Contemplative Monk : Intentional Spirituality Transforms

So What Is Our True Self?

A Daily Contemplation

So what is our true self?
“Our true self is our spirit, our being, our essence, who we really are.”
~ Bob Holmes

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Readers and Contemplatives,

I hit the wrong button twice! The last two posts. I apologize for sending rough drafts, random thoughts, and musings.  It’s why I haven’t promoted this wee personal blog yet.

So would you like a  short daily shot of contemplation? Let me know in the comments if you do.

Here’s one:

A Daily Contemplation: From The Inside Out

“Our spiritual life always, always, always grows from the inside out.
Take time with eternity and cultivate your spiritual life in the garden of your heart.
And what does your spirituality grow?
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. This is the fruit of the Spirit and the character of God.



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Is It Truth Vs Fake Truth or Is It Something Else?

In this day of news and fake news, of facts and alternative facts, ever wonder why? It’s obvious we don’t all see the same, especially as Believers.

Here’s Why:

I submit to you it’s because we perceive the truth and experience life on different levels of awareness. 

Have you ever wondered where the left-wingers and the right-wingers come off with all their crazy views? Or wondered why we can’t just all get along? You can’t blame the Devil for this one.

The Truth is the truth wherever we may encounter it, but it’s at whatever level of awareness that we experience and perceive the truth that determines everything. Again, it’s our perception through which we perceive the truth, like clear or rose-colored glasses.

First Level Awareness

Do you perceive and experience what’s true with your amygdala, your small primitive brain? Do you experience a life of fearing God and fighting with the Devil? Are you plagued with fear? At first level awareness, the truth is anchored in our fears, our anger, and our pleasure.

Do you experience and perceive, spurred on by an angry god, taking pleasure in grinding your enemies into the dirt? Everything is suspect, everything is a conspiracy, and everything is a challenge that must be subdued and defeated.

Here the truth is married to God with superstition, using the Placebo Effect** to bolster our faith and prove our points. Here we pray to God like playing the slot machines. And if he answers, it’s like winning the Lottery.

I know people like this, and so do you. In fact, we’ve all been there. Actually, as our brain waves cycle, we’re usually there several times a day.

Speaking of Fundamentalist

Fighting Fundamentalists are a tribal people who follow the truth literally (as they see it). Do you read and experience Scripture from this experiential/awareness level?

This is why tribal groups can use children soldiers who’s brains haven’t developed yet. They’re easy to control, through fear, anger, and pleasure. This is why we can bomb innocent victims. This is why we can enslave people, underpay people, overtly and covertly, as long as they aren’t our tribe.

This is also why some tribal groups can have sister wives and such. Are you getting the point? Tribes are denominations.

Just because something works doesn’t mean it’s right. It works at our awareness functioning level. How we perceive and experience truth determines our own reality and belief systems.

When you’re ‘on the inside’ of a prevailing awareness of a tribe, it all makes sense. But ask yourself, Is this an open or a closed system? Is this sustainable? Am I flourishing?

The Solution is The Not Right or Wrong of Dualism

It’s not right or wrong. It’s how we perceive coming to God, experiencing God, and knowing the Eternal One.

Though our structures may nurture us, they do not define us. The Church is Living and specifically Living Christ, not an organization, nor a tribal denomination. It has been said truly, ‘the Church is an organism, not an organization.’

As we create our own reality from our belief systems. It’s time to deconstruct our presuppositions so we might see behind the curtain. Psalms say it this way:  The words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. If the word of God is tested and refined in a fire seven times, how much more our viewpoints and understanding of God. How is it that we think we get it when the God of all creation says something when our perspective is so small and so limited.

When the Apostle Peter tells us to grow up in our salvation. Does this mean relationally? Absolutely.

When the Prophet Isaiah tells us that As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts, Is Isaiah challenging us to gain God’s perspective and awareness? The Mind of Christ.

What is spirit is spirit, so that spiritual awareness is not merely mental or even intuitive awareness though it nurtures both. It is more. It is dwelling in Christ. It is having the perspective of Christ.

So here’s a prophetic word for you with ears to hear. Does this sound like an awareness level statement? It is.

