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EIGHT KEYS TO

HEALTH AND WHOLENESS


Think, Feel, Heal


Think, Feel, Heal

EIGHT KEYS TO HEALTH AND WHOLENESS

By Rev. John A. V. Strickland

Transform Now Publications

Atlanta, Georgia


Disclaimer: The information in this book is designed to provide helpful and

interesting information. This book is not meant to be used, nor should it be

used, to diagnose or treat any medical condition. For diagnosis or treatment

of any medical problem, consult your physician. The publisher and author are

not responsible for any specific health or allergy needs that may require medical

supervision and are not liable for any damages or negative consequences

to any person reading or following the information in this book. Answers to

prayer often come through medical professionals and others in the healing

arts and sciences.

Book design: SPS Publications, Eustis, Florida

Cover photo: istockphoto/shuttertop

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the New Revised

Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches

of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights

reserved.

Copyright © 2018 by John A. V. Strickland

ISBN 978-1-7323505-0-2

For updates and information about Rev. John A. V. Strickland’s speaking

engagements, visit www.thinkfeelheal.com.

4


Contents

Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Overview: Part One . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Chapter 1: Give Thanks in Advance for Everything . . . 19

Chapter 2: Believe You Can Be Healed . . . . . . . 25

Chapter 3: Love Is the Answer, the Only Answer . . . . 33

Chapter 4: Will, Willful, Willing . . . . . . . . . 41

Chapter 5: Faith with Hope and Imagination . . . . . 47

Chapter 6: Imagination . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

Chapter 7: Forgiveness . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

Chapter 8: Authentic Action . . . . . . . . . . 69

Epilogue: Part One . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

Overview: Part Two . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77

Chapter 9: Prayer and Meditation. . . . . . . . . 79

Chapter 10: Your Definite Chief Aim 87

Chapter 11: Seva: Unselfish Service . . . . . . . . 93

Chapter 12: The Heart-Mind Connection . . . . . . 97

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Chapter 13: The Sympathetic Vibration . . . . . . . 103

Chapter 14: No Sick Atoms 109

Chapter 15: Clean Up Your Messes . . . . . . . . 113

Chapter 16: Write Your Own Epitaph . . . . . . . 117

Chapter 17: How I Found Healing . . . . . . . . 121

Chapter 18: Transition Is a Form of Healing. Be Ready. . . 129

Chapter 19: The Final Analysis: You Are Already Whole . . 135

Afterword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141

Notes 143

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Preface

A spiritual man had developed a reputation as a gifted healer. He

was so powerful, he raised people from the dead! Some thought he

was God incarnate. Others called him a terrible blasphemer. One

day, a temple leader rushed to him for help. Although his daughter

had just died, he still had hope the spiritual man could heal her. As

they made their way to the temple leader’s home, a woman who

had been hemorrhaging for twelve years interrupted them. She recognized

the spiritual man and rushed toward him. “If I only touch

his cloak,” she said to herself, “I will be healed.” The spiritual man

turned and said to her, “Take heart. Your faith has made you well.”

She was healed instantly. The spiritual man continued traveling to

the home of the temple leader. Upon his arrival, he took the girl by

the hand, and the girl arose. Reports of this dramatic event spread

throughout the land. 7

MN

When I was a boy, my family rescued a magnificent shaggy mutt

from the Humane Society. He developed lumps on his head. The

veterinarian diagnosed malignant brain tumors and said our dog

had only a short time to live. A family of modest means, we did not

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THINK, FEEL, HEAL

have the financial wherewithal to pay for costly treatments. So, we

used the tools available to us: love and prayers. The tumors went

away and he lived a long and happy life. In the ensuing years, I have

seen many animals and children respond to the curative powers of

love and prayers. Something about their openness and innocence

makes them receptive to such things. As adults, past hurt, abuse,

and feelings of abandonment may keep us from easily opening ourselves

to love and prayers. Children and beloved pets can teach us a

lot about the miraculous power of faith.

MN

As a young man, I earned a scholarship to play football at Vanderbilt

University. In one game, I suffered a terrible injury to my

neck and shoulder and was partially paralyzed. My father, a medical

doctor, sent me to the finest specialists. They said I had torn

two major nerves. The doctors advised that with therapy I could

improve the movement of my arm and hands, but the nerves could

not regenerate and I would not recover. Yet, I did recover. Over the

last fifty years, I have had no impairment whatsoever. I believe my

recovery was due to two things: I meditated regularly to realize a

conscious connection with my God, and I found a warm, loving environment

where people believed in me when I was having a hard

time believing in myself.

MN

A friend was diagnosed with oral cancer. The recommended surgery

would leave her face horribly disfigured. Two days before the

operation, she was meditating with a friend and heard a clear message

from her father: “You do not have to die to earn my love.”

When she reported for surgery, the doctor ordered new X-rays to

see how far the cancer had spread. Amazingly, the cancer was com-

8


Preface

pletely gone. She has remained cancer free for the last thirty-five

years.

MN

I was called to the hospital to visit a church member who had

just been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. I had been with

that church only a short time and did not know him very well. He

told me his story from the hospital bed. In his early adulthood, he

had been a raging alcoholic. He found Alcoholics Anonymous, sobriety,

and God. He had worked to make amends where he could.

He even built a clubhouse in his backyard for AA meetings. While

he asked for prayers for healing, he said he was at peace with his

life and ready for his next adventure on the other side. He had

a fast-growing type of cancer, and his physical body deteriorated

quickly. Throughout the days ahead, his spirits remained high. One

day, he gathered his family and friends, then asked them to say The

Lord’s Prayer aloud. After everyone said “Amen,” they opened their

eyes, and he had indeed crossed over to the other side. To me, this

too is an example of healing.

