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Your Best Life Now

Your Best Life Now

Bio

I'm an Author... Leadership Coach... Counsel to Non-Profits, Faith-based Organizations and Congregations... Adjunct Professor of Communication at the University of Kentucky... Spiritual Teacher... Inspirational and Motivational Speaker.

But not always in this order.

On the university campus, I teach students the Art of Communication. In my public talks, however, I teach leaders the Art of Leading; I teach everyone the Art of Living...so that... when you come to the end...

and, you will come to the end...

You're able to look back on life feeling... Fulfilled... Accomplished... Content, Peaceful, and Happy, too...

Knowing your brief but important journey has made this world a more... Conscious... Compassionate, and... Charitable place.

What could possibly be more important than this?

Interfaith Spirituality: Interview with Author Tom Ziemann

posted by smcswain

His name is Tom Ziemann (pronounced “Zee – Man”). I’m not exactly sure when we met. I do know, however, how we met. It was on Facebook. When? Maybe a couple of years ago, but that’s about all I can […]

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Hell No, I Do Not Believe in Hell

posted by smcswain

I think I have finally decided that to believe in hell, as I once did, is really the admission that Love does not exist in you. How could it? HELL? HELL NO! Just imagine. You’re in the imaginary heaven (I […]

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Can I Trust Faith Healers I See on Television?

posted by smcswain

No! That’s the short answer. Almost without exception, faith healers are charlatans or just plain misguided spiritual imposters. Faith Healers are Imposters That is not to say your faith plays no part in healing. It does. The role of faith […]

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The Spiritually-Mature Person

posted by smcswain

Luke 10:38-42 New English Translation (NET Bible) Jesus, Martha, Mary and the Spiritually-Mature Person 38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. 39 She had […]

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Detours to Avoid on the Spiritual Journey: “The Easy Path” – Post Two

posted by smcswain

Jesus was “driven” by the Spirit into the wilderness, as the Gospel writer Matthew describes in detail (Matt. 4:1ff). That wasn’t by limousine either. But, as I pointed out in the first of this four-part post, life will take you, […]

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Roads to Avoid on the Spiritual Journey – “Easy Street”

posted by smcswain

“So many roads. So many detours. So many choices. So many mistakes,” says the actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Yes, and on the spiritual journey, there are four roads, mistakes, and detours to avoid. But what are they? They are the […]

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Bliss Beyond Belief: An Interview with Noelle Amendola

posted by smcswain

She lives in a travel home, along with her husband. They sold their real house, left their jobs, and took to the road. Now, they travel from city to country to city, bearing a message of freedom, joy, bliss. Her […]

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Sunday Morning Spirituality

posted by smcswain

For two decades, I have crisscrossed this country giving my best effort at counseling and guiding churches representing every denominational persuasion, Evangelical, Protestant and Roman Catholic. I have sought to serve churches with one pastoral leader and as small as […]

What Does It Mean to Be a Spiritual Person?

posted by smcswain

The first thing God said to Moses was, “Take off your shoes” (Exodus 3:5). Why? Freshly laid carpet? Hardly, although sometimes I think that Hank, our newest dachshund family member could show a little more respect for his new home […]

Chaos Without…Contentment Within?

posted by smcswain

Chaos without? Contentment within! Now that’s the goal of all goals, is it not? So, why is it, that your life and mine has more of the former and too little of the latter? This morning, for example, I had […]

Your God is Dead! Just a Little Pre-Easter Thought

posted by smcswain

Your GOD is Dead! YOUR GOD IS DEAD! That’s what the bumpersticker declared on the back of the 1970’s VW van covered with colorful paint. I’m not sure which was holding the hippie van together, the duck tape or the […]

The Joshua God, the Jesus God, and Why Millennials are Leaving the Church

posted by smcswain

The Joshua God… The Jesus God… And, Why Millennials are Leaving the Church… “Christians must start to believe in the God that Jesus presented,” says Fr. Richard Rohr. I would add, “instead of believing in the God that Joshua believed […]

The Problem with Most Prayers…Including Yours and Mine

posted by smcswain

THE PROBLEM WITH MOST PRAYERS The problem with most of our praying – my prayers, too, mind you – is this: we pray because we are looking for a way out. But why? Precisely because nobody likes pain. Nobody looks […]

The Christ Experience…What Must Die this Easter and Stay Dead

posted by smcswain

“Separate the Christ experience from the Christ-explanations,” suggests Bishop John Shelby Spong. In other words, you and I may experience Christ but we could never explain Christ. When you try to explain what God has done in and through the […]

The 21st Century Church: “Absolutes” the Church Must Embrace Or Die: Part One

posted by smcswain

The popular group Hozier has a hit song “Take Me to Church.” Lest you think, however, the title reflects the current youth culture’s longing to return to the Church they have abandoned, think again. One line in the lyrics goes […]

All that Really Matters in Any Religion

posted by smcswain

“In essentials unity…in non-essentials liberty…in all things charity.” I have heard this phrase for the greater part of my religious life. In fact, I am pretty sure I have used the phrase myself. It is a much more helpful position […]

Change: The Two Vital Steps to Lasting Change

posted by smcswain

Change. Sooner or later, everyone wants to change something.  We begin each new year resolving to make changes… In our relationships; In our priorities; In our health; In our personal fitness; In our eating habits; In our ambitions; In our […]

