for Life - Faith Resource Group
"If we are to respect others' religions as we would have them to respect our own, a friendly study of the world's religion is a sacred duty."
~ Gandhi ~
Welcome to the Faith Resource Group at Resources for Life. This is where you can
find information about various spiritual paths. Learn more about various world religions and beliefs. Choose from a wide variety of informative and encouraging faith resource
Start Here [Top]
To get started, we
recommend that you consider the
- Purpose of Faith. We feel that the purpose
of faith is to encourage, inspire, instruct, equip, strengthen, refine,
and motivate individuals and groups to achieve more than they could
without faith, so people can more effectively improve their lives in
tangible ways and help make the world a better place for everyone. Your
faith should help to improve all areas of your life (see
the Site Map for some examples).Searching? If you are searching for the
right religious home for you, we encourage you to find someone who is
supportive, but impartial and grounded to act as an anchor while you
explore various religious perspectives. This person can support and
encourage you as a Faith Coach (see #3 below). Your search could involve
an exploration of various expressions of Christianity (for example) to
find the Church that seems to best inspire and equip you. Or, perhaps
you don't even know what religion you want to grow in. Consider the process like very
formal dating. Don't become too committed, involved, or infatuated with
any faith too quickly. It is helpful to have a defined
'engagement' period where you learn more about the faith. Consider
taking the 'Belief-O-Matic' faith quiz [see Links below]
to learn more about your own beliefs. One approach is to write down on
paper what your ideal religion would be, and then try to find out if
such a religion exists.Faith Coach. Find someone to meet with on a regular basis to
discuss your faith. Your meetings can be weekly, monthly, or even
quarterly, depending on your interest. Consider someone who is neutral
and unbiased who will allow you some latitude as you explore. Contact
us if you need help finding a faith coach. [click
- Faith Services. Consider making regular use of the resources
available on this page. Sign up for e-mail newsletters. Find the faith
site that most interests you. We suggest starting
with BeliefNet. [click
Find out what religion you really are!
- A Tree. Faith is a tree that provides us
protection from the storm. It serves as a landmark and offers fruit for
our soul. As we care for the tree, it grows and produces fruit. As we
eat the fruit, it gives us strength and becomes part of us. We enjoy
it's beautiful blossoms and fragrance.
- A Fuel Cell Motor. Faith is similar to a
fuel cell engine. We put fuel into the engine and the engine gives us
motivation, encouragement, inspiration, joy, strength, and courage. The
fuel is created by investing time in religious study, fellowship,
worship, prayer, or a walk in the park.
- A Mountain. Our life-long journey toward
greater maturity in faith and spirituality is similar to hiking up a
mountain. As we climb higher, we can look back and see where we've been.
Our view seems to broaden. Like looking back on our life, we see the big
picture in 20/20 hindsight. Yet the path ahead, rises above us and like
the future, is not quite as clear as what lies behind. It takes
persistence to climb the mountain. We rest and think along the way, but
keep climbing. It might be easier to descend, or to give up and not
climb higher. Yet we move ahead inspired by the examples of those who
have gone before us.
- A Landscape. The diversity of religious
beliefs is a colorful and diverse geo-historical landscape similar to
the physical world we live in. In this landscape there are mountains and
valleys, each with unique terrain, vegetation, and landmarks. Each faith
has its positive and negative aspects. Each faith is like a garden that
has been planted and cared for over time by those who follow that faith.
While each faith 'garden' is different and unique, there are some
fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables that are common among them. Some
people wander the terrain never finding a home. Other people remain in
one area their entire life. Some just eat from the garden without giving
much back. Others work their own plot and help others as well. Some
people live in areas where two religions meet and combine. This can
produce a synergistic and complementary environment. A kind of
cross-pollination with good results. Sometimes it produces dangerous
results like war, so that one who sojourns or lives there is like
someone climbing cliffs where stormy seas and unforgiving rocky shore
- A Relationship with God. Faith is a
relationship with God where we read religious scriptures and texts to
learn how to grow in the relationship. Like reading a book on building a
better marriage, we read texts that will help us develop a mature and
fulfilling relationship with God. Over time, like a couple who have been
married many years, we almost know what the other person is thinking. We
gain a sense of what God would want us to do in a certain situation,
even if it isn't easy or comfortable. We make personal sacrifices for
God out of love and gratitude. Over time, our love grows and the
relationship becomes more satisfying and meaningful. We might even keep
a journal of our thoughts, making a record of things we have learned and
are thankful for.