MN

Thirty years ago, when I was director of a large, worldwide prayer

ministry known simply as Silent Unity, I was invited to dedicate

a church in the Bahamas. The minister was a friend of Sir John

Marks Templeton, a world-renowned investment manager and

philanthropist.

In ancient times, healers were the ones who explained science and

the cosmos. At some point, science and religion separated. Sir Templeton

dreamed of bringing them back together. Thus, he created

the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion—presented annually

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THINK, FEEL, HEAL

to a person making great strides in bringing spirituality and science

together.

Because of my connection to healing through prayer, Sir Templeton

asked to meet with me to discuss spiritual healing and other

ideas. He said his children’s generation knew thousands of times

more about science and the human body than he or his parents,

but they did not know much more about God. He wanted my help

researching spiritual healing. While my organization did not feel

guided to participate in a study of this nature, my conversation with

Sir Templeton stayed with me as I continued to witness the power

of prayer.

MN

My father was a medical doctor, and one of my brothers followed

in his footsteps. They were disappointed I did not become a man of

science, too. Believe me, the world is better off not having me as a

medical doctor, but that does not mean I have given up my interest

in healing, especially since I consider the recovery of my neck and

shoulder to be a spiritual healing. Sometimes in medical science, an

unexpected recovery with no apparent reason is called spontaneous

remission. I don’t care what they call it; I just want it when I am in

physical distress.

This book is more about spiritual healing than medical science.

It is more about spirituality than religious dogma. Yet our physical,

mental, emotional, and spiritual practices are all connected. I have

learned this in more than forty years of teaching the approaches to

healing outlined in this book. In the following pages, you will read

about some of the people who have been helped by these ideas.

May this book be a blessing to you or someone you love.

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Introduction

In contemporary times, a new insight into spiritual truths has

revealed a major idea that affects health, happiness, and overall well

being. This is the big idea: consciousness precedes manifestation.

Think even bigger and realize that consciousness, in fact, causes

manifestation. Consciousness is the sum total of everything we

have thought, felt, experienced, and believed. It is what we have

hoped for, what we have loved, and what we have feared. It is the

whole energy of our being. We are, in a sense, a big bundle of magnetic

energy, drawing some things to us and repelling others. When

we experience something we don’t like, we usually try right away to

change that thing, person, or experience. We are outward-directed

and other-directed. But this is getting the cart before the horse. We

first need to work on our own consciousness. The premise of this

book is that we can change our lives by changing our consciousness.

We effect change by working from the inside out, not vice versa.

We are going to start with five components of a healing consciousness,

which are Belief, Love, Will, Faith, and Forgiveness.

We will expand and modify these simple concepts to include the

following eight ideas: Thanks in Advance, Belief, Love, Willingness,

Faith, Imagination, Forgiveness, and Authentic Action. These

eight principles, when understood and applied, will change your

consciousness, body, and experiences in this physical world.

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12


An Overview of Part One

THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF HEALING

In the mid-1970s, I began studying the metaphysics of the Gospels

with Rev. Ed Rabel, one of my seminary teachers. With extraordinary

spiritual insight, he taught us the Bible was written on

different levels, from the literal to the metaphysical. That is, in addition

to being historical, the Bible is symbolic and allegorical. Have

you ever picked up a book you read years ago and found new and

deeper meanings in it? After studying with Rev. Rabel and contemplating

his insights, I found when I again read the Bible, it took on

an entirely new and deeper meaning.

Rev. Rabel defined metaphysics as, “That which is true of the interior

life of all individuals.” In academia, metaphysics is defined as,

“A division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental

nature of reality and being that includes ontology, cosmology, and

often epistemology.” 2 For our purposes, we are going to stick with

Rev. Rabel’s definition in which the Bible is the textbook for the

soul’s unfolding. The Bible is less about ancient history and more

about your history and mine, he said, explaining its stories apply to

everyone, whether Jewish, Christian, or agnostic. Rev. Rabel was

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THINK, FEEL, HEAL

a mystic, and I often wondered where he came up with his ideas.

Through his teaching, I was inspired to dig more deeply and learn

more about my own soul.

As Rev. Rabel looked for a spiritual approach to healing, he concluded

one must either connect with someone with a healing consciousness

or develop one’s own healing consciousness. For our purposes,

consciousness is the sum total of all our thoughts, feelings,

impressions, attitudes, beliefs, wants, hopes, imaginings, loves, and

fears. We have built our consciousness from the time we were born,

perhaps even earlier, being conscious in our mother’s womb. We

receive, experience, and express ideas and things according to what

is in our consciousness. When we do not like our lives, we often try

to change something or someone outside of us, usually with little

success.

For example, studies show that people who win or inherit a large

sum of money are not any happier after receiving the money than

they were before. If we don’t have a consciousness of abundance,

we don’t know what to do with the money when we get it. If we

don’t have a consciousness of loving relationships, even if we should

somehow find the perfect mate, we still won’t be happy. If we exercise,

rest, meditate, take supplements, get medical treatments, have

chiropractic adjustments, and ingest healing herbs, we still will not

achieve healing without a consciousness of health.

From Rev. Rabel’s studies of the healing miracles in the Gospels,

he identified five components of a healing consciousness. He

said we could make contact with someone who has a healing consciousness,

as did the woman in the story from the ninth chapter of

the Gospel of Matthew, or we could develop our own healing consciousness.

Since we don’t really know what is in the consciousness

of another, it is better to develop our own.

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The Consciousness of Healing

I hope you will read the entire book, but I am going to tell you

up front the components of a healing consciousness according to

Rev. Rabel. They are Belief, Love, Will, Faith, and Forgiveness.

One or more of these components appear in every healing miracle.

