Brent , Owings Mills MD 09/21/08
If you happen to be one who doesn't believe in God, just keep living. On the day you pass away, you will certainly have an opportunity to confirm or reject your previous premise. Of course, if you happen to be wrong about it, it may too late to change your spiritual eternal destination.
LESTER , Baltimore MD 05/05/08
AUTHOR'S FOLLOW UP REPLY TO KATHLEEN
After reading your reply to my response, I get the sense that you want to have further discussions with me on the subject of God. If this is the case, please contact me by e-mail so that we can do so in a forum that will give us an opportunity to more fully elaborate on our views and experiences.
As I stated to you before, the God I speak of is real. His power is great. And, because of his great love for mankind, he is actively involved in the affairs of men, helping us to build good relationships with each other, settle our differences, and forgive each other. In my articles, I give Biblical examples of cases where God intervened in conflict situations, such as helping Solomon resolve the disagreement with the two harlots. In one article, I also mention how God helped Isaac resolve an intractible conflict he had with the men of Gerar over some wells.
These examples I use are more than just stories. I have experienced this same God of the Bible working mightily in my life, to help me resolve my disagreements. Also, in my ministry as an Elder, I have seen this same God move mightily in other people's lives. I know of situations where people have been able to overcome terrible abuse situations in their lives and forgive others and move on to have productive lives because of God's power and love. Over the years, I and other have found this scriptural passage to be true: "If a man's ways please God, he will make even his enemies to be at peace with him (Book of Proverbs, chapter 16, verse 7).
If you are interested in seeing other real life cases and instances where God is currently moving mightily in the affairs of men, I recommend that you look at the Transformation Videos that are produced by the Sentinel Group and George Otis (You can find them by the going to the Sentinel Grop Web-site). One of many locations highlighted is Uganda, Africa, where there are many accounts of people being healed of AIDS, who give credit to God. This same God who heals people of AIDS is the one we turn to to seek help, and ability to forgive each other.
This God that I describe is not sitting in heaven waiting to punish people for every little mistake they make. He is fair and just, loving and forgiving. However, he does hold men accountable for their wrong doing, which means that he will see the murderers and wrongdoers who refuse to turn from their wicked ways are punished.
Because I believe that God is almighty, and all of us men are fallible, human vessels, I cannot agree with your premises or implication we are "God-Self" or have the power to create any thing that we choose. If we, as mediators, all had this ability, we could make sure that every conflict we mediate would end up successful. Because we cannot do this, we need the help of an Almighty, all-wise God to help us.
As part of your justification to label us as Gods, you also quote Jesus as saying, "You can be like me and even greater". In all Bible translations I know of, it never says that Jesus said this. When he talked about his disciples, he always referred to them as humble servants and not as rulers. This is why he said to them, " A servant is not greater than his master" ( Gospel Of John 13, verse 16).
Based on my knowledge and experience, I also disagree with your inference that recognizing our sinfulness keeps us from being able to forgive each other. According to the scriptures of both Old and New Testament, it is our sin that causes us to do and say things that make people angry, and fight with us. This is why Provebrs 13, verse 10 says, "Only by pride comes contention".
Although sin has a place in causing our issues, God never intended for us to live in the constant fear and guilt that you speak of. He wants us to be free of this, and such freedom comes through REPENTANCE (which is the acknowledging and confession of sin, seeking God for forgiveness, with a willingness to forsake this behavior and turn away from it). Repentance was a key part of Jesus' message, which is why he always preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Gospel of Matthew chapter 4, verse 17). When we offer up sincere repentance, God can liberate us from the guilt, depression and fear we feel, and allow us to live lives of joy and peace. When people repent and address their problems or sins, it does not keep them in bondage or make it harder for them to forgive. It actually puts them in the posture where they will be able to forgive others even more. I have seen this work in my life, and in countless numbers of people's lives in my years as an ordained minister. Thank you for your sharing with me, and I hope this gives you more clarity on my views on God.
