How do you measure your Spiritual Intelligence?

We mostly have heard people talk about mental intelligence. Intelligence that reflects our cognitive ability to do what we want to do. Emotional intelligence has also gained popularity reflecting our emotional state needed in order to accomplish what we want to accomplish. For example, a steady emotional state helps us to stay calm under pressure. Our emotional state is also often reflected in our relationships. How well do we get along with others, especially those different from us? How well can we partner and collaborate with others to produce a successful product or outcome, whether it is at work, church, at home with family or with an organization.

Another form of intelligence is Spiritual Intelligence. Many have talked about different ways to define spiritual intelligence. However, I define Spiritual Intelligence quite simply. Spiritual Intelligence consists of four factors:

1. Our level of desire to hear from God;

2) The work that we contribute to hear from God, how often do we pray, talk to Him? How often do we meditate, listening to Him? How often do we read His Word?

3. How well do we hear from Him? What is our level of accuracy? When we think that He told us to do something, how often are we correct?

4. What is our commitment to action when we hear from Him? How obedient are we?

Our mental intelligence is only as important as our Spiritual Intelligence. Our emotional intelligence is only as significant as our Spiritual Intelligence. How important is it to do something well with great skill and steadiness if it is the wrong thing to do?

P.S.  The desires of our heart and this world are fleeting, whereas whatever comes from God, whatever joy He gives to you- is forever (1 John 2:17).

Six Ways to Meditate

We often hear people talk about the benefits of Meditation. Meditation is very beneficial:

  • Meditation helps you to receive guidance from God.

  • Meditation calms you and helps to reduce stress.

  • Meditation lowers the risks of many diseases including heart disease and high blood pressure

  • Meditation decreases the impact of ADHD on performance and behavior.

    There are several benefits of meditating. However, we often discuss only one way to meditate.  We often think of someone sitting with their legs crossed and their eyes closed when meditating. This is definitely a good way to meditate; closing the eyes especially helps you to relax, in addition to taking deep breaths.  However, there are other ways to meditate as well.

  1. As mentioned earlier being still in solitude is definitely a beneficial way to meditate and help you to bring peace upon yourself.

  2. You can use God’s Word to meditate. You can select your favorite Bible verse or the Bible verse most appropriate for you in the moment to recite repeatedly in order to remind yourself, increase your faith on it or to call onto God.

  3. You can use music to meditate. Sometimes I’ll meditate on a certain praise song several times. For example, Captain of my ship by Oleta Adams is a beautiful song that reminds me of how beautiful God’s love is and how important it is to keep Him in control of my life. The melody of the song is just as soothing as the words. Music is a very powerful tool in meditation.

  4. You can use your body to meditate. By focusing on every part of your body you can meditate on the feeling in your toes up to the top of your head. This helps you to tune in to yourself. This type of meditation is often used when praying for healing of certain body parts unto God.

  5. You can meditate with movement. Some people couple meditation with Yoga in order to focus on body movements as a way to center the mind and emotions. You can also use walking or running as way to meditate on your movement and center your mind and emotions.

  6. Once you become really advanced, you can meditate doing anything. You can focus on God and being still during any part of your day, whether at work, home or in the grocery store. Meditating is exercising the muscles of your mind, spirit and emotions.

    P.S. Be still and know that He is God. Psalm 46:10


The Danger of Multi-Tasking

The Dangers of Multi-Tasking

Often, we think that we are saving time when we multi- task. We see it as being productive, when we really are less effective and successful at what we are doing. We are spreading our efforts across many and taking out the best of all of them.

The other day, I caught myself feeding my baby while watching television and working on the computer, all at the same time. I found my energy feeling tension and confusion and realized that I was doing too much.

When we multi-task, we are telling God that He has not given us enough time to get what we need. Clearly, God has given me all that I need. So I need to be more appreciative of that when allocating my time.   

When we multi-task, we are hurting ourselves.

1. We are cluttering our minds and making it more difficult to hear God’s regular messages to us. We’re saying to God, “We got this.” We take control at doing our millions of things while we drown Him out. 

2. Secondly, we are not enjoying the moment. We need to stop and smell the roses. We cannot do that if we’re speeding by the roses, honking and blasting loud music all at the same time.   I was ashamed when I realized that I was doing so much while feeding my new little one, not taking that moment to enjoy the miracle that God has provided. We must assess what is important for us to do and do it and get rid of the unimportant distractions. In that moment, my baby was hunger so clearly that was the activity of importance. Watching TV and doing whatever on the computer clearly could wait.  