“Healing the Divide” – An Interview with Author, Christian Mystic and Church Reformer, Amos Smith

posted by smcswain

“Healing the Divide.” That’s the title of Amos Smith’s book. Fr. Richard Rohr calls it “a foundational work written in a style that will be respected by scholars–yet easily accessible to ordinary Christians and would-be seekers.” Leonard Sweet, author of […]

LIVING WITH FEARS: How I’m Learning to Manage Mine

posted by smcswain

I think I have always lived slightly afraid of something. • I am not afraid of being attacked like a soldier must feel on a battlefield. • I am not afraid of falling off a cliff, although I would be […]

Contentment…In Any and All Circumstances

posted by smcswain

The spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, once wrote, “Accept this moment as if you had chosen it.” That’s not so different, is it, from what the spiritual teacher, Saint Paul, described, when he wrote, “…I have learned how to be content […]

The Beliefs I Was Told I Had to Believe to Be a “Good Christian”

posted by smcswain

If you were raised in a Christian faith tradition similar to mine, you will readily recognize the following beliefs, the following worldview. If you were not, however, this will give you an idea of what I was taught to believe […]

Divine Consciousness: What “Being Saved” is Really All About

posted by smcswain

Divine Consciousness: What Being Saved is Really All About What does “being saved” really mean? I am sometimes asked, “You frequently use the words ‘conscious’ or ‘Divine consciousness’ or ‘higher states of consciousness’ and, sometimes, ‘awake’ or ‘awakening’. What do […]

Do You Have an Inner Guide?

posted by smcswain

Inner Guide? Do you have an inner guide? Yes, of course. In a few days, I will be giving the keynote talk to the Chairpersons of Departments of Communication from colleges and universities across the country. They are having their […]

The Real Miracle of Christmas

posted by smcswain

The miracle of Christmas…the incarnation…is not that the Eternal Christ fully or exclusively indwelled Jesus but that the Eternal Christ fully and completely indwells you and me. The miracle of grace…salvation…is not that there is anything you must do in […]

Is Everything that Happens God’s Will?

posted by smcswain

I often hear people say…heck, the truth is, I have said these things before myself… “Everything happens for a reason” “There are no mistakes” “God never puts more on you than you can handle…” It comes in many sizes and […]

Jesus: The Original “New Age” Thinker

posted by smcswain

You are a “New Age” Christian. What does this mean? And, why must people constantly label others? My critics sometimes say to me, “You’ve just become too ‘New Age’ for me.” Or, “You’re just another ‘New Ager.” What is meant […]

Meeting Almighty, Mopping Floors

posted by smcswain

So much of what I do…I do…even while I am thinking of something else. Frequently, for example, I’ll rush through a warm shower at dawn because I am thinking about all those things I must do, as well as the […]

Holy Spirit and Mindfulness…Here West Meets East

posted by smcswain

Lately, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk and Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, has been on my mind. As you may know, he is still in a coma. We hope and pray for his recovery. Whenever I think of him, however, I am […]

The Problem with Faith

posted by smcswain

The Problem with Faith I wish it were easier. It is not, however. In many ways, my spiritual walk was easier when it was not so complicated by faith. When I could reduce it to a catalogue of beliefs, which […]

The Voice Within

posted by smcswain

Several years ago, Christina Aguilera sang a popular song “The Voice Within.” The lyrics go like this: When there’s no one else, look inside yourself Like your oldest friend, just trust the voice within Then you’ll find the strength that […]

6 Habits of Highly Successful People: Up Close with Humorist Jeanne Robertson

posted by smcswain

What are the habits of highly successful people? I asked myself that question as Pam and I left the Brown Theatre in downtown Louisville Friday night. We went there to see the veteran humorist Jeanne Robertson. And, we were not […]

The Most Important Questions You’ll Ever Ask Yourself

posted by smcswain

“What are the most important questions you’ll ever ask of yourself?” Following a keynote I gave recently at an annual gathering of seasoned aviators meeting at a casino (a first for me), one of the pilots approached me with that […]

What to Do When a Pet Dies

posted by smcswain

When a beloved pet dies, what do you do? Last Wednesday, we said “Good-bye” to our beloved Oscar, a mini-Dachshund, who brought to Pam and me more joy, laughter, and companionship than I can describe here. I have never cried […]

Jesus and the Buddha

posted by smcswain

Jesus said, “Deny thyself” (Luke 9:23). The Buddha spoke of “Non-self” or “No self.” Both Christians and Buddhists frequently misunderstand what these teachers meant. What Christians Have Been Taught Christians, for example, mistakenly think Jesus was suggesting his followers had […]

The Three Biggest Questions of Your Life

posted by smcswain

What are the “3″ biggest questions of your life? 1. Who am I? 2. What Is My Life Purpose? 3. What is My Life Plan? I’ve been thinking about these three questions a great deal lately. I’m giving the keynote […]

Walk with God…Mindfulness in Action

posted by smcswain

To walk with God is the goal of human life. What this means to Christians is not so different than what “mindfulness” means to practitioners of eastern traditions. Many of you know I wrote a book about walking with God. […]

Faith…It’s Hard and Difficult and Not for the Faint-of-Heart

posted by smcswain

Faith is hard work. Hard won, too. “Just believe!” say some. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “Become as a little child?” (Matt. 18:3). If, by faith, you are talking about – and, many Christians are – subscribing to a neatly […]

