ARE YOU READY TO GET IN THE GAME? (SUPER BOWL SUNDAY)
In the Introduction to Practical Application of Science of Mind, Dr. Ernest Holmes wrote: "A God that is worshipped on Sunday and promptly forgotten on Monday is not enough. A belief and conviction in a Power greater than we are must be such that it pertains to our every endeavor. The tremendous force and power that is inherent in Life is not a sometime thing - but is in everything at all times. This we need to become convinced of, and our conviction must be brought down to earth. And the application of our conviction in daily living is the most practical and important thing we could ever undertake."a
I think those last two ideas describe my mission every Sunday morning . . . ". . . Our conviction must be brought down to earth. And the application of our conviction in daily living is the most practical and important thing we could ever undertake."
My goal each week is to help each one of us deepen our conviction in this Power and Presence for Good we call God and to give us practical ways to apply it in our daily lives - not just on Sunday mornings! Unity is a "faith, a philosophy and a way of life," not just a feel-good Sunday morning experience.
So this morning and this entire month, I ask, ARE YOU READY? Are you ready to deepen that conviction? Are you ready to apply it? And as a result, are you ready to . . .
. . . receive God's highest blessings?
. . . experience deeper and more profound love?
. . . live from a higher level of beingness?
. . . be a transformative light in the world?
Are you? Are you ready?!? Maybe a more pressing question to ask this particular Sunday morning is . . .Are you ready to get in the game?! Well, are you?!
How many football fans do we have here? Who's going to a Super Bowl Party this afternoon? How many New England Patriots fans do we have? How many Los Angeles Rams fans?
I love the joke about the person who asks the minister one Super Bowl Sunday what does God do when both football teams enter into fervent prayer in the locker room right before the game begins?
To which the minister replied:
"She gets to sit back and enjoy one heck of a good ball game."
Today I want to talk about getting ready to get in the game -- not a football game, but rather than Game of Life -- but using football as an analogy seemed appropriate this morning.
Are you ready to get in the Game of Life? Not just to prepare for some interesting interludes, but to prepare to live fully, freely, in a transcendent way? I love this idea:
"Life is not a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving
safely in a pretty and well preserved body.
but rather to skid in broadside,
thoroughly used up, totally worn out,
and loudly proclaiming:
Wow, What a Ride! "
Are you ready for this kind of life?
In football, the Coach says, "Let's go, Rev Donna, get in the game." What does it take to Get in the Game??
First, we must suit up
Then, we must know the rules and the plays
Finally, we must realize that it takes practice and discipline
1. SUIT UP - BE PREPARED!
A player in today's Super Bowl game has to suit up -- has to be prepared -- if he wants a shot at doing something great. Helmet, mouth guard, cleats, knee pads, elbow pads, shoulder pads, etc. For those of you who have been to services here for a while, you know that I've put on a wizard costume to make a spiritual point, but I'm not going to put on cleats, a helmet, knee pads, etc. today.
Spiritually speaking, however, how do we "suit up" to prepare ourselves for the game of life? By being willing to accept responsibility and make the changes that may be necessary. let's look . . .
1A. ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY -
Jesus once said: "Ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free."b . .
To which Religious Science Minister David Owen Ritz once added, "But first it will really tick you off!"c (his word was a little stronger)
The Truth that will set you free is that you are 100% responsible for your life. For your joy/your sadness; for your prosperity/your lack; for your health/disease. See, Rev. David was right! That kind of information can tick us off, can't it? It is also the only thing that can set us free!
There are many, many books that have had profound influences on me, but two of them are Greg Baers' Wise Man: The Truth About Sharing Real Love and Jack Canfield's Success Principles. The fundamental tenet in both books - presented in very different contexts -- is: Accept responsibility! In fact that is Success Principle No. 1 out of 64!
If something doesn't turn out as you had planned, you can suit up for the game by asking yourself:
How did I create, promote, allow or "step in" that?
What was I thinking?
What were my beliefs?
What did I say or not say?
What did I do or not do to create that result?
What do I need to do differently next time to get the result I want?
And then . . .
1B.. BE WILLING TO CHANGE -
Just like the players change into their uniforms, we need to change into new ways of being.
Woodrow Wilson once said said: "To do things today exactly the way you did them yesterday saves thinking."d
Do we want to save thinking, and repeat past patterns or do we want new experiences?
As you've looked at the above questions. . .
What needs to change in you in order for you to live more fully, more freely, more joyously?
What needs to change in you for you to be open to God's Great Good!?
For you to experience more blessings?
Deeper and greater love?
What needs to change in you so that you can live from a higher level of beingness and thereby be a greater light in the world?
In the paradox of loving/accepting self as is and being open to change, I am reminded of the lyrics of an old, empowering song: I love myself the way I am and still I want to grow . . . "
Now that we've suited up, it's pretty important to . . .
2. KNOW THE RULES AND THE PLAYS
Jack Nicklaus: "Know the fundamentals of the game and stick to them. Band-Aid remedies never last."e (That's my nod to the other sports event happening this weekend - the FBR Open.)
In the game of football, there is so much strategy and there is so much to know and understand. There are entire books written about . . .
the 6-1 defense, the 5-2 defense,
the 4-3 defense, the 4-4 defense,
the man-to-man defense, the west coast offense,
the red zone offense, the goal line offense,
the no huddle offense,
. . . .not to mention . . . .
man blitzes, zone blitzes, nicklebacks
and don't forget the special teams, which, of course, everyone knows are . . .
the kicking team, the kick-off team,
the kick-off return team, the punt team,
the punt-return team, the field goal team,
and the point-after-touchdown team.