Kathleen , Dallas TX 05/02/08
Response to Lester
I speak of God, Lester, as an "essence" as LIFE is in All That Is and flows through every living thing in our Universe.
I speak to the fact that we can not separate the enegry of life from All That IS and therefore, believe that my God source is absolutely with in me at all times, guiding me when I listen to that still small voice within. To understand the concept that one can not "kill a soul" allows for the option of believeing that we can return on this plain called earth, constantly having to learn about our selves in action, by the decisions we make on a moment to moment basis and therfore have to become response-able for all of these or there will be consequenses.
I also believe, GOD Is everywhere, and in my humble opinion not someone or thing in the heavans looking sown on us and /one that punishes us for making mistakes for our free will choice. we endure those choices every moment... The old paradigm that God is going to punish us if we do something wrong, is a God I do not know. He gave us all free will, and in doing so can not interfere with what we do. As Jesus said, YOU CAN BE LIKE ME AND EVEN GREATER,which means for me, we are all walking spiritual beings having an earthly exerience and in doing so, must reap what we sew in/through our interactins with our collective soul groups and families.
To for-give to your self for what you may have done to another that caused them harm, you will have to know how that feels. And, in feeling the results of your thoughts, words and deeds, you RE-Member to yourself who you truely are, that is a GOD-SELF walking in a Hue-Man Being form.. (Light Man in Being form).
There is a wonderful collection of books that you may enjoy reading for your edification. They are the collection from The Conversations With GOD series by Neil Walsh.
Forgiving to yourself, knowing that we are players in this play called life, we are all responsible for our actions simply put, gives us the power to create anything we choose,And thus allows us to finally become repsonsible for ourselves and each other in a balanced/aware/empowered way.
When we are made to feel less than and wrong about who we are, sin-full and living in constant fear, which are most of the ideologies promoted by most secular religions, the ability for us to forgive eachother and move on usually does not become a living realitiy. I suggest that my God, who is in all things and is the literal "essence of LIFE" provides for that awareness and again, can not be separte from any of us, no matter the religious secular belief. We are all brothers and sisters of THE ONE.
LESTER , Baltimore MD 04/23/08
AUTHOR'S REPLY TO KATHLEEN
Thank you for your important contribution to the dialogue on this subject. Your comments on the "esssence of spirituality" have given me this opportunity to share more on God's role in resolving conflict and making us able to forgive each other. The God I serve and speak about in these articles is more than an energy source. He is real, his love for us leads him to be actively involved in the affairs of men, and his power to help us is great. Because of how God continuosly has worked mightily in my life to help me resolve the conflicts in my life with others and to build good relationships, I speak about God by experience and not by theory. I agree with your premise that we all can learn as we go through the difficulty journey of suffering from pain and learning to forgive each other. But, I do also believe that God plays a vital role in healing us, and making it possible for us to prosper in life even when others mistreat us or do evil to us.
Kathleen , Dallas TX email@example.com 04/23/08
Sprituality and Forgiveness
Whether we are Christians, Buddists, study the Koran,Jewish or otherwise, the essence of Spirituality is to be aware that when we hold the view that there is a Higher power, A Source Energy that that Enedrgy/ Essence that makes our hearts beat exits and we all have that Source energy within us or we do not exist in a human form, then when dealing with eachother in conflicts, we can see/feel the results of our upbringing, societal views which are developed and held strongly as our own and unquestioned since age 2.
It is through the encountering of the hurts, conflicts, despair that we can clearly "know" how something feels and then decide on a much deeper level, as to "What have I learned and how does this experience serve me in my awareness of who I AM"?
To be able to forgive another is a lovely concept and much clarity is needed within the emotional mind to have the peace of understanding before forgiveness is achieved.
To recognise that the source of pain, truely is an "opportunity"to engage another, and/or provides the option for inner clarity of our beliefs/actions. We have the opportunity to experience reciprocity in every moment as we cohabitate this planet.