From Tribes to Christ

There are tribes of Christ, but God is calling us into the very Oneness of Christ whereby we are saved. It is not your tribe or my tribe that is right. It is Christ alone, who is before all time and eternity, endlessly creating and flowing with life, who’s very source is love and light and living. Christ eternal, who Jesus gives us just a peek, and yes, access.

So we are called into being, belonging, wholeness, and home. We are called to live in this choreography, this living dance, right here and right now.

We are called to bring Christ to earth, heaven on earth, as we dwell with Christ in eternity, and in the body of our lives, we reveal Him: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is a conscious oneness as the Body of Christ.

At whatever level of awareness we are living during our day, will determine how we do this.

As Mister Eckhart says, ‘Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.’ And we?

We are the unfolding revelation of God, loving the world and welcoming them home, to join us in this dance of revival, renewal, and restoration…healing everything, because everything belongs.

You are the unfolding revelation of God to the world.




**Placebo Effect: “a beneficial effect, produced by a placebo drug or treatment like prayer, that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must, therefore, be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.” And Yes, God can heal us, but so can our belief, and here’s where we can move into superstition with rituals rather than faith, like the guy who hangs garlic to ward off evil.

And Yes, God can heal us, but so can our belief, and here’s where we can move into superstition with rituals rather than faith, like the guy who hangs garlic around his neck to ward off evil.

We tend to think of placebos in a negative context but the principle is totally positive.  For example, your cells have everything in them to fight cancer, and your belief can activate this. Just look at the Botox ads disclaimers in this positive context. It may surprise you. On the other end, many spiritualists depend on the placebo effect for their existence and don’t even know it.

Science is the spiritual director of our age. ~ Sister Joan Chittister



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Christianity In Three Parts

I love this new generation of Believers who are questioning Christianity and themselves at their very core. Where knowing God moves us into a deep mysticism and a deep therapeutic transformation at the very core of our being.

Probably the most revolutionary book I’ve found, besides Scripture is Falling  Upward by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM.

In it Fr. Richard argues for the structure we need for transformation.

Get this book!

The Three Levels of Jesus

Christianity Level One: Doing Jesus

I don’t know about you but I love doing Jesus. I love doing the forms and the good solid structure we’ve developed in Liturgical Worship, in Contemporary Worship, and in Bible work. Doing life together.

Christianity Level Two: Living Jesus

I also love living Jesus. I love just practicing what we preach: family, at home, at work, in politics, and in life. Living Jesus to everyone we meet.

Christianity Level Three: Becoming to Be Jesus

But most of all, I love being Jesus, where mysticism becomes therapy.

Where our mess is tested, refined, and proven again and again.

Where we learn to be comfortable holding our questions in God’s presence, even like Job.

Where our doubt deconstructs like a refiner’s fire, revealing the immortal diamond of God with grace and mercy within us.

Where we are restored as we walk in the eternal, creating with our creator.

Where we learn to Abide+, integrate, and flow in the eternal presence of God.

Living in Grace, Mercy, and Peace,


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Where Are We As The Church?


How Did We Get Here?

Have you ever wondered how we got to where we are as the Church?

This has been a constant question of mine for my last 50 years.

I’ve got relatives and friends who tell me it’s the Blessed Sacrament that saves us. Other’s see it in the expansive worship of groups like Hillsong, Bethel, and IHOP. I have one priest friend who tells me I’m going to Hell because I don’t receive the Eucharist from a Russian Orthodox Priest. I’ve talked to Snake Handlers who tell me that ‘the proof of being filled with the Holy Ghost’ is “the snakes don’t bite.” I have another friend who passionately tells me it’s by living the Whole Law as far as it’s possible without the Temple. My Baptist friends tell me it’s living what we believe. My Methodist friends tell me it’s living what we know. My Presbyterian friends tell me it’s pre-ordained. My Anglican friends tell me it’s living out the Liturgy. My Luthern friends tell me it’s living out our Confession. There are people on the street corners I pass every day with signs saying,  “Repent you brood of vipers in church or you’ll burn in the lake of fire forever.” Now that I’ve stepped on everybody’s ‘us and them’ toes…

This is NOT a binary put down

Listen up! It’s not who’s right or wrong. It isn’t as simple as that. But we all have seemingly endless denominations, non-denominations, and post-denominations who all say, “We have Jesus. We’re the real deal.”