Faith Is Not... [Top]
Defined By Institutions. When asked about
one's personal religious beliefs, a common response is to recite a
memorized list provided by a religious institution that begins with the
phrase, "We believe . . .." When one describes their own personal faith
with the words "We believe" they have probably adopted a pre-scripted
belief system that has been defined for them by others. It is similar to
the blind obedience that cults demand of followers. A person's personal
faith should be as unique as their fingerprint and will very likely
reflect the variety of experiences that have helped shape a person's
- One True Path. Some people believe that
there is only one true path, religious practice, or theology that will
lead a person to God, salvation, and ultimately to heaven,
enlightenment, or eternal bliss. According to this perspective, all who
do not follow the one true religion are dammed and condemned to an
eternity of suffering. Because of the problems associated with the 'One
True Path' perspective, we do not encourage people to get caught in this
whirlpool of thought that is inevitably physically and spiritually
destructive for individuals and the earth. Here are some of the negative
aspects to this perspective:
- Harmful Side Effects. This view can spawn
a variety of unpleasant side effects such as: sectarianism,
divisiveness, isolationism, hopelessness, fanaticism, infighting,
judgmentalism, religious arrogance, excessive proselytizing, compulsive
perfectionism, fear about the fate of 'unsaved' loved ones, extremism,
fear of hellfire, and even war as an effort to snuff out those who are
leading the world astray.Carelessness. If the view is accompanied
by a belief that salvation comes through faith in a particular deity or
prayer, and that salvation is irrevocable, then this view could produce
lawlessness, irresponsible behavior, or at least a careless attitude.
Consider that criminals swear on a Bible in court. If they actually
believe in the Bible, then how could they have knowingly committed a
criminal act? Answer: religiosity is not always synonymous with lawful
behavior, sometimes the results are quite the opposite.Apathy. This viewpoint is usually
accompanied by a belief that the end of the world is inevitable. This,
understandably, produces an apathy about improving the world we live in,
and, therefore, tries to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The entire
earth becomes a 'disposable planet' that will one day be replaced by a
new one. The motto: "Think locally, be apathetic globally."
- Fear and Uncertainty. Considering that
there are thousands of religions to choose from, according to this
perspective, your chances for salvation are very slim. The only way to
alleviate your fears is to fully convince yourself that you are right
(and everyone else is wrong). Here are a few questions that people
struggle with or hold to this view:
- Should a person follow the religion of their
family and upbringing?Should a person follow popular opinion and
choose one of the religions that seems to have the greatest following?How much leniency does God allow for
theological error? Perhaps you chose the correct religion, but the
wrong denomination or sect.
- What is sin and how much sin does God permit?
Here are some links to other resources.
- BeliefNet. An online community for numerous
faith groups. [Click Here]
- Bible Gateway - onilne Bible reference
for Christian scriptures. [Click
- Inspiration Peak. This is a great
site for quotes, writings, and information that will inspire you to
climb higher in your faith. [Click
Take Off Your Shoes by Gregory Johnson (20040303mo)
When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he
spoke to him from a burning bush and said, "Take off your sandals, for the place
where you are standing is holy ground." (Exodus 3:5b)
Moses was surprised at God's request and apprehensive
about his ability to serve God in such a capacity. So, Moses begins to challenge
God's judgment on the matter asking God if He had
fully thought through every aspect of the plan.
Even into the next chapter (26 verses later) Moses is still challenging God,
saying, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you
have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." (Exodus 4:10)
Moses was convinced that he did not have the experience and skill to handle the
job that God was calling him to.
Is God calling you to a place and/or vocation where you've never gone before? If so, he may want you to take off your shoes.
Your shoes remind you of where you've been. Your shoes
remind you of who you are. And, your shoes express what you are skilled to do.
What do shoes tell you about a person? There are bowling shoes, dancing shoes,
hiking shoes, biking shoes, construction shoes, golfing shoes, dress shoes, big
shoes (for people who are older and have more experience), little shoes (for
people who are young and don't have experience),
expensive shoes for people of position, and old shoes worn by people who can't
afford new shoes. A horse with shoes is fit to walk on a paved road. A horse
without shoes is not.
Our shoes can mislead us. They can make us over confident or they can make us
feel unnecessarily insecure or insufficient for a task.
This is why God asks that we take off our shoes to go where we've not gone before. The shoes we will wear, God must provide. They are
unlike any others we've seen before. They are unique
to what God has called us to. Like Abraham, we are sometimes called to follow God into the unknown. Like Abraham (and Sarah), we may even laugh at the absurdity
of God's plan (Genesis 17:17, 18:12). We don't know whether we will need hiking shoes or
dance shoes. God knows. This is how life with God is. It can be unpredictable.