Because I’m Happy…Clap Along If You Feel Like…

posted by smcswain

“Because I’m happy…clap along…” Pharrel Williams sings it. “Because I’m happy…clap along…” Miss America sings it. “Because I’m happy…clap along…” We all sing it. Frankly, I’ve heard the popular song so much on the radio and television, I’m ready for […]

Today’s Religious Rant…from a Professional Ranter

posted by smcswain

TODAY’s RELIGIOUS RANT Some very conservative Christian friends of mine (and they seem to be growing fewer and fewer in number these days, which saddens me) are so very offended by me and, very often, justifiably so. I can be […]

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion – What I’ve Learned about Spirituality

posted by smcswain

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion. That’s the title to Sam Harris’ new book. Now, this should be interesting. For those curious, as I am, about spirituality but who have abandoned organized religion (and, according to the 2012 Pew […]

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions! What Should I Do?

posted by smcswain

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions! “What should I do?” I get this question often. I’ve asked this question of myself equally as often. “What should I do?” I sometimes know the answer immediately. Usually, however, I never get beyond the question. Frustration […]

Prayer…Does God Answer Prayer? Ebola Survivor Thinks So…

posted by smcswain

Prayer…Does God answer prayer? Apparently so, according to the Ebola Doctor, Dr. Kent Brantly, who was himself an Ebola survivor. You can view his full remarks in a recent press conference he held soon after leaving the hospital. I am […]

Meditation: The Key to Living a Sacred Life

posted by smcswain

Meditation is the key to living a sacred life. It is the key that unlocks the chamber to an inner life of tranquility. Meditation is also the indispensable discipline you must practice in order to know a sacred, spiritual life. […]

Communicate: 5 Ways to Enhance Communication

posted by smcswain

COMMUNICATE What could be more important than learning how to communicate? Here are five ways to enhance communication in your own life… Dr. Steve McSwain…is an author, speaker, leadership coach, counsel to non-profits, faith-based organizations and congregations, an adjunct Professor […]

Suicide…an Unpardonable Sin?

posted by smcswain

Suicide Saint Augustine believed this in the fifth century and, as a consequence, this became the Church’s position regarding suicide for centuries. But Saint Augustine was wrong about this, just as he has been wrong about many other things, including […]

Cheek Turning: Completely Impractical Words Jesus Spoke

posted by smcswain

Cheek Turning: “If someone strikes you,” counseled Jesus, “turn the other cheek!” Completely impractical words, wouldn’t you agree? Who does this? You get sucker punched on one side of the face and you’re supposed to submissively turn the other cheek, […]

Is Jesus the Only Way to God?

posted by smcswain

Another Cardiac Unit Insight… Is Jesus the only way to God? I am often asked, “What did Jesus really mean when, in John 14:6, he is purported to have said, “I am the way…no one comes to the Father but […]

The 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War: Remember, We Must…

posted by smcswain

This may surprise you, but what we commonly call the Vietnam War, or the Second Indo-China War, was technically the “Vietnam Conflict.” The US Congress never officially declared war against Vietnam. They viewed our participation in the conflict as a […]

10 Steps to Inner Peace and Success…

posted by smcswain

Be Love to Others We are born for love. Not just to be in love and to be loved, but to BE love. You see, love isn’t just something you do. It is a constant state of BEING. It is […]

God and the Power Pivot

posted by smcswain

God and the Power Pivot. Maybe you’ve seen this new gadget marketed by Quirky as the Power Pivot. It has become wildly popular. This one is now in our home and it is providing power to multiple products all from […]

5 Easy Rules to Deal with Difficult People

posted by smcswain

Difficult People At one time or another, we have all had dealings with difficult people. Do you remember the last time you did? Do you recall the last time someone intentionally spoke words to malign your character, question your motives, […]

Would You Want to Marry into a Family of Atheists? Hell No!

posted by smcswain

I’ve been in a writing mode for the last few days. I’m preparing for a keynote in a few weeks at a banquet for several hundred aviators at Aviation Association’s annual gathering, this year at Belterra Casino and Resort. And, […]

Why the Widespread Departure from the Church?

posted by smcswain

I am frequently asked, “Why the widespread departure from organized religion?” I have thought long and hard about this and, for those of you who follow my blogs with the Huffington Post and the articles I write for the Washington […]

What’s Wrong with Our Prayers? Here’s What’s Wrong…

posted by smcswain

What’s wrong with our prayers? Here’s what’s wrong…what we often call prayer isn’t prayer at all. Let me explain it this way… I do not pray to be healthy; I pray for wisdom to make healthy choices. I do not […]

Break Free…Living Fully into Your Doubts and Questions

posted by smcswain

Break Free. Sounds like the lyrics to a song Queen sang in the late ’80’s. Break Free. Sounds like something one of characters might have said in the movie, The Shawshank Redemption. It’s neither. When I chose these words “break […]

What Is the Purpose of My Life?

posted by smcswain

What is the purpose of my life? Haven’t you asked that question at least a million times? I talk and write much about this, precisely because I think about it almost all the time. How would you complete this sentence? […]

Worth of a Dime…The Worth of a Soul

posted by smcswain

Do we all have value? Any worth? Ever felt as if you had none? That you were worthless? “Sometimes,” answered the lady I counseled on a street corner one day, “I feel nothing else.” So this morning, I left the […]