3. We risk making dangerous decisions when we multitask. We think that the hundreds of decisions that we make each day are small decisions, where to eat, what to eat, with whom to eat, what to wear… When we have no idea, in fact, how one “small” decision will become a large decision and lead to something else. They are not small decisions, but in fact quick decisions. That is why it is important to pray without cease, to constantly listen to God for direction. He may tell you not to have lunch with person who may want to do you harm. Or He may tell you to wear yellow on that day because you’re going to meet the love of your life whose favorite color is yellow. When we hear from God often, every message doesn’t make sense to us, nor does it need to do so. However, we need to listen. Multitasking makes that very difficult.

P.S. “It is useless; it is like chasing the wind. It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to always want something else.” Ecclesiastes 6:9

7 Benefits of Gratitude

We often hear people talk about gratitude. For some, it’s no more than a fluffy sentiment. For me, gratitude is a powerful tool. There are many benefits to experiencing and expressing gratitude. I say, you should always squeeze the lemon juice out of your lemons. We all have lemons in our lives. We all have those bad events, environments, or situations that are less than desirable, to say the least. What is true, however, is that there is good in everything, just as there is lemon juice in every lemon. We have all heard people referencing the phrase, seeing things as a glass half empty or half full. The fact of the matter is that sometimes we see the glass as not half empty or half full. Sometimes we see it as mostly empty or mainly full. Regardless of the situation, there is always a way to identify the blessing in anything.  I want to talk about seven reasons why we should always express gratitude and be thankful. Though, I am sure that there are far more than that. However, I am going to discuss seven of them.

Firstly, gratitude is a gift that you give to yourself. When you are thankful you put a smile on your face, because you are letting the joy inside of you that is connected to the positive that you have received. You can receive something positive but refuse the joy that can come with it. People do it every day. Gratitude allows you to experience that joy. For example, you can have a puppy that has accidents in your house three times a day. You may experience misery from the puppy’s accidents throughout your house as it gets trained. Or you may exercise the power to focus on how cuddly, the puppy is, how loyal the puppy is to you, or how the puppy warns you of danger. You may experience joy thinking about the companionship and security that the puppy provides. However, it is up to you to receive that joy. The same applies to your personal relationships. You can appreciate your spouse and be happy for the companionship that you receive. Or you can only choose to focus on the dishes left in the sink. If you have a loved one who is ill, you can focus on their sickness and their pain or you can focus on the time that you have with them to say whatever you want to say and hear from them whatever they want to say. You can focus on the hugs that you can give them and the warmth that you can provide for each other. Gratitude is a gift of Joy that you choose to give to yourself.

The second reason for gratitude is the gift that you give to others. When someone says “thank you” to you, it makes you feel a certain way. It makes you feel appreciated and sometimes even loved. It validates your actions. It rewards your efforts. That is a gift that you can give to others.

The third reason for gratitude is to receive the lessons that gratitude teaches you. In all bad things there are lessons. In all good things in life, there are lessons as well. We usually only want the good things in life. However, often times when we get the good things in life, we are lazy about learning the lessons that come with them. Sometimes, it takes the bad things for us to accept the lessons that we need to learn. Sometimes the bad things are the only ways that we can experience the best joy possible. For example, when we miss a flight, and spend the night in the airport hotel or even the airport itself, it helps us to appreciate our homes that we often take for granted or our loved ones that we see every day. Gratitude affords us the opportunity to realize that it could have been worse.

The fourth reason for gratitude is to make the world a better place. When you pass gratitude to others, they are your witness of how beautiful that behavior is and they pass it on to someone else. It creates a harmonious chain of love. You teach others how to show love in a simple way. When you are around children, you teach children how to show love in a simple way. Gratitude is one of the easiest ways to reciprocate love and positive feelings.

The fifth reason why gratitude is so important is because it helps you to smell the roses and enjoy life more deeply and more often. When we appreciate what we have, we spend more time with it; we spend more time with them. We stop and smell the beautiful roses in our lives, whether the roses are actual roses made up of different colors, red, yellow and white, or the roses metaphorically represent family members and friends. We appreciate what is in sight; we spend more time enjoying those roses and less time chasing after the wind.

