I met with my spiritual director today. In our time of prayer and reflection with God, the image came to mind of being seated among colored shards of glass. And I sensed God’s direction to let him put them together into a beautiful mosaic. How less beautiful would the work of art be without his Light to shine through it?
I don’t know how to put the broken pieces of my heart or my life together. But, I can hand them over to my Artist to make a masterpiece. The design, intention, and artisanship, of a Creator changes the useless into his glorious creation. I’m “in progress”, and when he’s done, I won’t just be mended, but I’ll be his lovely work of art.
Help me, dear God.
Do you feel like a mosaic in-progress? What places need to be mended in your life?
Don’t be tempted to …ahem… peg Jael as the Biblical forerunner of the fierce “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling”. She was a nobody who cared for sheep and endured the harsh elements.
As a tent dweller of the Kenite clan, she was riffraff to the nth degree. (The spiffy clothing you may see her depicted in is just wishful thinking. A bath would be hard to come by, let alone silk fineries, and dainty hairstyling.)
The Biblical story of Jael is hardcore violence! (10 sec read here)
So-NEVER doubt this, Jael is one shrewd and formidable female; and she clobbers an expert of war, with her own violence, as a part of God’s plan.
She’s sharp, very sharp.
Could this be one instance (of many) where a Bible story may effect an impressionable mind? Perhaps envision the scene following a Bible study at a female penitentiary … “Yo, ladies, are you ready to get your Jael on!? Wooo…” Okay, maybe not. But, I can totally see a Bible inspired video game for Christian families….rated T for Teen (of course)… that includes this scene. The object would be to get in the most spike poundings before the warrior wakes up. That’s completely obvious, right?
Incidentally, this story also proves how brilliantly somniferous warm milk can be. Note to self.
Most importantly, this story begs us to root for Jael, and everyone like her. She’s an impoverished foreigner. A diminutive herding woman. And she triumphs in a crucial battle to save a whole nation. Underdog doesn’t begin to describe her.
This isn’t just an astonishing battle tale, or reversal of fortune story, it’s a message of hope for all of us up against the odds. God gives us the strength to peg and conquer our obstacles. God’s character is shown in this and the many underdog stories in the Bible. Literarily unheard of, this story is like no other. No other ancient literature in the world included women very much, let alone full- blown heroines. But, God captures his heart for us in this story of an unlikely woman who saves an entire people group from destruction.
Remember this: Undoubtably, you have God’s camaraderie when the odds are against you, or when your foes or circumstance seem too great to overcome. God has mercy for your “type,” and it is his joy to help you prevail. Keep your hope in the Lord, the Almighty King.
Do you ever feel like an underdog?
What would you like to pin and conquer?
Wicked good Tip for my readers: Stay current with all the sites you like, and the latest from here, quickly and easily with Google Reader.
It’s not so much a matter of who we are, but who we belong to.
This poem was written by a man who would soon die at the hands of his Nazi captors. At the end of his life, he could question who he was, and who he had been, but his resolution to all of that rests in Theological principle, in worldview.
Please enjoy, and feel free to comment.
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhöffer, a young theologian of great promise, was martyred by the Nazis for his participation in a plot against the life of Adolf Hitler. His writings have greatly influenced recent theological thought. [This article appeared in the Journal Christianity and Crisis, March 4, 1946. Used by permission. This article was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.]
Who am I?
They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.
Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?
Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, 0 God, I am Thine!
It happened in a spot located on the north bank of the Jabbok close to the Jordan River. God and Jacob grappled. Um, what?
This has to be one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible. It’s just 9 verses long. Click this to read it quickly, in a cute, new window.
(And, no, I don’t think the angel/incarnation of God had wings like we see depicted in this illustration. And I have to believe he had a much nicer hairdo, too.)
SO! After that all-night bout, Jacob names the place Peniel, which means “facing God”. Once you go head-to-head with God Almighty, in the flesh, in an epic OT (Old Testament) Smackdown, you just have to name the place something cool, or memorable. You have to do it…so you don’t convince yourself that you were just dreaming, like before. Later, you’ll say, “Yes, kids, I wrestled God all night right here. I had a pretty mean grip on him, and my hip has been killing me ever since.”
