Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Saturday, February 17, 2018

3 Reasons This World Needs a Spiritual Practice

Another mass shooting. This time in Florida. 17 people dead. Horrific. People ask why does this keep happening? Apparently the answer is not obvious to everyone but it is to me.

No, the answer isn't gun control. The answer isn't mental health treatments. These may help band-aid the problem but these solutions ignore the root cause.

People have lost their sense of  the sacredness of human life. And why is that? Because they have turned their backs on God - the most sacred One of all. He is not allowed in schools anymore. They've taken "In God we Trust" off our money, out of the pledge of allegiance and out of the statues in town centers.  If we don't hold God sacred, whose precepts teach us the basics of how to be a decent human being and the difference between right and wrong, what do you expect? Chaos! Which is exactly what we are headed towards.

The root cause of all evil - and yes, this is evil - is turning away from the things of God. To deny the existence of evil is to live in a polyanna state of oblivion. All is not well with the world and we were not born sinless, as some purport. Think about your most recent unkind comment, lie, rudeness, impatience. Think about when you thought badly about someone, yourself even. Think about when you look at things with lust or jealousy. None of these is from God. The bent of human beings is towards things that gratify the flesh and temporarily make us feel better about ourselves, make us feel loved, attractive, worthy. When was the last time you compared yourself to another? The truth is only God can make us feel loved, attractive and worthy. Why? Because he died for us, that's why. If that doesn't spell love, I don't know what does.

Another sign we need a spiritual path is when we indulge to excess: overeat, drink too much, have too much sex, exercise or work too much. All of these are signs of unhealthy attitudes which lead to unhealthy behaviors. Just look at the opiod crisis. People are hurting emotionally and mentally and they seek to console themselves with a dangerous and deadly habit.

I was talking with an acquaintance recently and he was telling me how many times he went dancing over the weekend. He had been every night. Then he asked me how many times I had been and I said "None, dancing isn't everything."
"It's not?" he replied. I don't think he was joking.

It is only in living by and with the Spirit can we overcome these natural human tendencies. We all have them and I am no exception. The purpose of this post is to get us all to realize the importance of developing and working on a spiritual practice. In the same way it takes effort to exercise and eat right, it does take effort to maintain a spiritual path. But what are the alternatives? Get fat, out of shape, and live down, depressed, and hopeless. The choice is up to each of us, but we can see the results of our choices when we see these terrible events happening in our world.

No, we can't change the world but we can change ourselves and that change will ripple into the great sea of humanity.

If this post made you think, consider joining our blog community by entering your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts plus a copy of my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Stay tuned for more positive and practical wisdom to help you ignite the power within and discover YOUR destiny!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel Paz


Thursday, February 15, 2018

7 Ways to Improve Your Relationships

Relationships are a gift. Like any gift, we must be open to receive them whatever form they come in. Most of us like to think we are open-minded and accepting of others but are we really?  We like our routines and habits. We like the people we hang around. We like the groups we belong to and the church we attend. But when was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and met people different from you? If we want better relationships and more peace in our world, it is important to accept and understand others who think differently than we do. Today I'll be sharing some tips on how to become more open-minded

1, Try something new
    Many times we form an opinion about something before we even give it a try. This goes with food, people, activities, belief systems, and so on. My mom is constantly amazed at how many different types of cuisines I enjoy. This is because I am open to trying them. Before you poo-poo something or someone, give it or them a chance. Go to that new ethnic restaurant that just opened up. Try a new social group or venue. Attend a sports event. You may well be pleasantly surprised.

2. Step out of your comfort zone
    This goes along with #1. The older we get, the more we feel comfortable in our regular habits
and activities. If we want to experience more of life, we have to make the effort to get out of our comfort zone. This could be as simple as planning a new route to work. Taking a different class at the gym. Trying a yoga class. Joining a foreign language club. The benefits are we will meet people who think differently than do and we will get an opportunity to practice accepting rather than judging others.