The sixth reason why gratitude is so important is because it helps us to get more in the future.  The more we show our appreciation for gifts that God gives us, the more gifts he wants to give to us. Just as when someone you love shows appreciation for something that you give, you want to give them more, because you know that it makes them happy. So open your arms to more gifts by expressing your gratitude to God today.

The seventh reason that we should express gratitude is because every single breath that we take is a privilege. Not one month, one day, one minute or second is promised to any of us. Just as we celebrate the miracle of a baby being born, we should celebrate every breath that we get to take on this earth. Every breath is a gift from God. We should continuously thank God for the gift of each breath, because we want to continue to receive the gift of breath, which is life.
Please show your gratitude every day. Start your day by giving God thanks. This is the day that the Lord has made. We shall rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).

Time v. Energy

There is continuous hoopla about the value of time. Is time all that they say that it is cracked up to be? Is it really that important? After all, we don't talk about time the way that we talked about money? We don't go after time the way that we go after money? I'm here to say that time is absolutely important! If you have time, it enables you to do the things that you want to do and allows you to learn how to do the things that you do not know how to do or, to which you not yet have access. However, energy is vitally important, yet often ignored. Why is energy overlooked so often when it is so important for us to do what we want to do in this life? It is overlooked because time is easier to grasp. We can measure time. We understand that if ask anyone else on this earth, they will agree that one hour equals 60 minutes. They will agree that 60 seconds equals 1 minute. We are simple creatures by nature. By habit, we gravitate to what we can see and measure. We perceive things we see as easier to accept in reality, and therefore easier to control and understand. If we gave ourselves the chance, we would recognize that we have just as much control over our energy and I would argue more control over our energy than we do our time. Our energy comes from many sources. What we choose to entertain in our minds influence our level and power of our energy. What we choose to feel with our emotions or perceive with our senses dictate the strength of our energy. The people who we choose to have relationships with, indirectly influences our energy. Many of us believe that our relationships have a direct influence on our energy. It simply is not true. When someone behaves the way that they choose to behave, there is a moment an intermediate force if you will that we own. And that moment, we choose to have a relationship or not have a relationship with that person. We choose to deem what that person says or does as important or choose to perceive what that person says or does as unimportant. We assess the level of interaction and level of importance that each and every person will have in our lives. Therefore, no relationship has a direct influence on our energy. There is one exception of course, and that is in the instance where your physical world has been controlled and therefore kidnapped by someone else. Now let's get to the importance of energy and why energy is truly so powerful. I can share an instance of one day when I was completing the book, Journey to Authentic Joy; I had so much energy that day. It felt as if I was placing 200 words a minute on that page. As I was working I received a call that contained very bad news from someone close to me. All of a sudden, I felt like the energy that overflowed abundantly from me, had dissipated within seconds. I stopped writing to lie down and thankfully started to pray. I let my flesh and anxiety get the best of me. I woke up that morning as an undefeated warrior to end up weak and frail as a doe preyed upon with a bow and arrow.
I decided to go take a drive in the country, because it's always easier for me to revamp my energy surrounded by God's most natural gifts. As I drove to the most abandoned and desolate rural areas of Georgia, I felt the safest that I could possibly feel. Beautiful tall green trees were everywhere coupled with thick, ever flowing green blades of grass. The sky was a beautiful powder blue with yellow sun rays shining brightly.  The day truly could not have been any more beautiful. I felt as if I could stay there forever. I could not. Or more accurately, I would not. However, what I would do was to bring that peace with me out of those woods. I would decide that I would choose to meditate on God's great gifts on this earth and give less attention to the things I could not control.

The way that we choose to see and use energy is up to us. At any given moment in any given time we have the access and power to greater energy. Our energy is going to dictate what we can do, how clearly we can think, and how quickly we can do what we do. It gives us the ability, speed, and endurance. Our energy will dictate how much we achieve and the level of quality, to which we achieve it.
While there are many elements that have only an indirect influence on our energy, that level of indirect influence can be grand. It is very important that we use whatever power and control that God gives us to manage those indirect influences effectively and be able to optimize our energy level to accomplish what we want to do.
Therefore, choose your relationships wisely. Choose your environments wisely. Choose your activities wisely. Have intention with what you eat and how you exercise. Use intention by gravitating to those people, ideas and places that bring joy and positive energy to you. Use intention by distancing yourself from people, ideas and places that consistently decrease your level of positive energy.
God has ordained you as the captain of your ship. Use the authority that He has given you to paint the most magnificent masterpiece of your life with the colors that are in your palette.