As I teach these five principles in lectures, classes, and workshops

around the United States, many people report amazing experiences

of renewed health. Rev. Rabel believed developing a healing consciousness

was also the how-to of healing. Being a good student,

I accepted his teachings and taught it myself. In time, however, I

began to see there is more to healing than this five-part model.

Rev. Rabel never wanted to write a book because he believed it

was important to reserve the right to change his mind. I feel certain

if Rev. Rabel were alive today, he would give his blessing to

the principles I have added. Jesus gave thanks before the desired

demonstration. When He raised his friend Lazarus from the dead,

He began by giving thanks. He was giving thanks even before the

demonstration.

Rev. Rabel saw in the Gospel narrative of the healing miracle

at the pool at Bethesda the man had to have the will to be well.

Using one’s power of will is essential to healing. However, I believe

healing needs more than human, ego-driven willpower—it requires

a willingness toward Spirit. A strong will can get us lots of things

in life, but it can also cause lots of challenges for us in our bodies,

emotions, and relationships. Thus, I prefer to call the power willingness.

An idea from Charles Fillmore (1854–1948), a true American

mystic, will help us grow our healing consciousness. Mr. Fillmore

believed faith was a spiritual gift to all human beings and it had a

twin: imagination. You can use your power of imagination to visualize

health and wholeness (and any other good thing you desire).

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All of us use imagination every day, but most imagine things unconsciously.

Consciously direct your imagination and add it to faith,

and you are well on the way to well-being.

I have also concluded in addition to having a consciousness of

healing, one needs to take authentic action. Jesus instructed a blind

man to wash the clay out of his eyes in order to see (see the ninth

chapter of the Gospel of John). The man had to do something.

Let me share a deeply personal story. I visited a dear friend in

the hospital before his surgery and sat with his family during the

operation. After the several-hour operation, the surgeon was able

to get most of the tumor, but not all. The operation gave the man a

couple more years. He told me he knew he should have gone in for

checkups much earlier, but he kept putting it off. He did not blame

himself or get depressed. He lived the rest of his life with calmness

and equanimity. He remained a kind, positive, and generous man.

He advised everyone he knew to take authentic action and have

regular checkups. This kind of authentic action may save your life.

Certainly, a lot of us are alive today because we followed the advice

of the medical profession and had regular checkups. When we work

on our consciousness, we ought not ignore common sense or advice

from the medical profession. The blind man in the story from the

Gospel of Matthew did as he was told and his sight was restored.

Sometimes, Jesus would speak a word of healing or lay His hands

on someone, and at other times the person had to do something in

order to be well.

In Part One of our book, we expand our components of a healing

consciousness by several more ideas. We start with five basic

ideas, then grow our formula to eight: Give Thanks in Advance,

Believe You Can Be Healed and Are Being Healed, Love Yourself

and Everyone in Your Life, Be Willing to Be Totally Healed, Have

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The Consciousness of Healing

Faith that You Are Being Healed, Use Your Imagination to Visualize

Your Complete Healing, Forgive Everyone and Everything,

Including Yourself, and Take Authentic Action. That is our plan for

wholeness and well-being. In Part Two, we will explore more ways

to be well. If you truly work all the ideas in Part One, you will find

wholeness. If you add the ideas in Part Two, you will be amazed at

the high level of your well-being.

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18


Chapter 1

GIVE THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR EVERYTHING

Well-being is an amazing combination of physical, emotional,

mental, and spiritual wellness. Once, I was serving in a ministry

in which two young women were working with a psychiatrist

who used hypnotherapy to lose weight. They loved our church and

encouraged this doctor, a retired Armed Services psychiatrist, to

come for a visit. Initially, he declined, saying, “Most of the people

I worked with in the Army had problems caused by their religion.”

They said to him, “But my church is different.”

He countered, “Everyone says that about their church.”

They persisted: “Just come one time. If you don’t like it, you don’t

have to go back, and we will quit the church, too.”

He came. He loved it. He stayed and became one of the largest

contributors. I am not intent on criticizing anyone’s religion, but

I do think that a lot of challenges arise out of one’s feelings of

inadequacy and lack of healthy self-love. Our spiritual beliefs, attitudes,

self-concepts, and beliefs about others, the world, and even

God have a profound effect on our well-being. I don’t know if the

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ideas in this book will bring you total, complete, pain-free, guiltfree

wellness, but I do know practicing these ideas will push your

total being toward greater wellness and happiness in life.

We start with a surprising idea: Give thanks in advance for everything.

From an early age, most of us were taught to say thank you

when someone gave us a present or did something nice for us. We

received a gift first, then we gave thanks. How can giving thanks

for what we desire help us be well, or happy, or prosperous? The

universe is made up mostly of energy. Some would say that it is all

energy. We are, at the very least, mostly energy, and energy responds

to our mental, emotional, and spiritual states. We draw experiences,

people, ideas, and even things to ourselves accordingly. Have you

ever walked into a room and noticed you were almost immediately

drawn to some people and repelled by others? It’s because of your

energy. I have been told by real estate professionals that a prospective

buyer makes up his or her mind about a home within fifteen

or twenty seconds after entering. Sights, sounds, or scents may influence

the decision, but in general, the prospective buyer senses

the energy of the house. Do you remember having anxiety about a

school exam and feeling sick to your stomach? It is about energy.

One of the greatest attitudes to adopt for anything good you

desire, including healing, is gratitude. In more than four decades

of ministry, I have found the happiest and healthiest people I encountered

were those who adopted an attitude of gratitude. They

were grateful for sunrises and sunsets, for sunny skies and rain, for

just about everything. The people who were most unhappy and unhealthy

focused their energy on what they did not have, the failures

they experienced, and the times when people mistreated them.

Their attitude of unhappiness and ingratitude continued to create

reasons to be unhappy and ungrateful, and their health suffered.