3. Visit a foreign country.
    This is one of my favorite ways to expand my mind. When I visit different countries, I get a chance to see how people live, dress, eat, and think. I also realize that people everywhere want the same things: a decent job, safety, good food, and affordable health care. Rather than expect things to be like home, enjoy the differences in cultures and lifestyles. Travel makes me appreciate what I have at home even more and gratitude is always a good thing. We have so much to be thankful for and often we take much for granted, like running water for instance. Did you know people in India have to walk miles to get fresh water? I know people who dump a glass of water without even a thought.

4.  Read more.
    We are all busy, but reading is essential for growth and expanding our minds. For example, if you're glued to the latest romance novel, why not try a historical fiction or a book on psychology or finances?The library is free and now you can download books right from your computer without having to go out of your house. Reading is a convenient way to absorb new thoughts. I love to read books on personal development and learn about different belief systems. It's my thing. How about you? What are you interested in? What would you like to learn more about?

5. Listen without judging.
    Most of us are quick to size up someone. When you meet a new person, reserve judgement. Don't categorize them right off the bat. It takes time to get to know people. Everyone has a story and until we know and undertand that story we can't really understand where they're coming from.  Focus more on listening and accepting them rather than trying to categorize them and put them into a neat little box. Try not to label. As long as someone is not hurting me, my philosophy is "Live and let live." Practicing mindfulness helps me to be more aware of when I am having judgemental thoughts.

6. Give up the need to be right.
    I have to admit I struggled with this one for a long time. Although I wasn't consciously trying to
prove the other person wrong, I realized people don't like to feel like they are wrong. So now, even if I am 100% sure about something, I don't insist on pressing my point. I let the matter drop. This gives them both freedom and dignity. This may be what is called allowing someone to "save face". When we always have to be "right" it is a sign our ego is in control, and not the spirit of God.

7. Ignore stuff 
     It's a hard thing to do at times but it's healthy. People say things without thinking. A lot. If I don't want to be continually offended, irritated, or hurt, I need to ignore comments. My son says it this way: "Don't allow it to land." When we don't allow negativity to land, we throw it back out there. When we don't react we save precious energy we can use elsewhere. Next time someone makes a snarky comment, try ignoring it and moving on. You'll be the better person for it.

These are some simple but effective ways to be more open-minded which will have the pleasant result of improving your relationships as well. What ways to you have of expanding your mind? Feel free to leave a comment below.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to be a part of our community, enter your email address in the box provided. I'll also send you a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".  Do share using the buttons below to your favorite social media site.

Until next time, give some of these tips a try and let me know how it goes.
Stay tuned for more on changing our thinking and transforming our lives and remember,

Keep looking up!

Ariel Paz

All rights reserved. If you wish to use this material contact me at arielpaz08@gmail.com




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lent: A Time to Hear From God

Life can get so busy, can't it? There are many distractions and unexpected challenges that show up such as inclement weather, car problems, relationship issues, sickness, to name a few.  How does one move forward and stay focused during these often hectic times? Could it be that the church, imperfect as it is, has provided us with a natural season to re-calibrate?

Lent falls during the dark, cold, days of winter and is a perfect time to slow down, refocus, and reprioritize what really matters in life. Many of us set goals the first of the year, but then get off track way too quickly. Why is that? Because of distractions, that's why! Let's take a look at a few biblical examples to understand the real intent of the season.

First we have Moses. Now Moses, you will recall, was raised in the royalty of the Egyptian palace. After realizing his true identity as an Israelite, he decided to leave the luxuries of Egypt and go live in the desert. Ever feel like you're in a dry, barren time in life? I have. It's not much fun but God usually has a purpose for times such as these. But back to Moses.

What was he doing out there those 40 long years? Or rather what was God doing in him during this time? God never wastes anything in our lives. Perhaps Moses was learning to trust, listen, & depend on God. I bet he did an awful lot of thinking during those forty years. Maybe he even thought his life was over. His executive position at the palace, surrounded by servants and riches, was a distant memory and now he was a nomad surrounded by mostly sheep.