The incarnation of God dislocates Jacob’s hip, with just a touch. But, you know what? Jacob still hung on tightly and relentlessly until the angel granted him a blessing. Thus, Jacob carried a permanent reminder of struggling with God.
The hip joint is very strong. Hip injuries like this are not too common, but they do occur sometimes in rough and tumble sports. Here is a little research I gathered, so we can better understand the marathon of a match, and the (possible) physical consequences.
From Chicago Sports Medicine
This injury is more common in such sports as football, rugby, hurling, and soccer, the individual is hit in the front of the thigh, forcing the thigh/hip complex backward, resulting in hip dislocations. This tears the ligamentum teres and the posterior capsule.
(In folk style/scholastic wrestling, there is a technique/move called “Jacob’s hook”. Yes, it can be dangerous, cause a hip dislocation, and lasting pain.)
The vascular supply to the femoral head is stretched and torn as the posterior displacement increases. Generally (in athletics), the participant is not allowed to return to athletics for a minimum of three months. Long-term consequences of posterior hip dislocations can include sciatic nerve injury, avascular necrosis of the femoral head (hip joint damage due to decreased blood supply), and significant arthritis and cartilage damage.
A joint dislocation significantly disrupts all the structures that support the joint. The athlete will be out of commission for a minimum of three months if he/she does traditional sports medicine treatments. Even after all of that time, there is no guarantee that one will be left with a strong hip joint.
The children of Israel remember the event by never eating this part of an animal. The sciatic nerve is known in Hebrew as the gid hanasheh. The process of removing the sciatic nerve (as well as certain large blood vessels and forbidden fats) from the surrounding meat is known as nikkur, or “deveining.” Since this is a difficult and delicate process, cuts from an animal’s hindquarters (including the Filet mignon) are generally not sold as kosher. (from wiki)
Part of the blessing Jacob receives involves his name change ushering in a new identity for this youngest and far sneakier of the twins boys of Isaac. He is given the name Israel.
Yes, Jacob hangs on all night. Yes, the passage makes it seem like the angel had to keep an early morning appointment elsewhere, with all that “Let me go for it is daybreak” business, as if he’s Edward (the vampire) in the Twilight series. He seems to give in to Jacob’s iron grip. But…
Israel means “God prevails”.
The ending of the name Israel, “el” is most often translated from Hebrew as God, or god.
The first part of the word (isra, or some approximation) is translated – as contended, or striven, or wrestled.
Sometimes this story is interpreted that it is Jacob who does the prevailing or overcoming; but it is God who heals Jacob by revealing himself to him, man-to-man. He “breaks” him to begin to heal him, in every way. God perpetuates a grappling stalemate. Although he could, God chooses not to defeat Jacob in a straight-forward victory by a submission hold, or pin, etc. Jacob’s tenacity is rewarded. Eye of the tiger, baby!
God welcomes our struggling with him, when we patiently and boldly holdout for the blessings that only can come from him.
Have you ever realized that God wants you close, even if you are struggling against him? He wants us to know him in that up close way, face-to-face in all our messiness. He seems to route for us, and hope we hang on all the way to the end of the dark night for the blessing.
Have you ever wrestled God?
Maybe you haven’t heard of imaginative prayer. Does it sound “woo-woo”?
Woo-woo to you-you seems like doo-doo?
Well, it’s not, unless you have zero imagination. A time of rich prayer using God’s word can inject vitality into an average or stale prayer life.
Here’s how I do it.
I’ve been using the story of Joseph, Genesis 37-50, to aid in my prayer time. As I carefully read and think about the story, I try to climb into it a bit.
I imagine (a.k.a. put my self in the place of a character/s) what it could be like to be sold by family members and taken hundreds of miles away, or be falsely accused and betrayed by the wife of an employer, and waiting helplessly in jail for 2-13 years. Through it all, never giving up on God and his love for me.
I pray with these images, feeling, thoughts, and various associations that strike my heart. I take them to God.
We (me and my Maker) share together in a close intimacy with this amazing reversal-of-fortunes story. I am inspired by Joseph’s story, because it shows my God as unfailing, redeeming unfortunate circumstances, and guiding the Story to his good ends.
Here’s your project.
1. Follow the Genesis link (above), and spend some time with the story. (You can use an old fashion paper Bible too. haha.)