Is God Dead?

posted by smcswain

Is God dead? I’m sitting on a plane waiting to fly to Atlanta the on to Tampa to visit clients. And, I’m thinking. “Oh no,” you say.”Not that! Not again!” Agreed. At the risk of getting too “heavy” into thinking […]

Things I’ve Learned about Leadership from the Masters of the Universe!

posted by smcswain

I’m writing this while sitting on a plane from Minneapolis to Denver.  I’m finalizing in my head the details of a talk I’m giving in Boulder later today and thinking about a recent invite I received to bring the keynote […]

Transplant Now! Today’s Decisions Determine Tomorrow’s Destiny

posted by smcswain

The flowers we ordered from one of the local Boy Scout Troops arrived last Saturday. One of the scouts left them on our front porch. We had been out for most of the day but, when we returned home early […]

Crucifixion: A New Way to Think about Jesus’ Death

posted by smcswain

Crucifixion Of Jesus Why did Jesus die? The most honest answer? Nobody really knows. Not even the Apostle Paul and he was likely the first to write about these matters  (Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 12). Death by crucifixion is […]

Stop the Train, I Want to Get Off!

posted by smcswain

Live fully into the life you have…into the person you are. All this straining, striving, searching, securing… And, for what? To BE more? How could you ever add anything to the perfect creation you are? What? You don’t think God […]

Fundamentalist Christians Do Not Take the Bible Literally Either

posted by smcswain

Those who insist the Bible is “literally true” have all but destroyed the very Bible they want everyone to take seriously. “How so?” In two ways.  First, by insisting the Bible is literally true they have established a level of […]

Why Are Some Christians So Angry and Hateful Toward Gays?

posted by smcswain

Below is my response to Sandy Rios, the talk show host of the American Family Association, for her recently publicized remarks that “God will even the score” against Obama and gays soon enough. I wrote the following response in an […]

Is the Bible Literally True? No, Of Course Not!

posted by smcswain

Most people could care less whether it is or it isn’t. If you’re reading this, however, you probably care at least enough to read this. To me, the Bible is important. It is for me the sacred story of the […]

Religious Leaders like Mark Driscoll…Shouldn’t You Do What’s Right, Too?

posted by smcswain

Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill Church Perhaps not “uncommon or illegal” Pastor Mark Driscoll and elders of Mars Hill Church, but certainly unethical and certainly not what an evangelical Christian leader or his elders should be doing, especially when […]

Change Yourself and You Change the World…

posted by smcswain

I just witnessed the most remarkable display of ingenuity, creativity, and organization I’ve seen in a long time. I just got off the shuttle bus at the LAX airport in LA, after a short ride from the Hilton Hotel. The […]

Why Do I Hide in the Dark? 3 Ways to Living a More Authentic Life…

posted by smcswain

I was reading again this morning the story of Nicodemus. You remember it, don’t you?  The fellow who came to Jesus at night, full of affection for Jesus, but full of questions and confusion, too. Why at night? Why did […]

The Song of Birds at Spring…

posted by smcswain

The birds are singing this morning. Do you hear them? Or, are you dashing about preparing to plunge into the business of living on Monday morning?I will be, too, but the song I heard this morning stopped me right smack […]

Real Faith…Phony Faith – So, Which is Yours?

posted by smcswain

“What’s the point of human existence?” “Why did people actually show up on earth?” “What is the point of human creation?” “What is the point of YOUR life?” These are big questions and not easily answered. Anyone who answers them […]

The “4” Myths about Prayer: Pathway to More Meaningful Praying

posted by smcswain

Recently, I pulled up to my local bank drive-though, opened the “pneumatic tube carrier,” as it is known, placed inside the container my bank transaction, and pressed the “Send” button. The little elevator doors closed and I watched as the […]

Transformation

posted by smcswain

The 4 Ways Life’s Little Interruptions Help You

posted by smcswain

The delays…interruptions…to your important life, as well as mine, are quite frustrating, are they not? Who hasn’t experienced a flight delay? A mechanical problem? A cancelled flight? Or, a traffic jam? Or, having to wait in the checkout lane? They’re […]

What’s Your Mantra for Living?

posted by smcswain

“Mantra” is a sanskrit word made up of two other words: “man” meaning “mind” and “tra” meaning “instrument.” Hence, a mantra is an “instrument of the mind.” Not mental gymnastics or a kind of pattern of positive thinking. More like […]

Creationism vs Evolutionism…When Will this Debate Ever End?

posted by smcswain

We could not be luckier here in Kentucky. We are that state that promotes religious quackery. Oh, in case you don’t know or are making thinking of traveling south to warmer climates, on your way through Kentucky stop and see […]

The Power of “I AM”

posted by smcswain

In The Book of Awakening, the poet Mark Nepo writes: “In seeking what is essential, we become essential.” This is true. Seek a sacred life, you become spiritual. Seek to live by faith, you become faithful. Seek compassion, you become […]

The One Resolution We Need for the New Year

posted by smcswain

The Only 2014 Resolution You’ll Need…the One that Changes Everything!

posted by smcswain

This is the season for New Year’s Resolutions. Actually, however, there is only one resolution you could ever possibly need. Not surprisingly, it is also the one resolution that, when practiced resolutely, changes everything, about your life and our world. […]

Want to Be Free…Truly Free? Here’s How!