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Give Thanks in Advance for Everything

When you order a meal at a restaurant, you don’t ask for something

you don’t like. Think of the universe as a server in a cosmic restaurant,

standing at your table waiting to take your order. A grateful

attitude is like ordering our favorite meal, well-prepared and delivered

by a kind, attentive waiter. Your attitude will bring you something

energetically compatible.

I knew a kind, gentle, positive, loving minister whose church was

intentionally set on fire. What a horrible thing to happen! While

there was a lot of upset and fear among the members, this minister

did not change his attitude. He knew God and the universe

were on his side. They kept the church together for a year or so in

temporary quarters. Then, another congregation decided to move

and put their church up for sale. My friend’s congregation had the

money to purchase the soon-to-be vacated church. It turned out to

be much better than the one which had been destroyed. Even if we

have positive, grateful attitudes, we still may have health challenges

and all sorts of bad things happen. However, our attitudes will help

us through the difficult times and the health challenges, and our

attitudes will draw to us compatible experiences.

In the mid-1970s while attending seminary, I volunteered at the

Jackson County Jail and the Kansas State Penitentiary. One day in

the seminary’s bookstore, I came across an interesting title, Prison to

Praise, by Merlin R. Carothers, who had been serving a prison sentence

for a felony. Somehow, behind bars, he discovered a personal

relationship with God and caught the secret of a happy, healthy life:

Give praise every day for everything in this life. Praise and thanksgiving

are not literally the same, but they are certainly related.

So, let’s add the idea of praise to the idea of giving thanks in advance

of what we sincerely desire. Rev. Carothers began to praise

God when he was healthy, sick, hungry, full, treated well by the

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Chapter 17

HOW I FOUND HEALING

One of the courses I took as a freshman in college was Psychology

101. In the first class the professor told us we had a choice:

either we could write a term paper or we could be guinea pigs for

senior and graduate students. I and most of my classmates chose

the latter. I was a subject in all sorts of experiments. One required

me to be interviewed on various topics by a graduate student in

front of his professor and classmates. That was simple enough until

the graduate student asked me, “What was your favorite childhood

story?” I felt my blood pressure and temperature rising. Then he

expanded on the question. “Or who was your favorite super hero?”

I was a rough-and-tumble football player. I played linebacker, and

my coaches told me to play with reckless abandon. That was totally

out of character for me, but I played that way anyway. The graduate

student did not realize he had let me off the hook by asking about

my favorite super hero. I let out an inaudible (I hoped) sigh and

said, “Superman.” The audience nodded, and I could almost hear

them saying, “Well, of course. What would you expect a linebacker

to say?”

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Truth be told, my favorite childhood story was The Contented Little

Pussy Cat by Frances Ruth Keller. That story was too soft, warm, and

cuddly for me, a freshman linebacker, to acknowledge to a class full

of psychology graduate students. The story of my life, in my opinion,

had been about a little guy who was content, but unlike the pussy cat

in the story, I was convinced by friends and by the slings and arrows

of outrageous fortune to be discontent. I was on the journey back to

contentment. I learned that no matter what others think, I can be

content. No matter what others do or do not do, I can be content.

No matter what happens to my body, I can be content.

I was a content little boy, but a few years after I was introduced

to that sweet book my family fell apart. Suddenly, my father left

my mother, my brothers, and me to fend for ourselves. It was scary.

Money was scarce and sometimes we did not know where our

next meal would come from. Fortunately, our nice house in a nice

neighborhood with good public schools nearby was fully paid for

due to my mother’s inheritance. For some reason, my little-boy self

thought our father had left and money was scarce because I was

inadequate. So, I became an overachiever. I did very well in school

and athletics. I did not realize at the time that I was trying to earn

the love of father figures—my teachers and coaches. I am grateful

I had so many good coaches and teachers, but I became a people

pleaser. I had lost my sense of self and self-worth.

In my senior year of high school, I was an all-state football player

and a scholar. My mother only saw me play in one football game

in high school and that was when I was a sophomore. I scored the

winning touchdown in that game. Mother’s friends had to point

out to her that I was the one who scored that touchdown. She knew

little about sports and worked hard to put food on the table and

keep my brothers and me well clothed. I called her at work one day

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to ask her to take me to a hotel downtown, where I would be signing

a full scholarship to a fine university. She was both proud and

surprised because she did not really know about my athletic prowess.

Toward the end of my senior year, my mother died of cancer. I

had to get a legal guardian in order to finish school. I completed the

year successfully as valedictorian and most outstanding all-around

student.

I was in no mental or emotional condition to go away to college

to play football in the Southeastern Conference. I had a girlfriend

who was very important to me, and her family had kind of adopted

me. From the moment I arrived at college, I hated it. The coaches

were not like my father figures in high school. This was big business

and they rode me pretty hard. Depression sank in. While my

relationship with my girlfriend grew more difficult, I kept trying

to please my coaches. Eventually, I earned a starting position. This

was my first and last game as a starter on the freshman team of a

major university. I sustained a serious injury to my neck and right

shoulder, but I would not take myself out of the game. “I will prove

myself worthy,” I thought. Then, while favoring the other shoulder,

I injured it. I left the game, never to return.

The following morning, I called the coach and told him I was

quitting the team and dropping out of school. I felt horrible. I felt I

had overcome all odds to be a success and now I was a quitter. I had

failed miserably. I went home to Atlanta, totally overwhelmed and

defeated. I was told my right shoulder was permanently injured.

The doctors said, “With physical therapy it will be more functional,

but the injury is so severe you will never totally recover.”

I went home to lick my wounds. I broke up with my girlfriend

and lost her and her family as my support system. I felt alone, hopeless,

and helpless. Then I remembered how I loved the little church

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where my mother had dragged my brothers and me to Sunday services.