2. Jot down themes, or ideas that come into view.
3. Ask yourself what this story says about God and his character.
4. Pray with your findings. Take them to God. (Don’t expect flashes of divine prophecy, or simple answers to your problems. Just enjoy and live with the themes and the story for a few…moments, hours (or days, depending on how you set to reading and reflecting on this.)
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading.
May God bless you richly.
Title: ‘Joseph, Overseer of the Pharaoh’s Granaries’
Painter: Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)
Some days you take your faith to the scales. You wonder…is it up to mustard?
Today is one of those days–and it’s epitomized in the not-so-scenic view from my front porch.
Will you pray for me?
What do you need faith for today?
Third Sunday of Advent
Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come
among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver
us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and
the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, world without end.
160 Collect: Traditional
O God, who hast caused this holy night to shine with the
illumination of the true Light: Grant us, we beseech thee,
that as we have known the mystery of that Light upon earth,
so may we also perfectly enjoy him in heaven; where with
thee and the Holy Spirit he liveth and reigneth, one God, in
glory everlasting. Amen.
Do you have any reflections for this Sunday?
Here is a response to a difficult subject: Evil and human suffering. Your comments are valuable here. Thanks for reading.
Dr. Dorsey [professor of Old Testament Studies] says that the story of the prophets (a rather large portion of the canon) looks like this:
(1) God Is Allowing Wickedness…
For a season…. and the wicked to succeed in their opposition to Him to temporarily triumph over Him (and over those loyal to Him). He may allow them to spurn Him, mock Him, humiliate him, or persecute those who remain loyal to Him.
(2) God is redirecting their evil….
to accomplish his own good purposes. The deeds of the wicked play into God’s hands and are used by God to further his own semi-secret agenda. [During this time when evil appears to prevail], God’s children are encouraged to: (a) Trust God, (b) Wait patiently for the time when God will intervene and right all wrongs, (c) Remain loyal and obedient to him.
(3) Finally, God dramatically intervenes…
to defeat his enemies. God is vindicated the wicked are punished; and those loyal to God are rewarded.
Now as my old friend friend Dr. Cunningham from UVA who was a very competent Roman Catholic Theologian on the side used to say:
“…mercy and justice are always in tension. We want mercy for ourselves, and justice for the other…”
Eventually we grow a little wiser and want some mercy for the other as well; however, we can never give up the concept of justice completely. Some decisions are so revolting (like genocide) that they must rigorously opposed, some people are so broken (like serial killers, serial kidnappers, etc) that we invest enormous time and money in the criminal justice system to stop them, they are horribly corrosive to society, they must be stopped.
How do you respond?
Quaker Oatmeal has a new tag. I have to say, I love it. It just excites me. It probably won’t prompt me buy their oatmeal… I’d eighty-six porridge for eggs or coffee cake any day.
Nevertheless, I felt a sense of well-being just watching the Quaker Oats commercial. A rugged construction man, sits back, high upon a skyscraper girder. From a thermos, he peacefully enjoys his heavily textured cooked oats . The voiceover asks, Does your breakfast make you amazing? (The build up to that was the scripted: “Rome wasn’t built in a day; and it wasn’t built on a coffee and a danish.”) Well, I think Rome was built on mead, or sambuca, but whatever.
In keeping with pop Evangelicalism, I’ll do the obvious. I’ll do the proverbial. I’ll take this inspiring tag line, and do a Christian parallel. (Isn’t it some sort of moral duty to take catch phrases, or witty wording, pilfer it, and spiritualised the thing ad nuaseam, in the name of edification, of course? I think the Biblical backing for this comes from II Leviticus 2:1, “Thou shalt copy they neighbors clever word-smithage. I am the LORD.”
Is it an epidemic religious and cultural kleptomania? Um. Yep.
And, right now, me fingerz feelz sticky, too.
So, here we go: “Does your God make you Amazing?”
Of course, this is a wildly self-centered question. I don’t even want Christians to “go there.” This is a preemptive, cut-Christian copy cats off at the pass, post. It’s meant to subvert a horrible Christian propensity, or worse, an ill-advised “evangelizing tactic”
I’m making an executive decision. I’m going to hijack the hijacking of, at least, this tagline.
Are you surprised?
A basic truth: We like to be inspired to be amazing. Oh. Yes. We. Do.
We either think we’re pretty amazing already, or wish we were.