posted by smcswain

The Buddha used the word “anata” to refer to “no self.” What did he mean? The same thing Jesus meant when he said, “Deny thyself” (Matt. 16:24). Then, what did these two spiritual teachers mean? Detachment is the word, my […]

Why Is Your Religion Powerless to Change You? To Change the World?

posted by smcswain

Why is your religion and/or religious belief powerless to change you? Powerless to change the world? This might explain it… In Voice of Reason, a book shared with me by my Facebook friend, Bill Butler, author Bryant McGill writes: “Take […]

Stop Striving to Be Important…

posted by smcswain

“Stop striving to be important.” Good advice from Mark Nepo.  Hard as heck, however, to stop doing. Striving…seeking…competing…clamoring for the spotlight. It’s easier to see this stuff in others than to see it in yourself.  Ambition gone amok. Competitiveness gone […]

What Does It Mean to Believe?

posted by smcswain

To believe, what does that mean? To have faith, can you explain? Faith, the capacity to believe, is an innate gift of Divine grace imparted to you at birth. In other words, you are a believer at birth. How do […]

What Does It Mean to Believe?

posted by smcswain

To believe, what does that mean? To have faith, can you explain? Faith, the capacity to believe, is an innate gift of Divine grace imparted to you at birth. In other words, you are a believer at birth. How do […]

Give Thanks in All Things! All Things? You’re Kidding, Right?

posted by smcswain

Saint Paul said, “In everything, give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:17). Yea right? Who does that? Give thanks for everything?  Really?  You’ve got to be kidding, Paul. Not one of your more inspiring moments, if you ask me. For pleasures? Well, […]

Stepping into the Eternal…into Authentic Faith

posted by smcswain

All structures…foundations…all pillars of faith….in other words, all beliefs are uncertain, temporary, and they are not…I repeat…they are not the source of authentic faith… …if authentic faith is what you seek. Faith is authentic…genuine…most real…when it has nothing upon which to stand. […]

Hospital or Hotel? What IS the Church, Anymore?

posted by smcswain

“If we devote ourselves to the effort to be real, the Universe in all its forms will find us, the way that wind finds leaves and waves find shore” – Mark Nepo. “The effort to be real…” That is my […]

How May I Know When I’m Truly Living By Faith?

posted by smcswain

You are thinking that what has happened to you is a “failure.” Right? Think again. Could it be, as someone has put it, that “what you perceive as a failure is simply life unfolding in a new direction?” Can you […]

How Do You Grow in Christ?

posted by smcswain

“Be no longer children,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “but grow up in Christ” (Eph. 4:15). All my spiritual life…for as long as I can remember…religious people have sincerely, but mistakenly, exhorted me to “grow up in Christ.” It sounded reasonable. […]

You Are What You Seek

posted by smcswain

Or, so said Saint Francis. Rumi, the Sufi poet put it slightly differently, “What you seek is seeking you.” And, Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom.” So, what is the Kingdom? It is not the Church. Not heaven either. Are you […]

Life’s Most Inglorious Bastard

posted by smcswain

Inglorious Basterds! Not sure why they spell it that way, but they do. Remember the war film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino? I’m pretty sure “Inglorious Basterds” is an apt name for my ego…maybe yours, too. I have struggled […]

The Big Yellow Bus to Somewhere?

posted by smcswain

Lao-Tzu said, “Be #content with what you have; #rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” You are probably not so different from me. But I live much of […]

What’s Wrong with Much of Organized Christianity Today?

posted by smcswain

J. S. Spong says this: 1. God is still envisioned as a “being” supernatural in power, dwelling somewhere external to this world, usually depicted as “above the sky.” 2. Prayer is largely an effort to manipulate God to conform to […]

The 3 Most Effective Ways of Facing Adversity

posted by smcswain

Do you ever feel like you just do not know what to do? You’ve been following a path that has felt right to you for a long time and doors of opportunity have opened, confirming the rightness of your choices. […]

What More Must God Do to Get Your Attention?

posted by smcswain

I love these words of Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakening: “God starts in everything unseeable, but comes to us plainly in the things of this world.” And then, he offers this prayer: “Close your eyes and pray for […]

Want to Be Free to Be You? Here’s how…

posted by smcswain

Over the years, I have learned to keep some of myself hidden from others. Do you ever do this? I’ve been like a “Lazy Susan,” as Mark Nepo describes it, “offering only what others wanted or needed or felt most […]

What about Heaven or Hell?

posted by smcswain

I was re-reading this morning Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. Haven’t read it? I suggest you do. On Heaven? Here are some of his words… “When you do not know who you are, you […]

Your Natural Habitat…the Chamber of Stillness

posted by smcswain

I was reminded today that the ocean is a natural habitat for a fish. Just as air is to a bird and the earth is to a tree. “But what about you and me?” I wondered. “Is there a natural […]

You Are By Nature Spiritual…

posted by smcswain

My Mind! My Worries! My Madness! Who Will Deliver Me?

posted by smcswain

Worry is the conversation in your head that fear has with itself. Really? Maybe that’s why… I tell myself not to worry, but I worry still. I tell myself I do not worry; but then, that I should worry more. […]

The Plan or the Path…

posted by smcswain

For much of my life, I have lived with a plan… I planned when I would wake up… I planned what I would do each and every day… I planned how I planned to implement my plan… I planned, too, […]