So how did we get here?

I had an Aha moment last week that’s still unfolding and here it is: Someone said to me, “God meets us where we are,” and I told her she was right. God, however, said, ‘Deeper.’ I immediately saw that if I’m 300 lbs and receive Jesus, I’m still 300 lbs. If I’m a racist and receive Jesus, I’m still a racist. or If I’m superstitious, and receive Jesus, I’m still superstitious. And I heard, ‘Deeper.’

“God meets us where we are.”

Here’s my conclusion:

“Our unity is born in the presence of God and not in our states and stages.” ~ Bob Holmes

Our Three Story of Brain Awareness

At Worship on The Water ie The Flora-Bama Church, there is an incredible wisdom teacher, Dr. Wil Baker who I credit for this concept. I once asked him why he didn’t write it all down and he said, “Then I would have to defend it.”

I’m not a scientist so any inconsistencies and conclusions are not Dr. Wil’s’ but my own.  But I hope you will find this helpful.

Now as we start, first realize that this is a gross over-simplification and not a scientific fact, but I see three basic levels of awareness.

First Level: Our Survival Brain Awareness

Our survival brain awareness operates on fear, anger, and pleasure. If Jesus meets us and we are living mostly at this awareness level, I’m likely to see a God of hell fire and damnation. A God of great fear and judgment who rules from the outside in, top down. Jesus is other and salvation at best is seen as a distant heaven after death, as a great reward for pleasing God.

At the level of survival awareness, the upper levels are distant and far off, if seen at all. For examples, all you’ve got to do is look at Facebook when people fall into survival mode. Politics and Religion are two trigger points to lose your level of awareness. It’s all hands on deck and let’s destroy the enemy at all costs. Politicians and preachers are quick to use these tools because the results are immediate. Fear and anger are caught not taught.

At what level of awareness was your Church’s theology developed?

“We’re driven by fear or drawn by love. Which one sways your heart. When the bottom line has been defined, Which one will cause you to start.” ~ Bob Holmes

Second Level: Our Binary Brain Awareness

This is our normal, everyday awareness level. It is our linear, analytical, logical, right and wrong, black and white awareness of life. The whole Reformation was built on this awareness level of God.

What’s helpful to know is that from this awareness level, we can see everything below it so we can include our survival brain into the equation. What we can’t see is up to the third level, unless it’s an occasional glimpse of through our intuitive heart.

At this level, we experience Jesus and the Holy Spirit but God is sort of other and distant. Out dual brain can’t handle the Trinity of God. This affects our theology and practice in ways we can’t fully see or understand. Our binary brain is good at organization and laying out a six-year plan for growth and development 😉 but it is not good at comprehending the vast mystery of God experientially.

How is your experience unique and distinct with each person of the Trinity? Can you distinguish between the presence, or discern between the three?

Third Level: Our Whole Brain and Whole Hearted Awareness

“The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.” ~ Fritz Perls

As ‘God meets us where we are’, here is where we turn to our third level of awareness of God which is being whole brain and whole hearted. Where our everyday second level awareness distinguishes between opposites and distinguishes, our third level of awareness sees things as wholes, the unity and connectedness of all life. Where our second level is primarily working with time and space, our third level steps into the awareness of eternity. This is where we see and experience the mystery of God because God is all knowing, omnipresent, limitless beyond all time and space. But it’s also walking with God as with a friend in the cool of the day.

This is the awareness of saints and sages, and it is available to every one of us. This is the awareness of the restoration of all things.

Here unity, and wholeness and eternal abundant life are lived as heaven on earth, as the kingdom of life and light.

This, our third level of awareness, sees in awareness our first and second levels and includes them as a supported integration with the third level in what we call abundant life. This process is called spiritual integration.

I hope this is a help in seeing where we are is at what levels we have related to God. It determines what we see in Scripture, how we pray, but most of all how we abide in Christ.

At which level of awareness did you meet Jesus at, and at what awareness level are you primarily living at now?


Let me give you a quick example using this three story model: The fear of the Lord is clean and enduring forever.

Can you see how that would affect your relationship with God and your theology?



Photo: Christ Church Pensacola, Fl. Robert Holmes Photography




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