Why Our Unity is So Important and Beautiful to God

Unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything Anonymous

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” JN 17.20-21

The night before Jesus died he prayed that his disciples would be one. Why was the unity of his followers so on his heart?

In college, I majored in painting and still enjoy painting. I love color. I have around 20 tubes of different colored oil paints. I like Pthalo Blue and Cadmium Yellow and Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ocher. I like them by themselves but they’re 100 times more beautiful when mixed together and juxtaposed next to each other in a thousand surprising combinations. What makes a piece of art beautiful is the harmonies and relationships of the shapes and colors. A canvas that is all one color is boring.

In “Eyes Wide open: Enjoying God in Everything” author Steve DeWitt says that the amazing diversity in unity that we see in the creation points us to God. A stunning sunset, the glories of the Grand Canyon, the beauty of sunlight in a forest – the thousands of combinations of color and light and shape in nature, a symphony orchestra or a sports team working harmoniously – all the variations of diversity and harmony we see in the world – point us to God. Especially when we enjoy harmonious relationships.

“We enjoy holidays (the coming together of family), weddings and anniversaries (celebrations of the union of marriage), and Fourth of July parades (the unity of community and nation). Coming together feels great! Relational unity is humanity at its supreme and highest ideal. Have you ever wondered why the greatest memories of our lives or not things we bought or sites we saw or the foods we ate? Think about your greatest memories. They probably have something to do with times of closeness with a parent, a child, a spouse, or a friend. Relational unity is beautiful because all the experiential harmonies of this world whisper of the wondrous beauty of the Godhead’s relational threeness and oneness.” – Steve DeWitt

Relational unity is beautiful because all the experiential harmonies of this world whisper of the wondrous beauty of the Godhead’s relational threeness and oneness.”

All the relational diversity and harmony we see on earth – in nature, music, sports, art, in family celebrations– points us to the love and harmony of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, three distinct persons in one God.

That’s why it is so important for us to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4.3). That’s why we should seek to be reconciled to one another and work out our differences as quickly as possible. To forgive one another and bear with one another. Because our unity in diversity in our families and churches reflects and points to God.

Do you have strained relationships with fellow believers? What can you do to promote love and unity in that relationship? Are you unreconciled with anyone? What can you do to seek reconciliation?

I know that relationships even among Christians can be messy. We often sin against one another and hurt each other. We have misunderstandings and offenses. But as much as it is up to us we should forgive, love and pursue the unity of the Spirit with every brother and sister.

Remember, when we love one another it is a reflection of the beautiful love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for one another and for us. O Lord God, grant us unity, love, and harmony in our families and churches!


Today’s article was written by Pastor Mark Altrogge and is shared from the following website: https://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/mark-altrogge/why-our-unity-is-so-important-and-beautiful-to-god.html

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The Critical Role Nutrition Plays in Mental Health

The best doctor gives the least medicine Benjamin Franklin

One of the most unrecognized factors in the development of mental health is the role of nutrition. The link between diet and mental health is growing as the field of Nutritional Psychiatry/Psychology expands. This field is becoming more impactful as epidemics continue to make headlines surrounding the health of our country and world. We know nutrition has substantial physical impacts, but it is the mental impacts of nutrition that are gaining traction with additional research and heightening awareness around this topic.

Proper nutrition is what fuels our bodies and our bodies need a regular supply of fuel. Oxygen is part of that formula and food is another part. If we supply our bodies with a sugar-laden diet, we are filling up on poor fuel. But if we supply our bodies with a healthy diet, we are giving our brains the fuel it needs to affect our cognitive processes and emotions. Similar to a high-end vehicle that uses premium gasoline, our brains function best when it receives premium fuel.

How nutrients help your brain

The fuel we use can make all the difference and directly affects the function of your brain and mood. Eating high-quality foods that contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants will nourish the brain in a positive way. Similarly, just like an expensive car, your brain can be damaged if you ingest anything other than premium fuel. A diet high in refined sugars can impair brain functions and worsen the mental health symptoms.