It was positive, warm, and loving. I showed back up in church,

and nobody there really cared if I was a football player or a scholar.

I enrolled at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and suddenly

found a warm home there. I was no longer a hero, but Georgia State

and my church didn’t mind. They didn’t care about my past failures

and that I had quit my previous school and football team. I am truly

grateful for them welcoming me as I was—a college freshman.

One of the interesting things about my childhood church is that

we meditated. Back in the 1970s that was pretty weird in Atlanta,

Georgia. During the Sunday service we would have a guided meditation

for about five to eight minutes. In classes and group meetings

we meditated for longer periods. I found that for eight minutes a

week I was not feeling miserable, wounded, or less than a human

being. I kept going back and discovered those eight minutes had

grown to thirty. As I kept going, those minutes grew. Meditation

allowed me to consciously connect with my Source, my God, my

Creator. During meditation, I was not thinking about how lost,

hopeless, and helpless I was. I was letting go and letting God be

God in me and through me. After about nine months, I woke up

one morning and said to myself, “Hey, I am not feeling miserable!

What am I feeling? I am feeling good!” At that moment I knew my

injury was completely healed.

I had not been consciously trying to find healing. I had not been

doing therapy, but I had been meditating, and not just in church. I

got tapes and instruction in the process of meditation. I went to a

church that was warm and loving, and I went to a university that

was warm and loving. Georgia State is a downtown, urban school.

In those days, we had about 20,000 to 24,000 students, about half of

whom went to night school. More than fifty percent of the students

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were married and about eighty percent worked. The average age was

about twenty-seven. These were people who valued a higher education

and were willing to work hard to get a degree or advanced

degree. It had a small campus footprint then, and no dorms. Yet it

became my home, my alma mater. I made good grades. I was inducted

into honor societies, and I was friends with the deans.

To what do I attribute my healing? First, I stopped dwelling on

the injury. Second, I found a warm, nurturing environment both at

school and at church. I want to particularly focus on the first item.

Emmet Fox, a famous metaphysical spiritual leader in the twentieth

century, held Sunday services for overflow crowds in Carnegie

Hall. His book The Sermon on the Mount gives tremendous practical

insights into the deeper meanings found in Jesus’s Sermon on the

Mount. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand

the esoteric teachings of Jesus.

Dr. Fox wrote on a number of other topics. One of his articles,

which you can find online, is “The Golden Key.” This has been a

life changer for me and for millions of others. He calls the Golden

Key scientific prayer. What does he mean by the term scientific? If

something is scientific, it should be replicable by others. In a scientific

experiment, if one establishes the same conditions, uses the

same substance, and follows the same steps, the results should be

the same. Fox taught that if you follow the methods prescribed in

“The Golden Key,” you should get the same results. What is Fox’s

Golden Key? He says to stop thinking about the problem and think

about God instead. That’s it. It is that simple. We cannot hold two

thoughts in mind at the same time. It is true that our minds can flip

back and forth from one thought to another, but we can only hold

one thought at a time.

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The basic rule of consciousness is called the Law of Mind Action.

Simply stated, that law is, “Thoughts held in mind produce in the

outer after their kind.” This is one of the most important ideas you

can ever learn about manifesting healing, happiness, abundance,

love, or anything else your heart truly desires. A wise person has said,

“A true desire is really God tapping on your heart to let you know

that God has something good in store for you.” At the time Dr. Fox

was preaching and writing, the emphasis in the metaphysical spiritual

community was on the power of the mind. New insights have

revealed to us that it is about both the mind and the heart. Our

thinking and feeling must work together. Therefore, I would restate

the Law of Mind Action like this: “Thoughts and feelings held in

heart and mind produce in the outer after their kind.” Instead of

just thinking about God and what you believe about God, add what

you feel about God. There is an old story about a young boy who

was frightened by a thunderstorm and cried out for his mother. She

came to him to comfort him and asked, “Don’t you believe God is

here with you?” He replied, “Yes, but sometimes I need God with

skin on!” He needed the physical presence of his mother to remind

him that God is always with him. Sometimes we need God with

skin on.

Let’s go back to my dark night of the soul when I decided to give

up my dream. A man named Frank Hart Smith stayed with me the

whole night in my dorm room to make sure I was going to be okay.

I will be forever grateful for this particular God with skin on who

was there when the thunderstorms in my soul were too much for

me to take. Years later, when I was about to graduate from seminary

and after I had passed my final exams, I wrote to him. “You

probably don’t remember me,” I said, “but you stayed with me all

night during my dark night of the soul. I just want you to know that

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I am okay. Next week I will be graduating from seminary and be

ordained.” He telephoned the seminary, and somehow they found

me and connected me on the call. He said, “John, this is Frank Hart

Smith, and I want you to know that I am angry with you.”

I was shocked. “Why is that?”

He said, “How did you think I could ever forget you?”

I hadn’t realized how deeply he cared about a young man in desperate

physical and emotional pain. I can see now that when I had

bottomed out and did not think I could go on, God provided Frank

Hart Smith to be God with skin on—the help I needed, and that

was the beginning of my healing.

After my healing was complete, late in my freshman year of college,

I knew what my mission was. I wanted to help people in the

way I had been helped. I was to love those who could not love

themselves, to believe in those who could not believe in themselves,

to be God in a skin suit to the best of my ability. I don’t believe my

healing was complete when my arm and neck recovered. In some

ways, the healing happened in my mind and heart before my body

got the message. In some other ways, the healing is still in process

as I share what I know about healing. This book is part of my healing

process. I hope it is part of yours!

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Chapter 18

TRANSITION IS A FORM OF HEALING. BE READY.

