To Believe or not to Believe.  That is the Question.  TEN Reasons Why I Believe in God

Charlotte Gyllenhammar’s ‘Double Bind’ in Gothenbourg’s art gallery  illustrates the tension some people face about believing in God. A Double Bind in a relationship is where a person is caught in a trap of contradictory messages.  

In the absence of any ‘proof’ either way, I have decided to simply believe. Here are my …

Ten Reasons Why I Believe in God.

1. It’s so simple.

For me it is the most obvious thing, and anyone can do it. For 60 years I’ve listened to people duck and dive around the simplicity, thinking it is far too easy to innocently ‘accept’ the honest possibility of a Designer/Creator. I’ve heard all the “Who created God, then?” arguments. In the face of such design intricacies and interlinked complexity in the natural world, simply to accept that there might be an Eternal Being who was and is the Source of it all seems so obvious to me. Why fight it?      Here’s the next one…

2. I have someone to thank, thank God.

Yes, someone to blame for all the GOOD stuff. The atheist’s most embarrassing moment is when she or he feels supremely thankful  for something and doesn’t know who to thank. Beauty. Love. Health. Sleep. Life. Children. Hope. 

3. It inspires faith.

I love the fact that you cannot prove God doesn’t exist.  Or does, of course. Believe it or not, it’s a choice! (Yes, I know this argument is rejected by all the logical people in the world who question whether we have choice or not. They rather miss the point methinks.) This doubt-ridden world is crying out for the beauty of simple trust.  Who better to trust than a loving  Creator?    OK, here’s my next one …

4. It’s healthy.

It is now well established that belief in a benevolent God has physical, emotional and psychological health benefits. They live longer, have better relationships, are more socially contributing, less stressed,  and healthier. He has to be a benevolent God though.  Malevolence has the opposite effect.

5. I’m never alone. 
Allowing myself to sense the presence (pre-sence?) of an Eternal Spirit who is interested in me and ready to connect with the deepest part of me is massively reassuring. It means that I always have someone to share my life with, who loves me unconditionally and listens to my every heartbeat, wherever I am, whatever I’m thinking, in good days and bad. 

6. It answers the question “What’s the Point?”

It has been said that the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you found out the purpose of that event. I personally am happy to accept that there IS an objective reason for my existence – which gives a sense of fulfilment and purpose beyond the decision of a couple of people to mate and have a baby. Belief in God may be subjective, but if it is true then he is ‘beyond’ us in so many ways.  I think human beings need that ‘something, someone beyond ourselves.’ 

7.  I haven’t found anything better.

I’m talking about an all-forgiving, kind, all-powerful, GOOD God here, not a legalistic, authoritarian, punisher of human wrongs who spends his (or her, of course) time dreaming up nasties for bad behaviour.  Mine is a God who accepts me and loves me just as I am, no strings attached. ‘Love personified’ describes him well. There is nothing I can do to make him love me more … or love me less.

8.  Heaven and hope.

The God I love has prepared a perfect home for my spirit the other side of death – heaven. Bring it on … in due course, needless to say. He knows the perfect time for my transfer from this world to that one, and has it in his control.  This conviction provides deep reassuring hope.  Self-deception? Maybe. How will you or I know? (Frankly, I don’t care. This works for me.)

9. I feel deeply deeply safe.

As in ‘deeply’.  I still feel insecure sometimes, and occasionally afraid, but the safety I’m talking about is much more profound than that. It runs very deep, the reassurance that whatever happens to me physically or emotionally, spiritually I’m safe.  Secure.  It’s an all-encompassing awareness that this God is absolutely on my side and that it will be, not just alright in the end, but unimaginably amazing. To quote that 2012 classic Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (sorry!) “It’s going to be alright in the end, so if it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end.”   I love that line!

10. History.
When I was sixteen I had a stunning experience that changed my life. I may tell you about it sometime. For me it was my personal entry into an understanding of God that has affected everything. There have been hundreds of similar moments since. Some people might call them coincidences, or lucky moments, or the ‘universe’ looking after you’, or just flukes. They may be right, but that doesn’t work for me. I think such moments have a spiritual origin. They are the Creator actively participating in my daily life.  I like that.