When food interacts with the chemicals in our brains it keeps us going throughout the day. And when we eat a variety of foods, there are a variety of effects on our brain. For example, carbohydrates increase serotonin which is a chemical that has a calming effect. Protein-rich foods affect our brain by increasing alertness. And certain healthy fats that contain omega-3 and omega-6, are linked to reducing rates of depression. Since our bodies cannot produce some of these, it is important that they are included in our diets.

What should I eat?

It is important to avoid the high sugar, processed foods and focus on foods containing the nutrients that benefit brain health. A brain-friendly diet includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein, and limited amounts of sodium, saturated fat, and sugar. Working these foods into your diet will help protect your brain, fight fatigue, and boost your mood and alertness.

Common brain-friendly foods include:

  • Avocados
  • Blueberries
  • Fish
  • Turmeric
  • Broccoli
  • Dark chocolate
  • Eggs
  • Almonds

Helping youth understand how nutrition improves mental health

Nutrition and how it affects mental health is especially important during adolescence due to rapid growth and brain development that occurs during the teenage years. At a time when eating patterns are being established, it is also a time when psychiatric illnesses may develop. Although getting young people to eat healthily can be challenging, putting in the effort can improve their mental well-being and instill practices that will benefit them in their adult lives.

Engaging youth in food preparation and limiting their access to high-fat and sugary foods is a start. Keeping plenty of fruits and vegetables stocked at home while encouraging small changes like swapping out soda pop for sparkling water, or fruits instead of potato chips for an afternoon snack, might lead to more healthy choices. It takes a lot of effort to change one’s diet to include healthier food choices, especially for adolescents. But encouraging them to make a smart choice can help them build habits that will have a positive impact on their mental health.

What now?

Start by paying attention to how eating different foods can make you feel. Not just how they feel hitting your taste buds, but how they make you feel a few hours later or the next day. Experiment with a healthy diet for three to four weeks. Cut out the processed and sugar-laden foods and replace them with healthy alternatives. See how you feel. If you feel great, you might be onto something. If you feel more alert, are in a better mood and have more energy, you are definitely on to something. Then slowly introduce foods back into your diet and see how you feel. This will be the “aha moment” when you realize how critical nutrition is for your mental health and truly realize that premium fuel is the best fuel for your brain.

Today’s article was written by Darren DeYoung and is shared from the following website: https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-critical-role-nutrition-plays-in-mental-health/

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The Power of Personal Responsibility

The secret ingredient to true happiness? Decisive optimism and personal responsibility. Amy Leigh MercreeLife blooms when we take responsibility for our full human experience. To be personally responsible and self-reliant means we have to get our sh*t together and decide to have command over these five areas:

1. Our Aim. What is our goal, our direction, our purpose? What is it that we are moving toward and organizing our lives to achieve and contribute? These are questions of the motivated and purposeful human.

2. Our Attention. Are the things we continually focus on bringing us joy, success, connection, growth? Or are we being distracted by a bunch of  garbage and gossip in life?

3. Our Attitude. The power plant doesn’t have energy, it generates energy. Similarly, we don’t have an attitude, we generate one. When we choose to generate a negative energy and attitude, life is horrible. But when we choose to generate and broadcast a joyous, loving, and positive energy, life opens up to us, people feel something new from us, and our entire life blooms and grows.

4. Our Affections. Are we connecting with those we love and sensing the beauty of this life? The emotional quality and connections we feel in life are also a choice, and we should choose to feel again, to love again, to become passionate and emotionally open, giving, strong and vibrant.

5. Our Actions. Our destiny is dictated by our disciplined actions – what we do each day, the habits we develop, our purposeful efforts. Take no action, have no life, no adventure, no progress. But overcome apathy and fear and get going and soon there is magic and momentum and what we love to call, the charged life.

Transcript

Let’s talk about personal responsibility and self-reliance.

Have you ever met somebody who just drives you nuts, because you’re like, “Why are they not more responsible?”

It drives you insane or you know somebody who just, I mean, they just, for whatever reason cannot stand on their own in life.

You’re like, “Could you please make a decision!” You know, you go to dinner with somebody and be like, “I don’t know honey can you tell me what to order,” and you’re like AHH!