Sabbath

posted by smcswain

A Hebrew word which, in its root form, means “to stop,” “to cease.” A strong word and every time I say it, I get this mental image of a huge, red sign with the word STOP on it. Not a […]

Why Am I Here? The Purpose of Your Life…

posted by smcswain

“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace till the last syllable of recorded time. And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle! Life is but a shadow, a poor […]

How Do I Love Myself?

posted by smcswain

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31). That’s just another way of saying, “You cannot give away what you do not possess.” Or, “You cannot give to another what you have not given to yourself already.” […]

The Sacred Journey…Four Stages of Development

posted by smcswain

Once you embark on the spiritual path and begin to practice it regularly, there will come a time – it may be a few months or perhaps even a few years – but there will come a time when you […]

Is There Really a Heaven or Hell?…

posted by smcswain

I suppose.  If you need them. But here’s another consideration. In Falling Upward, Father Richard Rohr writes… “When you do not know who you are, you push all enlightenment off into a possible future reward and punishment system, within which […]

Christian Mingle Dot Com

posted by smcswain

Christian Mingle Dot Com “Find God’s Match for You.” What IS this? A bit bothersome to me, frankly. No, I think I would have to say, a “lot” bothersome. Like God actually has someone picked out just for you? No […]

Am I God? Are You?

posted by smcswain

St John of the Cross… “I seek God, but not because I think it is what I’m supposed to do; I do it instead because I need to… because of a longing that is not of my own creation.” I […]

What God, Church-Going, and Casinos Share in Common…

posted by smcswain

“What must I do to experience God?” That’s a little like asking, “How can I win the lottery?” “If I drop more tokens into the Divine Slot Machine, won’t that increase my odds?” Valid questions. But the methods? Not so […]

Faith So Simple…As a Mustard Seed…So Why Does Religion Complicate Faith?

posted by smcswain

Faith is so simple. So very simple. It is religion that complicates it. Why? Control, perhaps. Distinction from other religions, maybe. I’m not quite sure. What I do know is that faith is not about either control or distinction. Instead, […]

The Single Greatest Spiritual Truth

posted by smcswain

What Is the Single Greatest Spiritual Truth You Have Ever Learned? I got asked that question today and, after thinking for a moment, I suppose I would have to answer like this: “As soon as you are disposed to being […]

Near Death Experiences…Heaven? Hell?

posted by smcswain

NDE – Near Death Experiences. Heaven. Hell. Questions about whether there is actually life beyond the grave invite such debate.  Immense emotion, too. Express doubt about whether there is a heaven and you’d better be prepared for the barrage of […]

THERE and HERE…

posted by smcswain

Why am I so seldom satisfied with where I am? Why does over there always appear more enchanting than right here? Why is it that I look forward to vacation…make plans…detailed plans…imagine the fun, the relaxation I’m going to have…the […]

The Authentic Search for God

posted by smcswain

In an authentic search for God, the cosmos of inclusiveness just keeps widening and expanding, not unlike the ever-expanding universe in which we live. That’s a bit of a paraphrase of something Fr. Richard Rohr says in his book Immortal […]

Eternity in an Hour…On the Meaning of ‘Mindfulness’

posted by smcswain

“To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wildflower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.” — Auguries of Innocence, William Blake You are the nearest to eternity […]

A Fish with Arms? What the…?

posted by smcswain

“The instant fish accept that they will never have arms, they grow fins.” That’s the wisdom with which Mark Nepo begins his thought for today in The Book of Awakening. And, it is a thought that captures my imagination. It is […]

What Is Salvation? Enlightenment? Awakening? Learning to Let Go…

posted by smcswain

Fr. Thomas Keating, the Trappist monk, said “Discernment is a process of letting go of what we are not. “Discernment” is yet another word, similar in meaning to enlightenment, awakening, salvation. All of these words point to the process of […]

Do You Have But One Blessing, Father?…A Father’s Blessing

posted by smcswain

“Do you have but one blessing, Father? Oh, please, Daddy bless me too.” And Esau broke down and wept (Gen. 17:38) One of the most heart-wrenching scenes in all the Old Testament. Esau, first-born son to Isaac, was looking for […]

Want to Grow in Your Faith?

posted by smcswain

A Tribute to My Father…

posted by smcswain

Looking for God Outside Yourself is Like…

posted by smcswain

“If God is everywhere,” writes Fr. Richard Rohr, “then God is not anywhere exclusively.” Hold this thought in your mind this day…no, everyday…and see what happens. I suspect, among other things, 1. You will begin to honor spiritual truth wherever […]

6 Questions Christians Should Just Start Asking…

posted by smcswain

Since the article I wrote a few weeks ago was released, “6 Things Christians Should Just Stop Saying,” I have received a myriad of emails and comments. Most have appreciated my awkward attempts to share my feelings and concerns about the state […]

Sinner’s in the Hands of an Angry God!

posted by smcswain

“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God!” Yes, that WAS the title of a sermon given by Jonathan Edwards in the 18th century. The title has changed over the years; the message has remained the same. You are a […]

Who Are You?…

posted by smcswain

I think I will have to respond like this: “When I left America for Europe on my first trip around the world, I left as a Baptist Christian. When, in Europe, however, I realized I was really more than just […]

What is TRUE Spirituality?