I’d LOVE you to comment on this.  Feel free to add your honest (but polite please, or they will be taken down!) thoughts.

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Posted in My Faith, Personal development

Experiment.

You need this invitation … to experiment.

Every day, every moment of your life contains uncertainty.  No one knows what the future holds, even the future just a short few seconds away.  As I write, and you read this, neither of us knows what is just around the corner. Your corner. My corner: joy or sorrow, good or bad, life or death, ‘win’ or ‘lose’.  No one knows.  Life – each and every day – is an experiment, with billions of ‘unknowns’.  Everything – everything! –  we think about the future is speculation to one degree or another.

Find the (slightly) mad scientist in your heart.

Find the (slightly) mad scientist in your heart.

 

Navigator.

Yet we manage to navigate our way through these exploding billions of predictably unpredictable happenings, learning from them, adjusting to them, taking advantage of them, and even enjoying them. And as we grow up, we begin to recognise and react to these patterns, noticing how things happen, together and in order, and how we can profoundly rely on them to guide us through our never-twice-the-same inner and outer worlds. And how something we do seems to affect what happens around us. A baby’s physical hungry cry produces real actual milk spilling from its mother’s breast (how does that happen?) or perhaps a warmed version of nutritious something in a plastic bottle!

"Hmmm... I wonder what is going to happen?"

“Hmmm… I wonder… ?”

Experimenter.

Reflecting on this recently (experimenting, not breast feeding!) I thought about how I can be more the Experimenter than the experiment.  I’m not a fatalist.  I don’t accept that we are all caught up in a hopeless universal inevitability, because I don’t believe it’s true. I believe that to some extent I – each of us – can significantly influence what happens around me, and what happens beyond that. There’s no such thing as a failed experiment, just an unexpected result. I also believe that I am first of all a spiritual being, in a different realm from that perceived fatalistic inevitability, and that the spiritual part of me has huge unknown power. It breathes with the creative freedom-giving breath of its Creator.

Butterfly in Brazil? I swimmer in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Butterfly in Brazil? A swimmer in Rio.

Creator.

Once I understand that a butterfly in Brazil can cause a hurricane in another part of the world, then choosing to alter my habitual behaviour today, given time, will indeed make the world different from what it would have been. And I believe that everything is connected in some way. You, me, that butterfly, everyone else and the Creator. Flapping my wings differently (or choosing not to) will just as inevitably change things somewhere. We cannot NOT communicate.

So how is that going to affect what you think, say and do today as you leave this blog?

Experiment. You cannot fail.

(Then let me know what happened.)

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Posted in Personal development, Uncategorized

Inevitable Success – the reason I coach.

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“What is success?” the man leading the seminar asked brightly, wanting some audience participation. I put up my hand, and along with several other participants, gave my answer. “The inevitable result of being human.”  I knew it wouldn’t be regarded as a normal answer, but I want success now, a lot  –  and I want to use today’s successes as a springboard to more rewarding ones – and not just my own successes. My definition guarantees me success every day, and makes me aware of how natural success is for us all.

Success is inevitable.

You cannot help but achieve your deepest goals. Without knowing it, you succeed. Look close enough and you’ll find you’re a success.  Every day. Pretty much all the time!  

Here are some of my successes (though not in chronological order!)  Waking up.  Talking to my family. Cuddling my children and grandchildren. Breathing. Doing my emails. Writing this blog. Cooking breakfast. Laughing at a TV programme. Doing some reading. Having a bath. Walking. In fact I’ve succeeded so many times today it is so normal to succeed that I’m completely unaware of how much of a success I am.

However, your deepest goals may not be so obvious. You might be missing them. Even embarrassed by them.

Less obvious success…

Here are some successes that people have that they may not want to own up to:  

  • Backing off. Being successful at making sure they don’t need courage.
  • Avoiding potential pain by staying within safe, risk-free limits.
  • Never experiencing rejection (by not putting themselves in a relationship where that could happen, or by making sure they themselves do the rejecting first.) 
  • Staying an emotional child. (There are plenty of people out there looking to mother the emotionally needy.)