Five Steps to Holistic Renewal

There comes a time, for most of us, many times, when we look at our lives and realize that something is just not right or something needs to be realigned.  We realize that something is missing or we are doing too much of something that is taking too much of our time.  Ultimately, we realize that whatever is wrong, whatever is misaligned, needs to be evaluated and corrected in order for us to fulfill our greatest achievements and efforts in life for today and the subsequent future.  

I want to talk about five steps to obtaining holistic renewal in our lives. There are many elements of our lives that when they are misaligned, they negatively interfere with the other aspects of our lives. The five elements that I want to discuss today include our mind the mental area, our spiritual area and relationship with God, our physical area including what we intake and what we exert also known as diet and exercise, and our social area also known as our relationship with others. If any of these areas are messed up or off- balance it will affect other areas.

Let's talk about the first step. Our mental makeup is considered by most to be the ultimate navigation for everything that we do. I do know that it is a large influence on everything that we do. It is important that the intentions that we have in our minds are aligned with the actions that we take and the decisions that we make. It is important that our energy focus remains consistent with the goals that we have decided in our mind. If we do not take the time, effort, and energy to place intentions in our minds and make decisions regarding those intentions we will be very confused and live very passive, disoriented, unorganized, and possibly dysfunctional and low achieving lives. So the first step in holistic renewal is to review our intentional life goals. If we cannot identify our intentional life goals then that means that we need to develop such intentional goals for our lives, which may include placing intention toward where we are already giving our energy and efforts.  Our intentions should be aligned with how we spend our time and give our energy.

The second step for holistic renewal is to conduct a spiritual inventory of ourselves. We can do this by asking ourselves certain questions and exploring our responses. How is our relationship with God currently? When was the last time that we spoke with him? When was the last time that we listened to God? How often do we speak to God? How often do we listen to God? When was the last that we took the effort to thank God and show our gratitude for what He has given us? Other important questions include: how authentic are we living our lives? Does the way we spend time align with what we claim to be the important priorities in our lives? Do we do what we say is important to do? Do we refrain from doing what we say is important for us not to do? Are we honest with others regarding what is important to us? Regarding what we do? Does our character, our regular habits reflect what we believe that they should reflect? Do we have the right balance in our lives? Are we placing the right value on people and things in our lives, in the right order?

The third step is to take an inventory of our physical intake. That is referring to our diet, what we normally eat. Many people have different rules regarding what they choose to eat on a regular basis. Some people eat whatever and whenever their heart and emotions desire. Some people do not eat meat. Some people do not eat certain types of meat, for example beef or pork. Whatever physical intake/ diet you choose should align with the goals that you choose for your life. For example, if you need eat 500 more calories than your body needs, your goal should be to have a heavier physical package. If you choose to eat 500 fewer calories a day than your body physical makeup needs, then your goal should be to have a physical makeup that is malnourished and lacking full strength and energy. There are health risks when under eating and/or overeating. When we make a decision to do either one, we are saying that we accept the health risks associated with our respective choices.

There are many types of food to eat, including meat protein, non- meat proteins, vegetables, fruit, starches, refined carbohydrates, fiber, milk products and other types of foods. It is important to be aware of how these different types of foods affect our body. There are general benefits and cons to eating any of these and definitely cons to eating too much. Every person's body is different. Therefore, some of our bodies are more sensitive to some of these foods than others. Some of us may even be allergic to some of these foods. It is important to observe and study how your body reacts to these different foods so that you know the best way for you to eat and how much of them. What balance of foods gives you the most energy? What balance of foods gives you the body makeup that is healthy for you?

The fourth step of holistic renewal is taking inventory of our physical exertion. How often do we exercise? Some people need to exercise three times a week. Some people need to exercise five times a week. Some people need to exercise for an hour a day. Some people need to exercise for 30 minutes a day. It is important to exercise and sweat. It helps to build physical strength, energy and endurance; it helps to clean out toxins from our bodies. It also helps us to maintain healthy emotional balance by increasing endorphins that give us positive energy and feelings.