But wait, God had big plans for him, didn't he? Remember the burning bush? God sure has a way of getting our attention suddenly. God's plan was to use Moses in a BIG way, which leads us to the next example, which shows us what not to do in the desert.

The suffering, beaten, down-trodden people of Israel. These were the chosen ones and look how much they suffered all those years in Egyptian captivity. Have you ever suffered many long years? I have. Enter Moses, stage right, to lead them out of bondage. How many miracles did they see? Hint: watch the movie "The Ten Commandments" or better yet, read the book of Exodus. The promise of a better life was before them, but what did they do? Complain, complain, complain; they complained about the food, the water, even the leadership. Sound familiar? FYI, God doesn't like complaining.

So they spent the next 40 years wandering the desert while God patiently waited for them to learn to trust him and accept their circumstances happily. But they didn't, and God said "Trip cancelled". The entire generation died off. But we do have a much better example of how to respond to times in the desert. Let's take a look at Jesus.

He, too, spent time alone in the desert. Forty days to be exact, which may be why Lent is 40 days. What did Jesus do during his desert time? Fast and pray, that's what. Commune with God.

The disciplines of solitude, fasting, and praying, draw our attention away from food, drink, and the distractions of the world. They open the channel to hear from the Lord. The devil tried to tempt Jesus in his weakest moments with the promises of worldly pleasure, power, and significance. His tactics have not changed one bit since then, have they? I have heard it said not to let ourselves get too hungry, too angry, too lonely, or too tired. These are the times when we too succumb to temptation. Many seek fame and fortune, power and luxury. But will any of these give us the peace and joy we so desperately crave? I think we know the answer.

Just as God had a plan for Moses and for Jesus, God has a plan and a purpose for your life, too. As we look at these examples, we see that by removing ourselves from the distractions and luxuries of this world, we can tune into the plan God has for our lives. During times of fasting, prayer, and quiet reflection we can hear that still small voice more clearly. We, too, can conquer the temptations that beset us and learn to trust God more fully. That, dear friends, is what Lent is all about.

Do you want to be more focused? Find a sense of purpose? It starts by learning to hear the voice of God and that happens by spending time in quietness, meditation, & reflection. Will you make time for spiritual disciplines this season or will it just be busyness as usual?

If you enjoyed the thoughts in this post, consider joining our community by entering your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts plus my free guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".  Lent is the perfect time to go further in your spiritual path.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel Paz

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

How to Be a More Loving Person

Would you consider yourself a loving person yet often feel unloved? Are you looking to find that perfect someone who will make you feel loved? As we continue this month's series on relationships and emotions, we'll talk about what love is and how to express love in meaningful ways.

What is love, exactly? First off, let's realize this: love is not a feeling.  All that stuff you see in the movies and on television is either superficial romanticism or lust. It is not the stuff long-lasting relationships are made of.

Love is a verb - an action word. Love means going out of yourself to do something good for the benefit of another, even when you don't feel like it.  We learn about love from various sources. Our parents are the first examples of love  We can learn a lot from them - what to do and what not to do. We learn from our dating experiences - what works and what doesn't. We learn from observing "happily married couples". But I think the best way to learn about love is from God himself.

We've all heard the phrase "God is love", but what does that really mean? To me, God is love means that if I observe how God expresses His love to me, that is how He wants me to love others. Now, I know this is a huge topic and I'm only going to touch the tip of the iceberg, but I think it is a topic worth contemplating. How do I see God loving me? The best place to start is in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God in the flesh; that's why God sent Him - to show us His great love for us and to demonstrate how to love others: by accepting those different from us, by not judging others weaknesses, by showing compassion, and by sacrifice. If you look at the list below, you will see that Jesus modeled all of them.



So, if you'd like to feel more love and be more loving, here are some questions to reflect on:
1) How do you show love?
2) Where did you learn to love?
3) How can you love better?