Perhaps you’ve successfully taken whatever decisions you need to make absolutely sure you never stand out in the crowd. Solution: keep your head down and your mouth shut.

It is easy to make sure you never fail an exam. Simply never take one. Success!  

You need never fear mockery.  Never ever come up with anything original.

You need never fear being made redundant or getting the sack. Simple: resign at the earliest opportunity, or don’t take the job in the first place! 

But of course, such dubious success is linked to other dubious successes – successfully avoiding responsibility for your life and future for example.  And that means other people will begin to take over what you could contribute, and you will become poorer, more isolated, more vulnerable and more depleted. Some successes can produce unwelcome results.

What do you WANT to want?

Time to dig deeper. (As you know, I don’t do shallow.)  

Do you REALLY want what you’re getting out of life at the moment? What do you WANT to want? What WELCOME outcomes?

What are you prepared to go for, to sacrifice for (everything in life has a price), in order to get an outcome you’ll be PROUD OF?  

What is the next step for you?

From the day I stepped out from behind my mummy’s skirts to do something on my own, fear and courage have fought for supremacy. As I stepped out, eventually courage won.

My job is to make sure all these years later that courage continues to win, not just for me, but for you too.  

YOU are the reason I choose to coach.    Here are some others. 

 

 

 

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Posted in Personal development, Uncategorized

STOP.

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Just south of Nordcap – and of course everything in Europe is south of Nordcap – is this little, well-worn picnic bench.  No one in sight.  It was waiting for me beside a cool clean pool half way up a mountain. So I stopped and made its acquaintance.

Breakfast.  A camp-style ‘bath’ (we’ll leave it there!). A read. Sitting quietly in the arctic sun. Solitude. Aloneness.

Later in the day, I stopped again, beside a little beach.  For the rest of the afternoon.

Today the ferry was full, and it returns in four hours time. So I’ve stopped again, the camper – and my heart – still. Stoptime.

What ‘stoptime’ do you have?

Are you comfortable alone with your thoughts, at ease with quiet meditation?  For me it is a touch of heaven, a ‘place’ of acute joy, a source of spiritual replenishment and relief.

Many years ago I dedicated myself to serving God, and have continued to do that down the decades, not least as I coach people here in Powerchange, but without stop-time my life quickly runs dry and my reservoirs empty.  I find myself offering the world (and of course my clients) something from the bottom of the barrel instead of fresh from an overflow.  No one wants a tired stale coach thanks.

Me First!

‘Me First’ isn’t necessarily a selfish attitude.  It can be a very important one.  As you become more aware of the lives you influence you will soon discover that your own integrity has a powerful affect on others.

STOP.

Maybe today this is a call to your heart too. Stop. You’ll find a way. Don’t expect others to understand because they probably won’t, but the quality of what you have to offer them will significantly increase.  A hand-to-mouth, on-the-hoof quick sandwich isn’t anything like as satisfying for them or you as a carefully prepared, marinated, carefully considered, slow-cooked, fine-dining meal.

And that takes time.  Time learning from the ‘chef’ – whoever that might be for you. (Choose your teachers wisely! Jesus Christ features for me.)  Time experimenting. Time tasting your own recipes to see if they satisfy you. If they do, then offer them to those who you suspect might enjoy them too.

That’s what I’m doing right now.  Will you stop for a while please?  For everyone’s sake.

Glad I did?  Well, let me know what happens when you do.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m in northern Norway. Help me!

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I’ve a message I want you to help me get out there.  It’s really important, and you can use your connections to ‘make it happen’.  Will you do that for me?  Thank you.  Here it is:

People are afraid.  We can change that!

The job of a leader, so a friend told me years ago, is to provide vision and encourage the people.  In these up and down times, such leaders are few and far between it seems.  From some significant distance, 4,000km from the world of Brexit in northern Norway, I’ve been intrigued to read the messages coming from the media to my iPhone.  They are so horrible to read! Terror, disappointment, regret, fear, anger, rage, exploitation, back-stabbing, recrimination – even apocalyptic declarations about WWIII and the world economies collapsing.   There are people who make a lot of money out of this stuff, it seems.  So where are our leaders?  You can be one – join the team.