Now, we all know someone like that and some of us have been guilty at some parts of our lives and being that type of person, so let’s dial this in.

What does personal responsibility really mean? What happens in our lives when we have it?

I personally feel that when we are more personally responsible for our own lives, life blooms. A magic enters our life, not just the magic of confidence and certainty in who we are, but a sense of total truth with what life is supposed to be for ourselves.

We are not meant to be victims or apathetic people laying around, hoping something comes along and changes our lives because only two things change our lives.

1. Either, something new does come into our life and it changes our direction, changes our insight, changes who we are. Maybe we win the lottery or the lucky white knight comes in and saves your life. Or…

2. Or, something new comes from within you.

I think what that thing is that comes from within us that’s so powerful that retakes our life, what is that magic? It’s personal responsibility.

I know that’s so simple, it’s almost like (boring sound). It doesn’t sound sexy to say be responsible for your life, but I think we have five main responsibilities in our lives and if we take control of each of these areas of our lives, like a new power comes into our life, a new joy and zest.

I would argue more over time, success, connection, joy, love, and abundance … come along with it.

OUR AIM

And that first thing that we are personally responsible for is our aim, our ambition, our desire, our goal, our dream.

Successful people look out there and say, “What is it that I desire of my life?” They go for it. They’ve set an intention. They’ve set a direction for who they are and where they’re going and what is meaningful to them, who they want to have along with them. Their aim is extraordinarily tight. They really do see where they’re going and what they want. They don’t always know the full picture, they just know, I want to be like this… I want to do things like this. They start along that path.

Because they’re following their own path, even if they don’t know where exactly it goes, they’re living the adventurous life. They’re entering a new phase of their life where they truly feel that this journey is their own versus just being carried along by their parents, their professors or their peers or their co-workers. It’s their own – they have their own aim in life.

I think we have to take control of that. I think tonight would be a good time for you to sit down and say,

“Okay, what is it I want in the major areas of my life? What is it I truly have aim and ambition for in my work life, in my relationships, in my sense of spiritual and emotional self? In my physical health and vitality? In my overall direction in life?”

What do you want next week to be about? If you don’t know then you are “aimless”, and when you’re aimless it’s pretty easy to feel pretty lost. It’s like you kind of wander around in the world, that’s a big full wilderness. That’s why in Montana we always say, “The time to have the map is before you enter the woods.”

The world is a big thicket of crazy throngs of people who have all their wants and wills, and if you don’t have your own direction, if you have not set your own life agenda, they will set one for you. So you have to direct your own aim.

OUR ATTENTION

The second thing you have to direct is your attention.

Where is your attention going each moment of the day?

The ability to be fully present is really just guiding one’s attention to this moment, giving ourselves an alertness, an intention and awareness to the very Now that we are experiencing. That’s power.

When you are more attentive to your life, to the moments that you experience, it’s amazing.

But attention also applies to, what are we paying attention to overall in our life?

Most of us are being guided again, by the aims of others so we are taken from our own attention of what we should be focusing on and stripped away into the distractions of the world.

Most people’s attentions are not… they’re not paying attention to what they should be paying attention to based on their goals, their desires, their dreams or demands and responsibilities of life; they’re paying attention to the distraction that showed up. “Oh look, a new Michael Jackson song!” (That happened right before this video!).

I’m just saying… if we’re going to accomplish a lot and go where we want to in our lives and really sense the fullness of this moment, we have to guard our attention from all the garbage that can come in and sweep it away.

OUR ATTITUDE

I think the third thing that we are absolutely responsible for in our lives and when we take responsibility of this thing, life absolutely explodes in joy, and that’s our attitude.

How are you meeting life? Are you meeting life energized and alive and buoyant, and excited, and enthusiastic and positive; you can’t wait for the next moment to unfold?

Or, are you like, “Well, here we go again?”

You know these people, have you seen them? I see them. Watch people when they walk down the street, they’re grumbling, it’s like their attitude stinks so bad that I can’t stand to be around them. It’s like they’re just emanating nasty, dark, bad energy in the world, and why? Because they chose to.