The fifth step to holistic renewal is to review our relationships. What relationships do we currently have in our lives? What are our relationships at home, work environment, church, extended family, friends, and civic organizations? When we think of the people and organizations, with which we have relationships, how do they make us feel? Do they help us to achieve our intentional goals? How important are our relationships to us? Do we contribute and give our best in our relationships? Do we receive appropriately in those relationships? We should be able to rank the importance of our relationships among the individuals and organizations of our lives. When we look at our relationships, we should be able to identify how they can be improved. Is there something that we should do to contribute more? Should we request more from our relationships? We should make the best effort to make our high priority relationships the best.

In completing our five steps of holistic renewal, we must make sure our mental and spiritual goals are aligned. We should review all elements of our lives and make sure that they align with our mental and spiritual goals. We must ensure that our focus and intent is aligned with what we believe that we should be doing. This renewal process is not a once in a lifetime exercise. This renewal process should be reviewed with some regularity. It should definitely be reviewed when you know that your life is not achieving what you believe that it should be achieving. We must make a continuous effort to be in tune with ourselves.

Plan A v. Plan B

Many of us discuss obtaining a career instead of having just a job. Not just any career, but our dream career or calling, shall I say, is what we want.  This drive for living out a vision has become increasingly more prevalent in today society and those who live within it.

Maslow’s Hierarchy for decades has been a very nice theory, something nice to try in practice at best.  Aspirations to climb from survival to living one’s ultimate vision was not a focus of the common people, the masses.  Should we have expected it to be, given that it followed a time of intense poverty, the Great Depression and a period where people were being massively slaughtered for no reason?  To live was probably aspiration enough for many.  Unfortunately, our environment, society has a great influence and in that time, limitation on how we think, what we want, what we seek.

Today people actually want to climb up the Maslow hierarchy. Survival is not enough. More people are returning to an old practice of meditation, seeking what God has for their lives. The obvious earthly picture and day to day mandate is no longer enough.  

The only question for many of us is how do we do it? How do we go from survival (eating, sleeping, clothing and shelter) to self- actualization (realizing our purpose, creating, contributing to society, not only finding meaning, but making meaning in life)?  And how patient should we be in that journey from survival to self– actualization?  I cannot say definitively that the answer is the same for everyone. However, the optimistic side of me wants to believe that there is a formula, a formula to follow in order to get to where we want to be in life.

In popular New Age thinking, you will hear a snippet from the Bible or something like it that says: Write a vision and make it plain. Many choose to believe today, if we simply say what we want and focus on it wholeheartedly, it shall come to pass. I definitely believe that increased hope is power in itself.    However, I believe that my true peace and joy will only come from that thing or those things and experiences that are authored by God. God’s voice in it, I know is the required ingredient for any long term success and/ or peace for me.

Many will say that it is foolish to have a plan B when you already have a plan A. Will Smith has made such a statement. Steve Harvey has made such a statement. These are very “successful” individuals. Which makes me ponder in highly polarized directions, how valid is what they say?  On one hand, I want to strongly agree with what they say because they have been and are “successful.” On the other hand, it could be easy for them to say such things because they are financially successful. Does it make a difference if we are the only ones dependent on ourselves of if others are as well? When we have children looking at us with mouths to feed and educational costs to pay, a beautiful dream that encompasses a trip to Oz with no yellow brick road is much harder to sell and ditching plan B seems like nothing beyond fantasy.  Could the proper approach be not black and white, but gray? Can we have such comfort in ambiguity?  I believe that we must rejoice and celebrate whatever we have, whether it is a plan C, D, or B. However, if God has given us plan A, we must ALWAYS walk toward that plan and keep sight of it. As long as he tells us that it is real, we must never stop asking God for that yellow brick road. We must never stop looking for that yellow brick road. Even when it seems very far and the destination is not completely known it is important for us to start walking as soon as we see and / or discover the first slither of that yellow brick road. It may be an inch. It may be a mile. It may be a day. It may be a week. It may be a year. It may be several years. However, we should never give up on a dream that God has given us. If He has given it to us He will also provide the directions. We must be flexible in how we receive the directions. We cannot require God to give us all of the directions at once or in our timing. It may be on step of the directions at a time. He may give us one step in the direction and then not give us the other for a very long time. If there's any time in life to have patience, it is to have patience with God. He is the owner of all time. He can give more or he can take away. So as I write this, I inspire myself to keep moving to plan A as I celebrate my plan B. I hope that you are inspired to keep or start moving to plan A while you celebrate your plan B. Bless you and your endeavors.