posted by smcswain

For much of my Christian life, I confessed Jesus and so pursued some kind of spiritual life. It was not because I was all that interested in overcoming the self-centeredness that WAS my life…my up and down emotional states…my negative […]

The Return of the Twinkie…

posted by smcswain

I was asked this morning by one of my Facebook friends from Australia, “Steve, what’s a Twinkie?” At first, I thought he was joking. Who does not know, and miss, the Hostess Twinkie? He wasn’t joking. He really wanted to know, […]

The Dualistic Mind – Isn’t THIS What Really Needs Saving Today?

posted by smcswain

Jesus Christ is the model for integrating divinity and humanity. This IS the challenge we all face. Because, contrary to how many Christians have been raised to believe, we are both human and divine. All of us. That means, yes, […]

And, What Is It You Do? Today’s Elevator Speech

posted by smcswain

I had lunch today with Wayne, an old friend who recently reached out to me to rekindle our friendship. Today was the second of what I suspect will be many future luncheons and/or conversations around coffee with Wayne. Wayne is […]

The Yellow Squash Does Sweat…

posted by smcswain

“The yellow squash will sweat.” Or, so said the recipe. I bought some fresh, yellow squash day before yesterday. Grabbed an internet recipe off the web with instructions for making squash and sweet onion. The recipe instructed me to slice […]

Happiness…

posted by smcswain

Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “Every man wants to be happy but in order to be so he needs first to understand what happiness is.” Understand “what” happiness is? Don’t we all know “what” it is?  Maybe not. Ask people what happiness […]

How to Control Your Mind and Thoughts?

posted by smcswain

Maybe you don’t have any trouble with your thoughts, but I do. Thoughts pop into my mind without my permission faster than a mosquito bites my skin on a sweltering summer afternoon. And, equally without my permission. Descartes, father of […]

I Was Born with a “W H Y” Chromosome…

posted by smcswain

I was born with a “W H Y” chromosome which is why I’ve been asking questions all my life. Unfortunately, many religious people are threatened whenever you question faith. But, my own opinion is, until you question your faith, you […]

The Madness that Must End Among Christians…

posted by smcswain

The Dalai Lama is coming to Louisville this Sunday. I was thinking the other day, “It’s about time. After all, I visited his part of the world for the first time when I was but fourteen.” It’s true. It was […]

Seeing the Most Obvious…or, the Measure of Enlightenment

posted by smcswain

Two little fish are swimming along in the ocean one morning when they meet with an older fish who casually asks them, “Hello fella’s, how’s the water today?” They responded with equal casualness, “Fine, sir” and then, they continued to […]

What Is the Sign of Spiritual Maturity?

posted by smcswain

How do I know when I am advancing on the spiritual path? What is a “sign” of spiritual maturity? I would answer that question as many spiritual teachers like Jesus did when questioned…with a question of my own. Must everyone […]

Why Coach Young Executives…and, People Like You?

posted by smcswain

I had a client coaching session late yesterday afternoon. The first of many sessions to come with a young, executive who is driven, ambitious…a rising star in his corporate environment. I asked, “Why did you come to me as your […]

Mystery of Mysteries…You Say, “Jesus Is the Only Way!”

posted by smcswain

To those who know me, it is no surprise that I was born with a WHY chromosome. Because I was so fortunate as to travel the world during my teen years…those highly impressionable years…I’ve seen things, heard things, experienced things […]

On the Pathway…But, to Where?

posted by smcswain

On the Pathway…But, To Where? It’s today’s buzzword, isn’t it? Pathway…Journey…People speak quite frequently these days about being on the path…or, on the journey. But, to where? For some Christians, it is a journey to heaven. Really? Is that the […]

Is There an Unforgivable Sin?

posted by smcswain

The question: Is there a sin God will not forgive? What did Jesus mean by these words? In Mark 3:28-29, Jesus says, “I promise you that any of the sinful things you say or do can be forgiven, no matter […]

How To Question Everything and Be the Stronger in Faith for It!

posted by smcswain

“Doubt is no more disbelief than questions are compromise” (from, The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God). Until you question your faith, you have no faith. It is true, however, you might have beliefs. But there is a chasm […]

The Point of Human Existence? What Is It?…

posted by smcswain

The Secret to Finding God Is…

posted by smcswain

Do You Seek God?  And yet, no matter how hard you try, you do not feel as if you can quite make it with God? I understand.  Which is why I write so much and so often about this. I […]

The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God – Video Blog # 4

posted by smcswain

The Enoch Factor: Video Blog # 4 What’s the difference between “beliefs” and “faith”? And, what kind of internal environment is needed for my faith to grow? 1. Question Everything (Video Blog # 3) 2. Today, I would suggest…

Going Within…Changing Your World!

posted by smcswain

Nepo says that when he was young he talked fast and loud. Sometimes, I still do. What he did not realize until much later in life is that “I kept talking faster and louder to the world around me because […]

The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God – Video Blog # 3

posted by smcswain

Do you ever long to know God? I have come to believe that knowing God is both an art and an art that is sacred. That is to say, knowing God is not difficult. But most of us make it […]

“I’m in a Hurry (and Don’t Know Why)…”

posted by smcswain

I’m in a hurry and don’t know why… I was on a flight yesterday morning from Louisville to Sarasota to visit with clients. Sitting on the plane just before takeoff, I looked out the window at the massive wing reaching […]

Who I Am Naturally!…

posted by smcswain

Here’s a thought for consideration on this bright new April morning in spring. In Harvey Cox’s book The Future of Faith, he references a statement to this effect: “If we love God, even if we think God might not exist, […]

The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God – Video Blog # 2

posted by smcswain

Can I know God? Check this out and see for yourself…

The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God – Video Blog # 1

posted by smcswain

These are a series of video blogs I am producing to introduce you to what I call “the sacred art of knowing God.” I hope you find them useful on your spiritual path.