Some people say, “No, Brendon, no one would choose that.” Yeah. They did. They chose to have a bad attitude just enough over a period of time that it became part of their personality. That their attitude now is just fixed. It is closed. It is angry, upset, or bordering on the negative emotional qualities of life, rather than realizing the incredible magic and experience that we all have available to us, each and every single moment of the day.

There is a lot of magic around here. When your attitude is open you’re allowing yourself to learn. When your attitude is open you’re allowing yourself to connect to other people. When your attitude is open finding happiness isn’t something you do you create it. You choose the attitude of happiness. You don’t have to have happiness, you generate it. You don’t have to have good energy today, you generate it.

I always say the power plant doesn’t have energy it generates energy. You yourself are generating an attitude. It was not fixed on you.

Everything we’ve learned in psychology over the years is that you can literally change your attitude, just by controlling your thoughts and directing them in a new, positive, healthy, social way.

Why not do that?

You all deserve to have a good attitude. It’s a choice, just like happiness is a choice. It’s a choice. Choose to have a good attitude.

OUR AFFECTIONS

I think the fourth thing, if we’re talking about directing your aim, we’re talking about making sure that your attention is focused on the things it should be, and that you’re directing your attitude… the fourth thing we get to direct is our affections.

Our affections in terms of, our emotional quality in life, but also those that we care for. We should take responsibility for the amount of love we’re giving our loved ones.

We should control the amount of emotion that we have throughout the day, not to control it and stifle it, but to allow the beauty of it to come up. To allow ourselves to feel affectionate towards other human beings. To allow ourselves to feel affectionate for causes. To allow ourselves to feel affectionate for Mother Nature and our planet, and our God. To allow that emotional connection, that affection that happens when we care deeply about something again.

A lot of people, they got hurt a couple of times in their life so they shut off. They closed down, they’re like, “I’m out,” and they stopped allowing that beautiful part of their lives.

It takes a lot of responsibility to allow ourselves to love because it’s so much easier to shut down and take no responsibility whatsoever, become a victim, become very upset, because you know what, when we’re a victim we don’t have to be responsible. It’s somebody else’s deal. They have the power. They took the power over us, whisked away all our goodness and now we can just be upset and angry. That’s such an easy route for people to take.

Demanding that we take control of our emotional reality and the affections we have for others and other things, that brings about risk. If you heighten the affection you give to somebody; they might hurt you. So? Love is never hurt, ever. Maybe your ego gets trounced a little bit.

Maybe you feel sad for a couple moments, but at the end of the day what’s life? Is it supposed to be a bland, colorless universe where we don’t get to experience the heights and the joys and the rainbows and the gifts of love?

I don’t think so.

I think affection is something that we an all choose to have, and feel and cultivate in our lives.

If we are not overcome with emotion once in a while for somebody, then we aren’t thinking about the beauty in other people.

If we aren’t overcome with emotion and connection and we don’t just want to grab someone and kiss them all over the face then we aren’t paying attention to people anymore.

We have become too trapped in our own thing.

Other people should fascinate us. We should be excited to meet them. We should look out into the world and say, “Wow, you know what, there are so many people. They’re all so different. What an incredible zest that we get.”

Our brain is hardwired to love novelty. Guess what? We have seven billion people who can give us that dopamine drip, just by talking to them and connecting real emotion with them again. Let’s do that.

OUR ACTIONS

The fifth thing that people need to be personally responsible for in our lives is action, our behaviors.

What is it that we’re doing each and every single day?

Taking responsibility for our actions because they are adding to our character and our destiny.

Who we become is a result of our disciplined actions, not our random initiatives that we do once in a while that respond to something, but, “What do I want to be about,” and being disciplined about being that.

What do I want to achieve being disciplined about achieving that?

What do I want to give or serve and being disciplined about giving and serving in those ways when we do that?

Something completely changes. We get a remarkable amount of momentum and progress in our lives.

Our personal responsibility in being able to control our actions and guide them towards healthy and positive outcomes for ourselves, that gives us extraordinary confidence, an extraordinary sense of progress in life. When we’re confident in who we are and we’re confident in our progress towards where we are moving, then it’s easier to sense that magical element called happiness.