For practical suggestions, check out 1 Corinthians 13 which spells out several facets of being a truly loving person and Ephesians 5 which talks about how to love others.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to become part of our community, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts and a copy of my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, practice loving more, for whatever you give out to others will return to you manyfold.

Keep looking up!

Ariel Paz

All rights reserved. If you wish to use this material, contact me at arielpaz08@gmial.com. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Why It Is Important to Express Your Feelings

Are you one of those explosive reactive people who fly off the handle at the drop of a hat?  Or are you the other kind? The ones who keep a stoic face, expressionless and stuff the pain deep inside so you won't feel it? Perhaps you burst into tears or play the silent game. Emotions are powerful and they are tools to help us navigate the currents of life.

For some, emotion is seen as a sign of weakness. Real men don't cry is the unspoken mantra. Others put on a smiley face and pretend they're happy, when inside, they are crying. There are two extremes: those who cannot control their emotions and those who numb themselves out, refusing to feel anything. Neither is healthy.

Where are you when it comes to feeling and expressing emotions?

For much of my life I was told I was "too sensitive". As a young child, I cried at the sight of dead chickens in the meat market case. I refused to step on my own shadow. Years passed, and I learned to stifle my feelings, believing the lie I had been taught. But then, I paid a high price. Failure to express our feelings takes a toll on our physical and mental well-being. I realized I needed to express my feelings - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I was set free.

Emotions and feelings are a gift.  They help us deal with the situations and circumstances of life. They motivate us to action and they can also drag us into the depths of despair if we allow them.  Suppressing our feelings is both unhealthy and unspiritual. When we refuse to express our feelings, we are denying who we are at our core.

Feelings tell us much about ourselves and the world around us. Take fear, for example. Fear comes in many forms, but in truly dangerous situations, it warns us to flee and to protect ourselves. We must listen to our feelings or we risk injuring ourselves even more. Grief and anger are two other emotions that must be expressed. If we keep them in, we will fall into depression.

Think about the positive feelings such as love, joy, gladness, surprise, attraction, gratitude. These also tell us something about ourselves and our world. We live in a hurting place and many feel unloved. A kind word, a compliment, a word of praise or encouragement is a simple act we can all do every day to spread a little more loving kindness. We never know what battles someone may be facing. Love and joy resonate at a higher energy level. Can you not feel it when you are around someone who is radiating these? It's infectious and exhilarating. It's uplifting. Our emotions are keys to our spiritual growth.

So, as Valentine's Day approaches, let's each do our part to spread a little love around, shall we? What simple thing will you do to make the world a more joyful, kind and loving place? Encourage a friend who may be down. Send a card just to say hello. I still give out those little Valentine's Day cards we used to write as children to people at the office and neighbors. It's silly, I know, but everybody needs to be reminded they are loved and if it brings a smile to someone's face, then I've done my part. Will you do yours?

Stay tuned for more practical and positive wisdom to help you ignite the power within and discover YOUR destiny.

Until next time, keep looking up!


Ariel Paz 

All rights reserved. If you wish to use this material contact me at ariepaz08@gmail.com. 


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Life is the School, Love is the Lesson

Funny how a bumper sticker can capture a whole philosophy in one simple phrase. Saw this one on the car in front of me at the gas station yesterday and it made me pause to reflect on it.


"That is exactly true", I thought to myself while pumping gas.

I have always believed life is a school. I've been known to quip: "And some people are stuck in kindergarden", "This is a test, this is only a test" and "If life is a school, why does it take me so long to learn the lesson?" And then there are those who don't learn the lessons and will have to give it another go-round.

This bumper sticker was a powerful reminder to me of where my focus ought to be. Life is all about learning to love ourselves, others, and God in a balanced and healthy way. It takes practice and awareness. Most of us tip towards one direction or another and it's only when problems arise, we realize we have been out of balance with our love walk. For example, take the workaholic who neglects his/her family and ends up dealing with an affair, a divorce, or a rebellious teen. The scales were tipped too heavily on the work facet of life, right? Or the mother who idolizes her kids but neglects her own well being. Who is she not loving?