So, what about that?
AND–What breakfast, or attribute of God (or both) propels you towards “AMAZING”?
I’ve known Jon Acuff for few years now. We
have had the same agent. And he even gave me an invitation to write on his blog. (Here’s the post). See, I was a fan of Stuff Christians Like long before Jon wrote his first book, called, well, not surprisingly: Stuff Christian Like. (Now, he has a HQ website for all things Acuff.) And I was reading his funnies, even long before he was selling ads to….what?! NBC… my goodness. And let’s not forget all those fox and CNN appearances. Before those. Oh! and even way back (sort of ) when he was using his …um…decoy name, or something, “Jon Christopher”… seemingly to throw weaker fans, or readers, off his scent (to no avail, of course!). Anyone remember that?
So, I can’t rival Jon’s awesomeness, or his blog of epic fame and legend. (Jon gets more comments to his blog post in two minutes than I get in visitors all week.) However, I enjoy the ironical, and so might you.
7 Reasons Why my Blog will make you cry LESS than Jon Acuff’s (humor) blog
1. Unlike Jon, I only rarely talk about orphans. Heck, for ages, “an orphan” was a thing that happens in typography, where a word unsuspecting word is just left by its lonesome at the end of a paragraph. Poor thing. Bad, graphic designer. Bad!
Right now, I’m tearing up just thinking about a person (specifically Jon) writing about orphans (the human kind). So, there you go. You need more proof, then click to read his orphan article here. Orphans break out the water works like nothing else can. The only thing worse for your tissue stockpile is an orphan with cancer. That cute bald head. The sweet bloated little belly. Horrible stuff. I’m changing the subject. ugh.
2. Jon can make plenty of us cry, sometimes by just being a tad more serious, on Serious Wednesdays. That’s skill folks. I’ll never do that to you. It just not in me. (I mean I don’t haz the skillz) For future notice, I happen to be sillier on Wednesday than Jon is, thereby making my ability to incite tears pale by comparison. So, in case you’re keeping track, that would be proof # 2.
3. Jon writes touching things about his kids, that are profound and can make your eyes as moist and irritated as rubbing a hot chili pepper on your iris. Go ahead get a chili pepper and see for yourself.
4. Jon raises money for orphans. So, you know, it’s not talk. It’s action. And needless to say, it’s frickin’ orphans, dude. If that’s not so sweet to be tear jerking, than you must be the Tin Man–pre-Emerald City–my friend.
5. When Jon cries, we cry. More proof here. Don’t miss the comments section. About 400 people admit to crying. I’m not joking. It’s Unbelievable. See, I never cried in an airport except when I’ve been with a TSA worker. You just won’t find a story like that here.
6. Jon loves his wife, and it shows. Witness this. Honestly, where the heck are my tissues, the ones with aloe? (I don’t know if people even know if I’m married-which I am. There I said it. Gosh.)
7. Jon is generous. He’s always helping out struggling writers, ahem, and plenty of other people. Plenty. It’s almost too good to be true. (I have NEVER given huge bundles of hard cash at a bookstore, or iPads, or iPod shuffles, or really any Apple products at all. I’m so lame, but unfortunately not lame enough to stir your tears of pity.)
Have I made my case?
If you are a blogger that offers fewer crying opportunities than Jon does, and you’d like some more blog traffic, share your blog link in the comments section, and we’ll stop by.
Book of Common Prayer
A Litany of Thanksgiving
Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so
freely bestowed upon us.
For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and
sky and sea.
We thank you, Lord.
For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women,
revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.
For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and
We thank you, Lord.
For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.
For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,
We thank you, Lord.
For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering
and faithful in adversity,
We thank you, Lord.
For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,
We thank you, Lord.
For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.
Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and
promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;
To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the
Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
See also The General Thanksgiving on pages 58 and 101.
From the Book of Common Prayer online: here.
I invited Shane to post here, chiefly because I feel a kinship to Shane. The artist and the spiritual formation learner I am jives so nicely with Shane’s outlook, and what he does as his life’s work. Writers, artist, thinkers, creatives, musicians, and so forth bring vital perspective to Christian Spirituality, and walking with God. Shane tends to this group, which is not an easy task.
Who is SHANE TUCKER?