Make-it-happen leaders!

No not the doom-laden soothsayers of Westminster or Brussels, or the gleeful media correspondents, maxing out the dollars on people’s fears,  but the LEADERS! The inspiring, real, courageous, faith-filled and enthusiastic pioneers of the future?  Where are the men and women who look at the future and inspire HOPE, COURAGE, PASSION, EXCITEMENT, JOY, SELF-DETERMINATION, and FREEDOM?

The future isn’t some fatalistic end result. It doesn’t even exist right now.  The future is available to us as a clean piece of paper, for us to write on.  US.  Some are scribbling all over it.

You and I each have a choice.  Our lives are not dictated to by an unknown pension fund manager, or some remote political entity.  We each have a choice.  In fact, every day we have thousands of choices, and most of those choices will be subtly influenced by how we have lived our lives up to now, what we have chosen to accept, what we have chosen to listen to and read.  Personally, I read books about courage, risk-taking, stepping into the unknown, and I have lived my life choosing to adventure.  (Even the word ‘adventure’ excites me!) My current read is “The Girl in the Picture” about the Vietnamese girl burned by napalm. You may know it. She rejected fear and shifted to a much better way to think about her life.

Kim Phuk has dedicated her life to making the future better for others.

This 12 year old Kim Phuk, now in her 50s, has positively dedicated her life to bringing hope to the world.

OK, here’s the challenge.

There are people watching you, listening to your words, looking at your face as you say them. Yes, you, YOU are – maybe quite unintentionally – a leader. How are you responding to the world around you right now?  What leadership characteristics have you grown over the years?  Your words change the world.  Your facial expression influences others more than you know. What is in your HEART?  Faith?  Courage?  HOPE?

Those who know me will know that I’m quite libertarian in my response to the world.  I like less laws, not more, greater individual freedom, not more and bigger prisons. I want children educated so that they are inspired to start their own businesses, maximise their creativity to produce goods and services that people are attracted to and want to buy, to develop their interpersonal relationships so that they enjoy one another, be self supporting, and can sell effectively.  (When did you ever hear of sales skills being taught in school?  All of us ‘sell’ something or other.  Selling is an essential life-skill, let’s just be honest about that!)

I want young people educated in the ways of valuing others and taught risk-assessment – not to STOP them taking risks but to teach them HOW to actively take risks and manage and overcome the risk.  I want young people taught, actually taught, to be entrepreneurial.  I want them to learn that failing is merely success being born, to be flexible and adjust.  To keep decision-making about their life and future as close to themselves as possible.  Those who do live happier lives.

Guts

The tough part about my job as a personal development coach is not to get people out of slavery, but to get slavery out of the people. Out of their heads, yes.  Out of their hearts, yes. But even deeper down – out of their GUTS.

Enjoy the freedom you have, dear reader.

Every moment of it.  But don’t leave it there.  Spread the message.  See and take opportunities. Be a GREAT leader to the people who are watching and listening to you.  Use what is available to you.  If you are on Facebook, or have a Twitter account, USE IT to influence people for good, not just tell them about the latest shallow chatter.  This is not a call to ARMS but a call to JOY, to HOPE, and to FAITH FILLED LIVING.

Hit the ‘share’ button and change the world.  You have received a calling to be a GREAT leader – make your message one of courage and hope.

Just think, amidst the put-downs, ridicule and rejection you’ll receive (everything has a price!) much joy HOW MUCH JOY you’ll receive!

Thanks for helping.  Share away!

Andrew

 

Posted in Uncategorized

I’ve been speaking to Germans

On the 1st July I took the first available ferry to Europe at 2.00am.  That evening I was in Koldenkirchen on the far side of Hamburg having a hamburger – well it was actually something else I couldn’t pronounce – at a small-town wine festival, and as I don’t speak German and was the only Englishman for miles I could sit alone or chat to people.  I decided on the latter, and inevitably Brexit came up.