Yet, just as God equipped Moses and gave him the favor he needed to accomplish
what he was called to, God can help prepare us for the road ahead.
When we go to sleep at night, we rest in and trust in God. We've done all we can do. At this point, we take off our shoes. There is
a time in life when we need to rest in God, and take off the shoes of our labors
and vocation - to wait on God, as He fits us with new shoes.
Adon Olam - Master of the World [Top]
Many religions recognize G‑d as the
creator of the world. Adon Olam (Master of the World) is a very old poem that is recited by Jews every day at the
beginning of Shacharis, the morning prayers. While we are not certain who the
author of this poem is, most authorities attribute it to Rabbi Shlomo ibn
Gabirol, the great poet of 11th century Spain. The poem is recited before
Shacharis to recall the memory of Avraham our Father, who was the first to call
HaShem "Adoni" - "My Master" and who instituted the Shacharis prayers.
Master of the World who was king,
before any form was created.
At the time when He made all through His will, then
His name was called 'King'.
And after all is gone, He, the Awesome One, will reign
And He was, and He is, and He will be in splendor.
And He is One, and there is no second, to compare to
Him or be His equal.
Without beginning, without end, to Him is the power
And He is my G‑d and my living Redeemer, and the Rock
of my fate in times of distress.
He is my banner and He is a refuge for me, my portion
on the day I cry out,
In His hand I entrust my spirit, when I sleep and when
And my soul shall remain with my body, HaShem is with
me and I am not afraid.
Fulfilling Your Mission [Top]
"To be a wholesome and healthy person, your body and
soul must work in harmony. We need not choose one over the other,
indulgence or abstinence; we can and must merge body and soul. And this
means uniting the body and soul to fulfill the mission for which we were
all put on earth: to lead a meaningful, productive, and virtuous life by
making this physical world a comfortable home for spirituality and G‑dliness.
Every one of us fulfills this mission using his or her unique abilities
and talents, whether a person is a teacher or a parent, a businessperson
or a scientist."
"If you were to suspend your senses of sight,
hearing, smell, taste, and touch, what would you be left with? Initially,
this may be a terrifying thought - that you would be left with nothing.
But you are not left with nothing, you are left with yourself. We only
need our senses to interact with the world outside ourselves. You don't
need eyes to see yourself or ears to hear yourself. You know you are
there, without using any sensory tools; it is simply an awareness, a
totally separate sense. So we are fully alive without our senses. Without
the soul, though, there is no life. . . . The soul also teaches humility.
Whereas the body is selfish (desires to feed, protect, and find pleasure
for itself). It (the soul) provides us with the capacity to rise above
ourselves, to see others' needs and to respond with sensitivity. Without a
soul, the body's selfish desires can enslave and ultimately destroy us.
The soul is our transcendent side, always reaching upward like the candle
flame, always trying to reconnect us with G-d. The body may try to keep us
earthbound, but the soul has the power to lift us above and beyond. . . .
The body and soul are in perpetual battle; all human conflict stems from
the dichotomy of body and soul, the tension between our corporeal selves
and the need for transcendence. . . . To the soul, the body is initially a
hulking presence in constant need of indulgence. While the soul want to
reach for spiritual ecstasy, the body needs to eat an sleep. To the body,
the soul is initially a nuisance, a conscience, that is always limiting
the body's behavior. . . . Why would G-d create the potential for such a
conflict? Because the soul needs to be challenged and the body refined,
and the tension between them ultimately brings out the best in both.
Ultimately, the body and the soul must realize that they are each stronger
with each other than without. . . . The only way to unite body and soul is
to recognize that G-d is far higher than our limited selves, far greater
than both body and soul. This requires a degree of humility, for a person
tends to be self-serving by nature. The soul, because of its transcendent
nature, can rise above selfishness more easily than the body, and can
discipline the body, through study and deed, to recognize its true mission
(to heal the earth). Only then can the body rise to its true prominence -
when it serves as a vehicle for the soul instead of acting under its own
power, energized (controlled and governed) by its own needs."
The above is a compilation of excerpts (with some
added comments) from the book Toward a Meaningful Life, The Wisdom
of the Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, adapted by Simon
Jacobson. (Pages 5-10)A thought: If the root cause of evil in the world is
selfishness which leads to greed, war, control, fear, etc., then perhaps
the root cure is a body that serves the soul yielded to God. (20030102th)
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