Shane lived in Ireland for eleven years with his wife, two daughters and son. Now, he serves as Creative Director for ‘Dreamers of the Day‘ [www.dreamtoday.org] – a network utilizing the arts, spiritual disciplines, evocative messengers, and symposiums to engage people in their journey with Christ. He is passionate about seeing people live into their purpose in life, and he finds applications for that as a ‘soul friend’ (spiritual director) via Soul Friend (www.ArtistSoulFriend.com). He can be reached via either website or at shane dot tucker at gmail dot com.
Please enjoy Shane’s post, and feel free to offer your insights, comments, or questions.
by Shane Tucker
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
We have an innate quality to notice beauty at every turn. To know that something is ugly or unattractive we must, of course, know that true beauty exists . . and in some way, to have experienced it. We resonate most strongly with that which seems to offer wholeness or a sense of completeness to our lives. That resonance may also be experienced as a deep hunger. Seldom do we know ourselves well enough to be able to express those yearnings in a coherent fashion. Itʼs in those times we need a bridge – something enabling us to connect, to integrate disparate elements into a whole. . . into a sense of being whole.
Art – any method or medium of creativity – can often serve as this necessary bridge, this connection, between what we know and what we long or yearn to know. Art gives us the tools, the words, the motion to live into what we sense is already there, but as of yet remains unseen. In this sense, art itself is a means by which we find ourselves by moving beyond ourselves. Through art (the highest sort) we are transported into places and spaces where we can lose ourselves. Itʼs a gift to be fully present to, and fully absorbed into, a situation or individual where weʼve forgotten to be concerned with our own desires or even aware of our image before others. Iʼve had a few experiences like this directly and by extension.
One of those experiences occurred three summers ago while I was attending a festival of creativity in middle England. I sought out a band I wanted to become acquainted with and unexpectedly, during their set I was in continual awe. Through their skillful use of music and visual elements, I was caught up in the moment and I forgot myself. Classic. Iʼve had similar experiences standing on green, broad, bald hilltops around Ireland as I drank in the arresting landscape around me. Another example are Christmas mornings since my three children arrived on the scene. Experiencing the uninhibited enthusiasm and joy demonstrated by these little people as they open gifts and share their excitement with the family – these are moments of pure bliss.
In times such as these we are given the gift of losing ourselves . . more specifically, concern for ourselves. The end, however, is not the experience of forgetting oneself in beauty, wonder, and awe; or even that of knowing a deep resonance which affords us the equivalent of tonal tonic through lifeʼs journey. Itʼs knowing Him. I hear, see, touch, taste and feel the Creator in this God-saturated existence called life. Heʼs made Himself ever- present in the created order and ever-accessible. He has, in fact, painted Himself into the portrait, written Himself into the narrative and sung Himself into our lives – even into existence, in Jesus Christ. When we recognize His overtures of love, our moment is to respond whole-heartedly, in trust, recklessly abandoned. In His hands, we then become the artwork by which He invites others to lose and find themselves in Love.
“Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them.” – Jesus, Matthew 16:25
Thank you, Shane.
Harvest Dance and Veterans Day MASHUP
Happy Veterans Day. To those serving and who have served, I thank you. You have my loyalty, because we have had yours. What you have sacrificed means so much.
This was me and my date, in high school, at a dance (that was -obviously- held on Veterans Day). I was really patriotic (perhaps in a bad way) in the 1980s, and I’ve since been put on medication.
Ya like, it?
Handy little business model, especially when folks hope to avoid damnation, right?
This became rather upsetting. So these Reformer types started protesting. It was not so much to split from the Church, but to transform it–at first.
Of course, men can get pretty riled up about their new fantastic ideas (ever seen that?), and before anyone realized it, a huge split…others might say a heresy or rebellion… was cemented into place in history–forever changing the landscape of Christianity.
Spiritually speaking, some good was gained (and Catholics adjusted to these grievances by the 1960s with Vatican II), but as more and more people are beginning to realizing now, some very good and important things were lost because of going this route.
So, what is the real purpose of a priest, or priest-like figure? Is it necessary? Can absolution of sin come from a man in a white collar? What about a teenager in a crew neck? Or a lady with a scarf?
Drum roll, please…..
Oh! Wait! Before, you start gathering firewood and a sturdy stake for my conflagration, please hear me out the entire way. (Then have at it; I’d like to hear from you.)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
What is James saying…that confession and other believers’ prayers are powerful and effective against sin? Yes.