Many years ago, I heard a lecture by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross,

the Swiss psychiatrist, who had recently written her seminal work,

On Death and Dying. She was a remarkable woman who pioneered

care for those who were dying. One of my recollections is that she

said something to the effect of, “Dying is un-American.” She knew

we did not deal well with it. Today, I think we do much better. I am

so grateful for the work of hospice. I have often visited people who

are being cared for and loved as they approach their transition.

When my father-in-law was in hospice, I took my small dog to

see him. Duke was welcomed by Dale and the hospice workers.

We began calling my dog Rev. Duke, Minister of Unconditional

Love. He was never certified as a service dog, but he was welcomed

anyway. He used to sleep on my father-in-law’s legs as he watched

television. Hospitals, which are rightfully concerned about germs

and infection, have not been as open to having animals for visits,

but Duke and Dale had a great time together. I believe Dr. Kübler-

Ross’s work and lectures have helped change the world, and were

particularly influential in the United States.

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In my family and spiritual tradition, we often refer to the process

of dying as making one’s transition. I believe death is not an end

but a graduation. Dr. Kübler-Ross observed that dying was sometimes

thought of as failure or giving up. In some spiritual traditions,

people believe the person dying must have displeased God or

must have done something wrong. We need to get over this idea.

Dr. Kübler-Ross spoke of the olden days when a person knew he

was near death. That person would call the family and close friends

together so they could share their goodbyes and farewells. In more

recent times, terminally ill people were sequestered in sterile hospitals.

I have a colleague who shared about his mother-in-law’s passing.

He and his wife would crawl into bed with the dying woman to

hold her, comfort her, and weep together. I must confess I thought

that was strange when I first heard about it. In time I saw the beauty

and love in that act. Another colleague sent me a letter telling me

that he was dying. He used bright-colored ink and started the letter

with these words, “Hey John! Guess what?! I’m dying and I am

going to die consciously!” He did. The people who die consciously,

filled with light and love, are dying in a healthy way. They are making

their transition to the next life.

I do not intend to spend much time on theological points of view.

For some, if one has the right religion one gets into heaven after

death. My position is that God and the heavenly afterlife are big

enough for all of us, but I wish to share my mother’s point of view,

which I ultimately adopted. She believed that life was an endless

school. We have lessons to learn in life, and when we learn them

we graduate to the next life. If we don’t learn them in this life, we

repeat the course in the next life. When I was young, miserable, and

feeling like a complete failure, I wanted to give up and make my

transition. Then I thought about my mother’s theology and deter-

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Transition Is a Form of Healing: Be Ready

mined that it made sense to me. I decided I would rather learn my

lessons now than have to repeat the course.

I was once invited to be on a panel with others who have suffered

from depression. The audience was composed of psychiatrists,

psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and other mental health professionals.

They wanted to know what was most important to me in

getting over my depression. I told them of my mother’s spiritual

philosophy and how it inspired me to stop feeling sorry for myself,

to seek help, and get on with my life. Having suffered from depression

has helped me be a better minister to others. Do I like it when

I have bouts of depression? Of course not, but I have this philosophy:

Whatever life hands you, make the most of it and use it to

make the world better! Can I say my spiritual philosophy is correct

and better than any other spiritual philosophy? I cannot. I can only

say that having my belief has helped me live my life better and has

helped me help others live their lives better.

A new person visiting my church came through the receiving line

at the end of the service. She said, “Hi, my name is Jane [not her

real name], and I am dying. I wanted to check you out to see if you

could do my service after I die. I will make an appointment and

see you next week.” I thought to myself, “Oh, boy. This is going to

be a doozy of a meeting!” She came, and the meeting was, in fact, a

doozy, but in a good way. Her doctors had told her that her illness

was terminal and she only had a short time to live. She had asked

for prayers for healing, but she was getting ready for her transition.

She wanted to make preparations for her service. She told me I

had passed her test and I could do her service. Then, she proceeded

to tell me jokes about death and dying. It was her way of coping,

she said. So, I did the right thing. I told her jokes about death and

dying. Hers were much better. A month or two passed by and I got

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a call around midnight from her son. He apologized for calling at

such a late hour, but his mother had asked to see me, as she felt the

time of transition was near. I was instructed to go to the hospital at

the emergency room entrance. He would meet me there.

When I arrived, he again apologized, and I told him the call was

totally appropriate. His mother had told him she was dying. He

questioned her, “How do you know?”

She replied, “It’s my body. I know these things.” I told him his

mother had a unique sense of humor, and he said, “Yeah—it’s sick,

isn’t it?” I said, “No, actually it is quite healthy.” When I got to her

room, her other son was there and she had an oxygen mask on. She

looked as if the end were only moments away. She opened her eyes

and motioned me over to her bedside. Then she took off the oxygen

mask, and I leaned close to her lips so I could hear what I believed

would be her last words. She told me another joke about death and

dying! Then her ex-husband walked in, and I had a fearful thought

there would be some kind of argument. But, no, that was not the

case. She thanked him for coming to see her, and then said, “I just

want to thank you for giving me these wonderful sons.”

She did not make her transition that night. That came a few days

later, but she had one more joke for us. Her service was held at

a lovely chapel on a hillside in a beautiful cemetery. The sky was

blue. The temperature was around seventy degrees. There was a gentle

breeze. When the service concluded, we walked down the hill

to her grave for the interment. A small cloud came to where we

were standing and poured buckets of rain on us! We all figured that

somehow Jane had arranged for the weather to play a joke on us. It

was the perfect ending of a lovely service for a healthy person who

was graduating from this life experience to the next.

A long time ago, I heard a lecture on humor by psychiatrist Christian

Hageseth III. He wrote a book titled A Laughing Place, which

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Transition Is a Form of Healing: Be Ready

I have loved and used frequently in my ministry. At the end of the

book he shares some Positive Humor Affirmations. Let me share

just a few of them.

