying things like “you fool,” “I will kill you,” and other unpleasant phrases using a harsh tone. Dr. Emoto found that ugly, incomplete, and malformed crystals were formed in the water samples exposed to these negative expressions and tones.

 

Dr. Emoto concluded that any sound is vibration, and vibrations such as music and other positive sounds including the human voice can be a form of healing energy.

Here is what I find fascinating: on a 3D level the body is more than 70% water. If crystals formed in water from sound vibrations, then it seems pretty clear that the sounds and words we hear impact our bodies. Think about your words and the tone used expressing these words. I think it is fair to say that the vibrations we make when we speak are either forming something beautiful or something ugly, incomplete or malformed in those who hear.

When you talk with your children, spouse, neighbours, clients or colleagues; what impact is the sound of your words having? Are they building up or tearing down?