Okay, not a total gasp. But how does this play out? You may wonder…
This confessing to each other is not the same as be able to actually take Jesus’ place (obviously). James shows us that confession to each other works. It does something important. God wants it to be done this way.
It absolves us (because God absolves us). So, it is true that we personally experience the relief of our guilt being removed. We experience, in real terms, the agency of God’s forgiveness of our guilt. Someone is there beside us, standing in the gap for us, so we can be reconciled more thoroughly, more completely than we can experience it otherwise. It is God’s work; and we are agents of his ministry.
These confessors to whom we confess become a flesh and blood representation of God’s love that promotes gracious forgiveness and offers wholeness. It offers us freedom from guilt (felt guilt, and feeling or thinking as if Christ‘s work is not complete). It puts flesh on our spiritual justification.
It seems we can’t handle our sin on our own too well, at all.
We are sinful, and it’s not a private matter.
Just confessing to God, and keeping our mistakes and sin to ourselves, is not the recommendation and requirement of Christ’s disciples.
The Community of God (i.e. the Church; our brothers and sisters in the Lord) plays a vital role in our spiritual growth and growth in grace. Confession ushers in that felt healing of the sin and guilt which weigh us down, and disables us.
Our sin is a rejection of community (aka The Bride of Christ) and an act of selfishness.
Our sin is a destructive thing. Socially and spiritually destructive.
Confession and absolution, (the kind you might say/declare out loud to another person) restore us at a core level. To ourselves, to God, and to community (aka The Bride of Christ).
In this way, we act not as God, but on God’s behalf. We minister.
It is simply true that he forgives us. We concur and offer social restoration, and remind the confessing one of God’s gracious work and love for us.
We minister to each other, on equal footing, and we may offer God’s grace to a brother or sister who cannot yet properly apprehend it. We can accept their confession and offer forgiveness, so we speak the Truth of God’s Kingdom into their life. We help set the captives free. (Not because God can’t do it without us, but because he wishes to use us this way.)
YES. We may say, “You have confessed, and you are forgiven. God absolves you. I, too, forgive you. Go in peace, and rest in his love.”
Please offer this to others. Ask for it on your behalf, too.
Will you comment on this topic, please? Your input is vital on this one. Thank you.
Ed Cyzewski invited me to carrying on with his 5 minute Retreat series this week. Today is day 4 of 5. I hope you find this brief exercise a way to create a bit of time and space in your day to refocus and reenergize. May God bless you.
This retreat would be best to do if you have a stone or brick handy. If it’s not easy to search for one outside, find something else, that feels weighty in your hand, like a paper weight, book, full water bottle, etc. Yes, I realize that sounds weird. Indulge me for a few minutes, k?
Before we start, please take a few steps to
prepare yourself to take a short rejuvenating break to refreshen your day and your spirit. Together we will gain new perspective. So, please eliminate potential distractions nearby. (Silence your phone, computer, shut your door, etc.)
Here we go!
Hold your stone or object in your hand.
Close your eyes and take a few deep, slow breaths. (Be aware of where you are. “Be where you are.” That is, push the chatter of your mind aside, purposefully, for this short and set amount of time.)
Now as you gain awareness of yourself in the spot where you are, be very aware of the weight of the object in your hand. Concentrate on that sensation for a bit. With your eyes closed, notice its bulk, size, “weightiness”, and stay with that for about 60 seconds. (That will feel like a LONG time. But, please do hang in there, friends!)
Now think of the things weighing you down in your day this week. Everybody has something. Do you have conflict in a relationship, too much to do, deadlines, struggles, car trouble, illness, loneliness, frustration? What is bothering you RIGHT NOW?
Think about how those things in your life really do feel like a weight resting on top of you. They are pushing you down. They feel heavy.
Now, feel the weight of the stone or object in your hand, and make the conscious association, of what weights you down with this weighted symbol of it that you are holding.
Feel their weight, and recognize that you want to be free of it. You want new strength and relief. You want to claim that release.
Talk to God briefly about your particular struggle/s, all while clutching your stone or object.
If you can say this next bit out loud, I recommend it. If that will be too awkward because of your surroundings, try to repeat this a few times in your mind:
God, I am laying my weight down. Take it from me. I willingly lay it down for you to pick up.