I am determined to use my humor for positive, loving purposes

only. I will take myself lightly, even though I take my work in life

seriously. I will not seek to be offended. When in doubt, I choose

to see others as meaning well. I will practice positive paranoia.

(My definition of positive paranoia is that I believe the world is

not out to get me, but to give me a blessing!) In adversity I will

use humor to cope, to survive, and to grow. On the day of my

death I will look back and know that I laughed fully and well. 10

I want to share one more story of transition, this one about a

friend’s father. He had his own church and his own minister. This

other minister was to do the bulk of the funeral message, and I was

to share a few remarks. This other minister had spent a good deal

of time with Frank (not his real name) toward the end of his life.

Frank was a man of faith. He loved God and he loved his neighbor

as himself. He loved his wife, his children, and extended family. He

lived long and well and provided well for his family. He trusted his

God and was not afraid of dying. In fact, his minister emphasized

that Frank had told him a number of times he was ready. He was at

peace. His body had served him well for a long time, but now was

the time to let go and transition to a new life in a new world. He

was ready.

I want to say here that I believe in healing. I believe God is for

healing. I believe the ideas I have shared will help us find healing.

That said, we shall make our transitions at some time. Let us live

our lives fully, follow our dreams, love one another, and do, to the

best of our abilities and understanding, those things that promote

good health and longevity. When the time comes to cross over to

the other side, may we be ready.

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Chapter 19

THE FINAL ANALYSIS: YOU ARE ALREADY WHOLE

In this final chapter I invite you to play a little game with me,

the What If game. I ask you this: what if you are already perfectly

whole and well? What if you are already that which you have been

seeking? What if you have all you need to be strong, happy, and

prosperous, with incredibly loving, mutually fulfilling relationships?

What if you already have all you could possibly need?

I have friends whose parents lived in Montana in a cabin that was

heated only by a wood-burning stove. The cabin had no air conditioning,

either. Now this was some time ago, in the twentieth century,

but in my lifetime. Their children had moved away, prospered,

and were living good lives. They worried about their parents as they

aged. The parents loved their home and had no intention of leaving

it. So, the children decided to give their parents the gift of a modern

HVAC system, completely installed, fully paid for. However, the

parents could not understand the concept of a modern thermostat.

All they had to do was set the thermostat to the desired temperature

and it would take care of everything, but they were used to

putting more logs in the stove when they were cold and opening

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up the doors and windows when they were hot. So, in the winter

they would turn the thermostat all the way up to its highest setting

until they got too hot, then open windows and doors. (My modern,

twenty-first-century thermostat watches my comings and goings.

It senses the times of day when I need the house to be warmer or

cooler and adjusts itself accordingly. It’s even more sophisticated

than the twentieth-century thermostat.) While this couple had a

thermostat that would take care of their need for warmth or cooling,

they continued to labor needlessly to make their home comfortable.

When it came to HVAC systems, they had everything they could

want or need. They just didn’t know it. What if you have everything

you could want or need but you just didn’t know it?

Born in 1952, I consider myself modern. As a child, I learned

what a checking account is and how to deposit money and write

checks. Some people prefer to live the old-fashioned way, especially

when it comes to trusting city folks. I know a story of a couple who

lived off the land, way out in the country. One day, the husband

died. A few weeks later, a man from an insurance company went to

the house to present the widow with a large check. Although the

insurance money would cover her expenses for the rest of her life,

she continued to live in poverty. She thought the outsider with a

fancy suit who arrived in a fancy automobile was a con man. She

could not believe that all she had to do was go to a bank, sign the

back of the check, and the money would be hers. What if you just

had to trust the universe in order to have everything your heart

sincerely desires?

I am partly Scottish by ancestry. I did not know this until my

father made his transition. At his memorial, some of the relatives,

whom I had not seen in more than forty years, said to me, “You

look a lot like your father. You and he are both more Nesbit than

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The Final Analysis: You Are Already Whole

you are Strickland.” The Nesbits were from southern Scotland and

the Stricklands were from northern England. The way I figure it

is that somebody snuck across the border and found a wife. A few

years ago, one of my brothers and I visited Scotland. In the lovely

city of Edinburgh, we found a pub called Filthy Richard’s. We

inquired about the name and were told that there had been a person

who lived on the street, sometimes cleaning up the alleyways

and emptying the trash cans. He was always filthy, but at the end

of the evening, the restaurants and pubs would give their leftovers

to him. Eventually, Richard disappeared. A man came looking for

him because he had inherited a great sum of money from a relative

he never knew he had. He died penniless, when all the time great

wealth was looking for him. What if your wealth and health are

looking for you?

As a young minister, I served a great congregation in Jacksonville,

Florida. I had drawn some young people to the church who thought

of me as more than their minister. I was their friend and they were

my friends. One day, they invited me to go tubing with them on the

Ichetucknee River. It sounded delightful to me, but there was one

hitch. They were going on Sunday morning and, of course, Sunday

morning was a work day for me. They were embarrassed when they

remembered I was a minister!

Anyway, they went tubing, and I preached on Sunday morning.

One fellow who went with them was most fearful. He had grown

up in New York City and had never learned to swim. Nonetheless,

he was convinced to go tubing. There were no life vests where they

rented the inner tubes. The New Yorker became more fearful. As

they floated down the river, his tube sprang a leak. You know where

I am going with this, don’t you? Yes, the man in the leaky tube began

to scream for help. He was panicking. He was sure he would

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die. His fears had come true. This is the way fear works. We find

these sage words from the Old Testament: “Truly the thing that I

fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease,

nor am I quiet; I have no rest; but trouble comes.” ( Job 3:25–26)

This fearful man in the leaking inner tube manifested the thing he

feared. He was neither at ease nor was he quiet. Trouble came to

him, but his life was not done. Two men grabbed him by the shoulders

and shook him until he stopped screaming. One of them, in a

firm and loud voice, said, “Just stand up!” The water was only a few

feet deep and it was flowing very slowly. To be saved from what he

believed was his watery grave, he only needed to stand up! He did

and the story had a happy ending. I think even more important is

that the man then decided to go to the YMCA and take swimming

lessons! Do you remember the story about the healing at the pool at

Bethesda, which we discussed in an earlier chapter? What did the

Man from Nazareth say to the man who decided he wanted to be

healed? “Stand up, take your mat, and walk.” The man did just that.