"In order to be successful at the game of football, you have to know something about the game."
Ernest Holmes: "We are made out of and from Life. As effect must partake of the nature of its cause, so we must partake of the Divine Nature from which we spring. We did not create our nature. We cannot change its inherent reality; we are what we are and we use this nature for better or for worse. Being what we are, there are certain responsibilities that go with our natures -- certain obligations; if our thought is creative and if we have choice and if we are unfolding to a discovery of our true nature, then the obligation and responsibility of this nature imposes upon us freedom or temporary bondage. The Science of Mind makes a tremendous claim when it states that the individual should be free from the bondage of sickness, poverty and unhappiness. It does, however, carefully set forth the conditions under which freedom operates and the laws governing life, stating in no uncertain terms that unless we understand these conditions and obey these laws, we will not receive full benefit from its teachings."f
In order to get in the game of life more joyfully and healthily, it helps to know something:
1st There is an Essence, a Power, a Presence - Ernest Holmes calls it: First Cause, Spirit, Mind, or that invisible Essence, that Ultimate Stuff and Intelligence from which everything comes, the Power behind all creation - the Thing Itself -- God!
2nd The Nature of this Essence, Presence Power behind all creation is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and all those things that flow from LOVE: peace, order, harmony, abundance, grace, balance, beauty, truth, wholeness . . .
3rd This Essence, Presence, Power behind all creation operates through its own Law, a Process that simply responds to the directives it is given. "The Law is the Servant of the Spirit."
4th This Essence, Presence, Power behind all creation (both the Spirit and Law) resides within each of us.
5th Finally, we connect with this Essence, Presence, Power behind all creation and use it through our consciousness (thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, values, actions).
Therefore infinite possibilities are inherent within us. The healing you long for, the overcoming you desire, the abundance you wish to see in your life -- these do not call for a miracle, but for application of these Five Rules of Life, perhaps at a higher level than we have yet known, but it's that way also if you study music or mathematics or play football successfully.
Jesus is often considered to be a worker of miracles, but this is a sort of misunderstanding. Holmes once wrote that what seems supernatural will seem quite natural when we understand it.
Thinking Jesus did something supernatural places a barrier between his application of these Rules of Living and our ability to apply them as well. If we think of Jesus as reaching up into heaven by some special dispensation, and calling forth food for five thousand people, then this puts us in a rather hopeless position. It also fails to hear his message, "Think not that I came to destroy the law; I came not to destroy it but to fulfill it."g
He did not break laws, nor did he operate as a favored son; he knew there is no special law for anyone. He knew these five "rules of life," he used them and he came to show us how to use them as well!
Before we could fly airplanes, we had to know about the law of aerodynamics.
Before we could light and heat our homes, we had to know about the law of electricity.
Before we could float tons of steel (called a ship) we had to know about the law of displacement.
Those laws always existed, but before they could be used for our good, they had to be understood. So, our second idea this morning is to understand, understand, understand the rules. Take classes! Read books. Ask questions. Think deeply!
3. PRACTICE AND DISCIPLINE
How many of you actually played any sport in high school or college? For you all, I have a question: Did it require more practice and discipline than you initially thought it would take to get ready to play??
Well, that could be said of walking this spiritual path as well. Jack Kornfield in his book, A Path with Heart: "We discovered that transformation of consciousness required a great deal more practice and discipline than we initially imagined."h
In Marianne Williamson's book, A Return to Love, she said: "Love takes more than crystals and rainbows, it takes discipline and practice. It's not just a sweet sentiment from a Hallmark card. It is a radical commitment to a different way of being, a mental response to life that is completely at odds with the rest of the world."i
In Ernest Holmes' book Creative Mind and Success, he talks about owning our own minds! In a direct, somewhat in your face, no mincing words kind of way, Holmes says what we need is more backbone and less wishbone!j
More backbone (which takes practice and discipline) to take control of our own thinking. More backbone to focus on the kingdom of heaven which is the TRUTH instead of the hell we may be experiencing in that moment which is the CONDITION. But that isn't how it works for many of us.
Here's how it does instead. We desire something; pray for it for a while; think a positive thought or two about it; but the majority of the time we are whining either verbally or mentally about the problem! Yes? Wishing for a change, but not having the mental discipline to create - not practicing what we preach!
That's what Holmes means by having more backbone that wishbone.
I am intimately familiar with this. I played victim for years, wishing that my life would change. I even did affirmations about it. But it wasn't until I finally took responsibility for my life and how I was creating the disfunction in it that it changed. I grew a backbone!
So, once again, I ask you this morning: Are you Ready? Are you Ready to Get in the Game of Life!? To live from a higher order of being? To experience God's wonder, joy and blessings? To live in deeper and more profound love?
Today, we set the stage:
- by suiting up through the willingness to be responsible and to change;
- by knowing the rules; and
- by having the discipline to practice living from the rules, even when it gets tough!
Throughout the rest of the month, we will continue this exploration, which I am really looking forward to . . . because I don't know about you, but I am ready!!
aDr. Ernest Holmes Practical Application of Science of Mind
cReligious Science Minister David Owen
fErnest Holmes Science Of Mind p. 107
hJack Kornfield A Path with Heart
iMarianne Williamson A Return to Love
jErnest Holmes Creative Mind and Success