What most of us fail to re-member to ourselves is that reciprocity happens throughout the "soul's journey and is never forgotten. So whether one believes in Reincarnation or not, (I am a therapist and have practiced Regression Therapy for over 30 years), when something horrible happens to us, we have an opportunity to ask the questions: "What is / was my involvement in this stituation and what have I emotionally learned? Will I ever do this action to another and can I forgive myself for having caused this particular harm to another? Can I forgive them/ eventually be in gratitude for their providing the opportunity for my inner awareness of how this feels? And finally, will I ever do this action to another, have I learned this lesson on a soul level and then again, be in gratitude for the awareness."
When we can be in the final place of gratitude and at peace with what has taken place to us for our emotional clarity and awareness, then for-giving- peace to ourselves and then other is possible.
Ru , Nashville TN 02/19/08
God's Role in Mediation
I am a Christian and believe that God supernaturally intercedes, and gets in the middle of many circumstances ansd situations whether at church or in our day to day activities...I have experienced too much to say otherwise...even when I was not in obedience of HIS will for my life...without God intervening and helping to guide us on a daily basis we would be in a worse state than we already are...it is up to us whether we choose to cry out to the Father!!!...God not only is the great physician BUT also a mediator...
It is good to be open to other forms of spirituality. But to think of "unseen forces" (or what seems unexplainable at any given moment) as "God" is too easy. Especially as the personified deity that would be listening to each and everyone of us.
My experience brings me to believe people's brains do work harder than we can perceive, especially when in a group breaking through the delusions of individual thought.
Tom Bartels, Tucson AZ TBartels2@cox.net 11/08/07
God In Mediation
This article caught my attention because I do believe there is some kind of spirituality component to mediation. I'm a dedicated believer in transformative mediation, and I'm also a Christian. In my experiece as a mediator, I have seen parties in conflict completely fail in recognition and transformation, yet somehow, at that awkward moment in all mediations, they have begun to talk about what they might be willing to do....What I thought would certainly be a failed mediation, turned into a mediation with both parties coming to a resolution of their conflict. No matter how hard I worked as a mediator, that resolution did not come from a transformation, but from what I believe was an inspiration. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. The God of Solomon does live!
ana schofield, olympia wa 11/03/07
About God and all that Jazz
What if you don't believe in God; never have and likely never will! What if, during the occasional transformation of one or both parties toward reconciliation, you believe in a natural selection of information by the parties, related to survival? What if we imagine that particle physics plays a part in the whole? What if all crutches are removed and mediators are alone in the room, with parties who have no desire to reconcile? What if.....?
Jonathan , Brunswick ME firstname.lastname@example.org 11/01/07
God's role in mediation
While the "God of Solomon" happens to come from my religious traditon, I have many colleagues of different religious persuasions (or none) who ALSO talk about the inexplicable transformations that sometimes take place in the mediation room. Whether we believe in the God of Solomon, or Allah and his prophet Mohammed, or a "higher power," or the tao of the universe seems unimportant to me. The Spirituality Section of ACR and the many spirit-based conflict resolution workshops held throughout the country bear witness to our field's recognition thast unseen forces often guide the parties and the mediators. Explicity voicing that recognition shows the growth of the profession. Thanks to this author for his contribution
Niketa Wharton, richmond Va email@example.com 11/01/07
I concur with everything Lester related in his article. I too am a Christian mediator and I have seen and experienced the hand of God in my mediation sessions. In fact before each mediation or other ADR event, I turn the matter over to God and ask Him to be the catalyst to bring about change in hearts, minds and attitudes in the particular event. It does not always result in a resolution of the conflict, but the conflicting parties are better able to relate to each other after the ADR event than they did before it.
I believe that if more mediators were aware of God's role in conflict resolution and understood the power of God in that role, we would see more meaningful results from mediation and other ADR processes.
L , Plano TX firstname.lastname@example.org 10/25/07
Listening to a Higher Authority
As a mediator-in-training, I often am amazed that my classmates neglect of their spirituality as a tool to harness in a successful mediation. I maintain that opening my spirit (in addition to my eyes, ears, and mind) provides a deeper, clearer understanding of all clients needs.