It all comes from being responsible for those five things. Aim. Attitude. Attentions. Affections. Actions we take each day.

Look at the opposite. Look at those who have no aim in life.

Look at those who have not controlled their attitude so they’re just taking on and imbued the negative emotional attitude of those around them.

Look at those who cannot control their attention during the day, how much they accomplish. Look at those people who have no affection for other people and they do not control their emotions at all in positive ways.

Look at those who are not directing their actions intentionally.

What happens? They always end up derailing their life. They end up lost somewhere. They end up frustrated and irresponsible, not only for their own lives but often for the lives of those who they are entrusted to care for.

So personal responsibility is a big thing. But now you master those five elements of your life, bring intentionality to those five elements of your life, and as I said in the beginning, “Life blooms.” An extraordinary new quality of experience comes into our lives, we feel an incredible spark and zest about it each day. We feel what we call the charged life.

Today’s article was written by Brendon Burchard and is shared from the following website: https://brendon.com/blog/the-power-of-personal-responsibility/

 

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The Importance of Loving Everyone

Life in abundance comes only through great love Elbert Hubbard

Of all the “Hallmark holidays” I love Valentine’s Day the best.

It takes the “gratefulness” from Thanksgiving and adds in “all love, all the time.”

And rumor has it that sex may be part of the deal too…but this is a “G-Rated blog…”

I started writing this blog February 14, 2014, in honor and memory of Marty Edelston (my friend and mentor) who had passed away in October of 2013.

It is no accident that the man with the biggest heart in the world was born on February 14th…yes, Valentine’s Day is Marty’s birthday too.

So I kicked off this blog two years ago sharing a quote from my good friend Sean Stephenson, a psychotherapist, author and internationally known speaker:

“I love everyone because as soon as I don’t love you, you own me”

The lesson here is quite simple:

When we spend our energy NOT loving someone, we willingly hand over our power (and more than likely, our confidence) to them.

But if we work on eliminating the things in ourselves that keep us from loving others, what’s left is just love and gratefulness (and more confidence).

Although I am far from a student of religion, Sean’s quote is a modernization of something we should all practice in our lives…that is, “love your enemies”…wish them well…so you can move on to what is really important in your life which is your own happiness and well-being.

I know…old news…but how many of us spend more time and energy making others’ wrong, creating anger (and stress) while we ignore all the good stuff we could be focusing on?

Someone recently “quoted me” on Facebook with a quote that I did not author but it’s one I try to live by…and I hope it’s meaningful to you as you move through this Valentine’s Day, loving everyone.

The quote goes like this:

“The only consistent feature of all your dissatisfying relationships is you.”

Isn’t it funny that the people in our lives who have the longest lists of people who have wronged them, made their lives miserable, caused unhappiness for them, rarely come to the realization that they are the CEO of their life and that there is only one thing that is present in all of those relationships?

OK…enough on the lecture…Valentine’s Day is simply the best holiday…and I will close with one more quote which is the same one I closed with two years ago.

From the great Stephen Stills:

“Love the one you’re with”

With love and gratitude (and wishing you an awesome “V-Day”),

Brian

This post was written by Brian Kurtz and posted on Valentine’s Day. However, the message Brian shares pertains to every day! Love is important and we need to be aware of our need to be loving to ourselves and to others. This article has been shared from the following website: https://www.briankurtz.me/the-importance-of-loving-everyone-2/

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10 Reasons Why You Should Never (Ever!) Settle In Love

I Found the One Whom My Soul Loves Song of Solomon 3:4

Over the last several weeks, I have been reminded of the importance of never settling when it comes to love – that love that you will (or should) call that love of your life. I have been happily married to my sweet, amazing husband for 40 years now. And…that is my point: NEVER SETTLE WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE!!!

I have seen the divorces and the heart-wrenching situations of those who settled. In reality, there is no such thing as settling, there is only succumbing (briefly) to the belief that no one will ever love us. As I have witnessed those relationship wrecks, I have cried for those broken souls who let the belief sink into their hearts that no one would ever truly love them. I don’t know who or what they doubted more: that God would provide them with a true love or that they were worthy of such.