What if all you need to be well, happy, and fulfilled is to stand up?

In the holy book from the Abrahamic religions, there is a familiar

creation story from Genesis 1:1–3: “In the beginning when God

created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and

darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept

over the face of the waters. Then God said….” Let’s just stop right

there. In the beginning there was God, the self-existent one and

the only one, but God is a Creator God, so God decides to create.

What is the stuff of creation? We might think of this as creation ex

nihilo, or creation out of nothing. God created out of nothing, or so

it would seem, but I don’t think that is exactly correct. God created

using God material or God stuff. Everything is created out of Godstuff.

The wind from God is thought of as the Holy Spirit. God’s

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The Final Analysis: You Are Already Whole

breath is moving across the unformed God stuff, and God then

begins to speak the words of creation. In Genesis, chapter two, we

find another creation story. I want to draw your attention particularly

to the seventh verse: “. . . then the Lord God formed man from

the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath

of life; and the man became a living being . . . ” So human beings

were created by the self-existent Creator God who breathed (with

God-breath) life (God-life) into the dust (which is God-dust or

God-stuff ) and voilà! human beings had life! You and I are direct

descendants from God.

I had a wonderful realization when I was six years old at Camp

Celo, a Quaker camp in North Carolina. It suddenly came to me

like a bolt of lightning: All human beings are related! Yes! I told everyone

who would listen, and they thought, “How cute, little Johnny

has figured out that we are all related!” It took a while longer,

say twenty or thirty years, to realize that we are all descended from

God, created in God’s image and likeness and endowed with God

powers! We are God-beings. The Master Teacher, Elder Brother,

and Way-shower tried to tell us we are already what we have been

seeking to be. He said, “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about

your life.” (Matt. 6:25) “You are the salt of the earth.” (Matt. 5:13)

“You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14) “Is it not written in

your law, ‘I said, you are gods?’” ( John 10:34) Finally, “Very truly, I

tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I

do and, in fact, will do greater works that these. . . .” ( John 14:12)

The message is that we are already everything we have been

thinking because we are created by God. The big challenge is that

we have been asleep to the truth of who and what we really are. We

have been hypnotized by life, in a sense, into believing we are less

than good. We can’t do much, and we have to live sickly, unhappy,

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meager lives. What I have attempted to do is share truths I believe

will awaken you to your imprisoned splendor. I want you to know

you are powerful. You are whole. You have everything you need

within you, not because of anything you have done or earned, but

because you are beloved of God. As God’s beloved child you have a

right to be well. I bless you, my friend. May you know the truth of

who you are, and may that truth set you free from illness, unhappiness,

and any form of lack. This is the truth: you are already that

which you have been seeking.

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Afterword

Many years ago, an older friend of mine said, “I had never read the

Bible cover to cover. I made the intention to do so and began my

task. When I got to the point where I read, ‘In the beginning God’

(KJV Gen. 1:1), I stopped. I needed to ponder the meaning and importance

of the beginning phrase in the Bible. I pondered this passage

for fifteen years and then I wrote a book on it.” Unfortunately,

I never got to read that book. I was inspired by the understanding of

a seminary professor back in the mid-1970s. He perceived from his

study of the Gospel account of Jesus’s healing miracles that there

were five components of what he called “a healing consciousness.”

I was excited about his teaching. For years I taught Rev. Ed Rabel’s

ideas, and they were well received. Over time I added two more

steps, plus the idea of taking authentic action. Later I added more

ideas I believe will help one find health and happiness. I have been

saying for many more than fifteen years that I was going to write a

book on these ideas, but with ministerial duties as my top priority,

I did not find or make the time to do so.

I had a teacher and coach who was fond of saying, “Successful

people do what they say they will do.” Her wisdom has stuck with

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me. So, when I retired from full-time pulpit ministry, I decided to

do what I had been saying I would do. I wrote the book Think, Feel,

Heal.

I am grateful to all the people who encouraged me to write this

book, and I am grateful to you, dear reader, for taking the time to

read and consider these ideas. May they give you hope and some

fresh ideas about how you, too, can find healing.

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Notes

1. These words are a paraphrase of the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 9,

verses 18–26.

2. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2016.

3. Norman Cousins, “Anatomy of an Illness (As Perceived by the Patient),”

New England Journal of Medicine 295 (December 32, 1976):

1458–1463.

4. Norman Cousins, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient

(New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1979).

5. Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1976),

8–9.

6. Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., and Diane Cirincione, Ph.D., Mini

Course for Life (Sausalito: Mini Course Publishing, 2007), 8–9.

7. Dr. Wayne Dyer, Your Erroneous Zones (New York: Funk &

Wagnalls, 1976), 29.

8. “The Complete Artscroll Siddur,” in The Interfaith Prayer Book, ed.

Ted Brownstein (Lake Worth: Lake Worth Interfaith Network,

2014), 31.

9. Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., and Diane Cirincione, Ph.D., Mini

Course for Life (Sausalito: Mini Course Publishing, 2007).

10. Christian Hageseth, A Laughing Place: The Art and Psychology of

Positive Humor in Love and Adversity (Minneapolis: Berwick Publishing

Company, 1988), 141.

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MN

For updates, visit

www.thinkfeelheal.com.

MN

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