I was so touched by the genuine conversations I had.

The world is full of lovely people. These talked about how important the UK has been in balancing the overwhelming power of Germany.  They were quick to say how determined they are to keep the UK as ‘friends’, and a group of young people (ie, under 30) said they were shocked that only 30% of young people in the UK voted in the referendum.  Needless to say, they were disappointed that we had made an ‘out’ decision as a nation.

One, a newspaper photographer, voiced how he had spent a year in London and loved the free, globally multicultural atmosphere, commenting that he knew of no city in Germany that was like that. “Paris, maybe?” he said.

Another talked of the need for the EU to change, to be more flexible, though neither of us had the faith to believe that would happen. Another comment was that they were not surprised, as we had never given the Project our all, and were geographically an island off the coast. “You are a smaller island now.”  We’ll need to wait and see about that, to see what ‘size’ island we intend to be and what we can and will achieve.

From my little bit of subjective research then, the voice of the German ‘proletariat’, the working people, is of sadness, of being left. All said how this was about governments, and not about the everyday relationships we have as people together, and how important it is that we continue to grow those relationships. Me too – and I’m keen to be an ambassador for ‘communities loving communities’, without all the political machinations getting in the way.

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I’ve got five more European countries to visit on this trip in the next two or three weeks as I head first to the Swedish Arctic Circle then into Estonia, etc. (The plan is to circumnavigate the Baltic Sea including the Gulf of Bothnia, though I’m missing out Russia) I’ll not ask everyone I meet about Britain and the EU, but if the subject comes up, maybe I’ll let you know.  Right now I’m in a beautiful Spanish restaurant in Frederikshavn on the north east of Denmark – deserted on Saturday afternoons – ready for a crossing to Gothenburg at 3.00am, just finishing the first Fischsuppe (guess) of many on this adventure.

(Want an adventure and think it’s out of reach?  http://powerchange.com/adventure/)

Posted in Uncategorized

Courage Always Triumphs.

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David Cameron reads the Gospel at the Queen’s 90th Birthday Thanksgiving Service.

So here we are in a post-referendum world. Of the 7000 million people on the planet, just a comparative handful of ‘little people’ on a little island off the coast of Europe have spoken with their hearts, and made a difference. Little people, each with just one vote. It’s called democracy.  Their courage changed the course of history. Things will never be the same again.

Courage always triumphs.

People who choose a life filled with courage will always win in the end. Over these last weeks, onslaught after onslaught of terrifying predictions were thrown at these courageous ones, and they STILL voted “No” to fear. The direst consequences, financial ruin, the inability to feed your kids, poverty in old age, the elites of pretty much anywhere did their very best to intimidate, rubbish, persuade and bully, but in those few quiet safe and sacred moments in the sanctity of a polling booth in our little Sussex village I ticked the Leave box, joined my heart with the risk-takers, and voted for a better – and quite possibly a more prosperous world.

Of course, we’ll never know what might have been, because no one can predict the future. Every decision you and I make is irreversible, so alternatives at that time and place no longer exist. There is only one life, and we are all living it.

Big Mistake. Huge.
Julia Roberts' famous Big Mistake Moment in the classic film "Pretty Woman"

Julia Roberts’ famous Big Mistake Moment in the classic film “Pretty Woman”

Just two weeks before the Brexit vote David Cameron publicly read these words of Jesus to a fearful world. “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after.”  He listened to another David, David Attenborough, read the words of poet Minnie Louise Haskins reminding him that going out into the darkness with his hand in God’s hand is “better than a light and safer than a known way.” In the vote of his and our lifetime, he chose away from a life of faith to lead us with a message of fear.  As Julia Roberts famously said in Pretty Woman when she had been treated as ‘trash off the street’ by an elite clothing store, “Big mistake. Huge.”

It cost David Cameron his career, and us a very good Prime Minister.  Let’s not make the same mistake ourselves.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

Minnie Louise Haskins

 

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Posted in In the News, Personal development, Poetry, Uncategorized

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