Love is worth sacrifice. It is worth living alone. It is worth living with uncertainty. It is worth passing up the one you think may be the only person who will ever want you. No one finds true love by settling for the one that “will do”.

It is with that thought in mind that I share today’s article. I hope you enjoy!

Trust me, all singles get to that place. Oh, you know the one…

You’ve been single for a while, and since you really really want to be in a relationship, you start to bargain with yourself. You think, “Maybe I could just settle for someone I like just enough” instead of waiting for one who will truly make your heart floweth over. Well, here’s the sign I’d post in that puddle of pessimism: No settling allowed!

As anyone who’s already read the preface to Meeting Your Half-Orange knows, I’m all about being picky.

To make it clear why I don’t think you should settle for “eh” when it comes to a lifetime love partner, here are 10 reasons why settling works against you. Don’t settle for love, because…

1. Settling is a choice made from fear.

Don’t choose a relationship because you’re afraid to be alone. Or because you’re afraid you won’t find someone better. Or because you’re afraid you’re not good enough to attract someone who’s nuts about the real, true you. Be strong, not scared! You’re a tough cookie and you know you’re meant for more, so don’t let fear make decisions for you. Trust in the good life can bring you.

2. Passion is like a hot pepper in a good soup.

In other words, it changes in flavor, but it doesn’t diminish. If you choose a relationship with a passion and attraction to the whole person (not just their looks), the rewards of that emotional attraction can still be there decades later. But choose a relationship without that emotional passion? You could end up with a soup with no flavor at all.

3. Friendship marriages are different than deep, romantic ones.

Yes, some people can commit to an arranged marriage and still stay together for the long run. But it can take years to develop any emotional zing—if ever they do at all. Relationships can offer so much more than someone who cleans the toilet or puts gas in the car every other time. You can have more if you want it.

4. Love isn’t a business contract!

I read a quote from a woman who says she feels okay that she settled for her partner since marriage, after all, is like “a mundane non-profit business.” A mundane non-profit business? Goodness, what kind of marriage is that? Personally, I prefer to be alone than spend time with people who don’t speak in some way to my heart. Don’t you? Marriage or your big relationship should be the same way! Let your heart have a say.

5. When the novelty of coupledom wears off, you’re stuck with each other.

All day. All night. All weekend. All the time. Watching not just your favorite shows but theirs. Withstanding not just their acceptable habits, but their annoying ones, too. Do you want to spend all your quality time with someone you wouldn’t give your high-quality stamp of approval?

6. Settling is a sign you’re pessimistic about your future.

It says you think you’ll never meet someone who adores you, who’s healthy and right for you, and who you love wholeheartedly in return. Be a dating optimist! If you want to feel happy, challenged, smart, pretty, safe and attracted to your partner, you can. You first have to believe the right partner is out there for you, and then begin asking for him or her to come rolling on into your life.

7. You deserve more!

If you want to feel amazing about yourself and feed your healthy self-esteem, you should partner with a wonderful, respectable person you’re madly attracted to in some special way. Settling with someone you don’t respect and adore is a way of diminishing yourself. You deserve someone as great in heart and soul as you are.

8. If you settle, there may come a day later in your life when you feel you’re missing something.

Are you prepared to battle with that? Someday, when you see couples who seem to care deeply for each other in palm-sweating, butterfly-churning ways, do you want to think, “What have I done? I never had that…” or do you want to smile, hug your honey and say, “Love is amazing. We have that, too.”

9. You deserve a big, bad, wonderful love!

Long-term commitments are marathons, not sprints. If you’re going to go the distance, you want someone next to you that makes the run worth doing—through the highs, the lows, the effort and the exhaustion. Give yourself the gift of a wonderful life for the whole long run.

10. If you’ve settled with a so-so someone, you won’t be open when your half-orange comes along!

Your other half is so desperately hoping you’ll be open. Do yourself the favor of making sure you are. Don’t lie down into a relationship if it’s not going to make you stand up and shine. Celebrate yourself and the love you’re meant to have and don’t settle for anything less!

Today’s article was written by Amy Spencer,

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