The Real Meaning of Easter! Consider this…

posted by smcswain

When you pretend to believe things you really no longer believe and you do so… …Just to please those whose friendships you’re afraid you might lose; or, because… …You fear their judgments of your admission or, worse… …The thought of […]

Destinations! Or, Today?

posted by smcswain

It was Mark Nepo who observed, “Birds learn how to fly, never knowing where flight will take them.” I have spent the greater part of my life worrying about my destination…where the flight of my life was taking me…instead of […]

What Is the Breath of Life?

posted by smcswain

In the Song of Creation, otherwise known as the Book of Genesis, the writer says of the first two mythical representatives of the human race, “And God breathed into their nostrils the breath of life and humans became living souls” (Gen. […]

Giving Your Attention Too Quickly to the Next Thing…

posted by smcswain

“Much of our confusion in life comes from giving our attention too quickly to the next thing…” says Mark Nepo this morning. Ah, now that touches a nerve in me. It does some of you, too. Which is precisely why, […]

So, You Want to Become a Great Leader?…Live a Successful Life?…or, Know a Meaningful Spiritual Life? Here’s How:

posted by smcswain

I coach professionals, business executives, and religious leaders all across America. There’s a little cliche, the origin of which I do not know, that goes like this: “You cannot get there from here; You can only get here from there.” […]

Do You Hear the Birds Sing?…

posted by smcswain

Do you hear the birds singing in the quiet hours of dawn? For years, I have awakened between five and six every morning. It is my favorite time of the day. The world is filled with stillness. My mind is […]

Why Do I Meditate…Pray…and Write about the Spiritual Path?

posted by smcswain

I am frequently asked, “Why do you meditate…pray…or, for that matter, write so much about spiritual things?” It’s who I am. How could I be otherwise? I’ve tried for years to be what others have wanted and, frankly, I’ve grown […]

What Is Faith?…

posted by smcswain

I’m looking out the window on a flight from Louisville to Atlanta where I’m helping a congregation redefine its understanding of mission and then recast a vision for their future. I’ve been reflecting on the meaning of faith. What is […]

Vanity…Vanity…(another word for “ego”) – Everyone’s Problem but MINE…

posted by smcswain

Vanity…Vanity…(another word for “ego”) – Everyone’s problem but MINE! Have you ever noticed how vain we are? You, of course. Not me. What about the author who advertises he or she is a “Bestselling Author.” If you were really a “bestselling” […]

Living in the Rhythm of NOW…

posted by smcswain

I teach on Mondays at the University of Kentucky. The students today I find to be engaging, open-minded, and visionary. They keep me young, too. They call me, “Professor.” What they do not know is that, when I’m with them, […]

Cabin in the Woods…

posted by smcswain

I was reminded today of the story Carl Jung used to tell of the dream he once had of a path he was clearing in the woods. With some kind of tool in hand, he was arduously working to clear […]

What IS Enlightenment? Salvation? Awakening? Here’s the Short Answer…

posted by smcswain

I find Mark Nepo thoughts so inspiring. His devotional today inspired the following insight. Enlightenment (or, salvation, or awakening, or whatever you’d like to call it) is not some lofty place of achievement reserved only to those who struggle, strive […]

Your Best Life Now!

posted by smcswain

OK, so this is all a little weird to me. My first blog as a blogger with BeliefNet. And, it feels like I’m starting all over. Which of course I am. Which makes it all the weirder. Which of course […]

Previous Posts

Interfaith Spirituality: Interview with Author Tom Ziemann
His name is Tom Ziemann (pronounced “Zee – Man”). I’m not exactly sure when we met. I do know, however, how we met. It was on Facebook. When? Maybe a couple of years ago, but that’s about all I can say. Interfaith Spirituality When ...

posted 8:24:02pm May. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Hell No, I Do Not Believe in Hell
I think I have finally decided that to believe in hell, as I once did, is really the admission that Love does not exist in you. How ...

posted 7:55:28am May. 15, 2015 | read full post »

Can I Trust Faith Healers I See on Television?
No! That's the short answer. Almost without exception, faith healers are charlatans or just plain misguided spiritual imposters. Faith Healers are Imposters [caption id="attachment_1529" align="alignright" width="200"] Can I Trust Faith ...

posted 11:34:06am May. 14, 2015 | read full post »

The Spiritually-Mature Person
Luke 10:38-42 New English Translation (NET Bible) Jesus, Martha, Mary and the Spiritually-Mature Person 38 Now as they went on their way, ...

posted 8:36:40am May. 12, 2015 | read full post »

Detours to Avoid on the Spiritual Journey: "The Easy Path" - Post Two
Jesus was "driven" by the Spirit into the wilderness, as the Gospel writer Matthew describes in detail (Matt. 4:1ff). That wasn't by limousine either. But, as I pointed out in the first of this four-part post, life will take you, even if it ...

posted 9:32:34am May. 06, 2015 | read full post »

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