So what to do? When problems arise, don't just push through them or ignore them. Problems in life are a sign that something is out of balance and needs to be tended to. We must take responsibility for our lives and not continually blame our parents, our boss, or other people. That's what Adam and Eve did way back when. It wasn't the answer then and it isn't the answer now.

The answer is to realize what part I have played in the dramas in my life. Ask myself these questions:  "How loving have I been - to others, to myself and ultimately, to God?" "Did I do the honorable thing?" Most of the time the honorable thing is the most difficult thing to do. But that's where courage and integrity come in. Am I living according to my highest values or am I succumbing to the pressures of others, society, my past hurts?

If I want to move forward in my life, I must take responsibility for my actions. It is true, we reap what we sow. Call it karma if you like, but you get the idea. Whenever we fail to do the loving thing towards ourselves or others, it will always come back to us. We will get back what we put out. Learning to love is a lifelong practice and the good news is we get plenty of opportunities.

Who can you be more loving towards today? Your spouse? Your coworker? Yourself? Love to hear your thoughts on this post so drop me a note or leave a comment.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our community, please enter your email in the box provided. When you do, I'll send you a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path.".

Stay tuned for more positive and practical wisdom and until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel Paz

All rights reserved. If you wish to use this material contact me at arielpaz08@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

How to Transform Your Life - Part 2

What change would you like to make this year? Lose 5 - 10 lbs? Get in shape? Get your finances in shape? Learn to meditate? I know I always have something to work on. We've talked about the importance of setting goals and I am a firm believer in them. This week, however, I heard a slightly different take on how to transform your life and I am excited to share it with you.

But first, let's talk about what prevents us from making those changes we so desire. What are some things that prevent us from moving forward?

1. Procrastination
    You've heard that saying "Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today" and it's true. What doesn't get done today, will spill over into tomorrow's to-do list and eventually we will feel overwhelmed. We use excuses such as "I don't feel like it", "I'm too tired", "I'll do it tomorrow". Sound familiar? What's your favorite procrastination excuse?

2.  Distraction
     You've decided today is the day you are going to declutter your office. You have good intentions and you start off with good momentum. Then you think of someone you want to call and pick up the phone. Or you decide you need a snack and head into the kitchen. Distractions come in many forms all designed to keep us from achieving our purpose. We have to be conscious of distractions.

3.  Rationalization
     I have a friend you keeps saying she's on a diet and wants to lose weight yet everytime we go out to eat, she says "I deserve this" or "I'll start my diet tomorrow". Working hard at the office all day is not a reason to overeat when you get home at night. Nor is the fact that you broke up with your boyfriend or the fact that you don't have a boyfriend. We can all come up with ideas to justify not changing yet all that does is keep us stuck right where we are.

4.  Condemnation
     Okay, so I said I was going to lose weight this week and once again, I head for the cheese and crackers or the wine or the ice ceam or the chocolate. These are just examples of how we can derail ourselves by our own choices and lack of will power. If you're anything like me, emotions can have a powerful impact on my will power and my ability to say "No" to myself. We all do this but what is worse is beating ourselves up about our slip-ups. When we guilt ourselves, we decrease our motivation to start again fresh the next day. Eventually we will say "What's the use?" and resign ourselves to our condition. It doesn't have to be so emotionally debilitating.
    Instead of beating yourself up, be kinder to yourself. Say "Well, today I didn't do so well. Tomorrow is another day." Give yourself hope instead of feeding despair. Every day is not going to be easy. Every day is not going to be successful. Yet there will be successful days if we keep at it and eventually the successful days will outnumber the unsuccessful days.

These are 4 things to keep in mind when you decide to make a change in your life. If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our community, enter your email in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts plus a copy of my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Stay tuned for more practical and positive wisdom so you can ignite the power within and discover YOUR destiny!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel Paz