(Repeating this for your ownership of this act will help you a lot.)
Now set down your weight. Release it. Lay it down, with purpose. (If you are outside, you may want to throw it down, or put it in a trash can. Or, maybe that’s just me. OH! And watch out for glass. It can sneak up on you, just as you let your stone fly.)
NOW–Feel the weight lift. It’s GONE.
Now walk away.
And thank God.
Thanks for coming along today, and daring to experience life a bit differently. I hope this is helpful to you in a special way. I’d love to hear about your experience, if you’d like to share it here.
Thank you for coming here. Ed Cyzewski invited me to carrying on with his 5 minute Retreat series, “with my own spin”. This is day 2.
Let’s enjoy a time and space set aside for refreshment. (Please feel free to comment anytime. Sharing your experience is valuable for all of us.)
prepare yourself to take a short rejuvenating break, by eliminating potential distractions. (Silence your phone, computer, shut your door, etc.)
Now, fold your hands. That’s right interlace your fingers as you clasp them together.
As you look at your hands, either your left or your right thumb will be on top. Many people hold their left thumb on the top. Which is it for you? (you can let us know in the comment section)
Now, re-clasp your fingers and thumbs so the opposite thumb is on the top.
It will feel unfamiliar, and perhaps “wrong” or slightly uncomfortable. (You can describe what it feels like to you in the comment section)
With your hands this unfamiliar way, take 3-5 deep inhales and exhales, slowly.
Think about the habits and routines in your life that you never really notice. Like… Tying your right shoe first, or sliding into your driver’s seat a certain way, preparing your coffee, brushing you teeth, or something more important, like checking your email first thing in the morning, or interacting with your kids.
Could this be a day where you can be extra aware of your daily habits? Today, could you survey all you do, and see if you want to change some things up?
Unfold your hands and fold them the uncomfortable way–again.
Pray about what make of the details in your life, that keep you from growing, or that keep you where you are, and not where you should be.
Do you need to forgive someone? Ask God to help you. Rely on his strength to forgive that person, through you, (with his strength) even if their are no warm feelings toward them, yet, or maybe ever.
Unforgiving habits are ruts we should overcome.
Try to fold and unfold your hands several times today to remind you of the habits you are in, and the ones that should change.
Stretch out your hands, arms, and body, and let out a big breath.
Take on the day!
Thanks for sharing this with me. May you be blessed.
Ed Cyzewski invited me to carrying on with his 5 minute Retreat series, “with my own spin”. So, for the next 5 days, I invite you to come here for a short and refreshing retreat in your day.
Let’s work through this and apprehend how God is with us. (Please feel free to comment anytime. Sharing your experience is valuable for all of us.) Blessings to you.
First, please be prepared to take a short rejuvenating break, and eliminate potential distractions. (Silence your phone, computer, shut your door, etc.)
Start off with five deep inhales and exhales.
– Be increasingly aware of yourself occupying a space, where you are. Feel the weight in your chest as you breathe, and let your air out slowly and calmly.
Cover your ears and breathe in and out five more times, listening to the sound of your breath.
Now-Be aware of God giving you life–the Breath of Life. His Spirit.
Spend a bit of time chewing on that theme.
–Allow yourself to make associations, dwell on an image or phrase about this topic which comes to mind, and how it relates to your life, today.
(If you get distracted, or your mind starts to wander, cover your ears again, and listen to your breathing.)
In this way-you try to “get out of your head” (a.k.a. to stop or dull, the chatter in your mind, and set your inner monologue aside.) Remember you are a spiritual being having a physical existence and tangible experience, right now in this moment. You live, you eat, you sleep, you think, and you breathe. Right now, you are here, breathing and living. Stay with that.
Briefly, talk to God (in some way) about your gift of life and Living breath. (Or, the associations, phrases, or images that have been on your mind.)
Now, realize you have God, with you, at hand (not far away), and you may keep this awareness to be revitalized and strengthened in your day.
One more deep breath, and stretch your arms, or whole body, a bit. Find relaxation in these few calm moments.
Here you are. You are yourself. Enjoy that.
And Enjoy your day.
- Oswald Chambers meditation:
. . . when Moses was grown . . . he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens —Exodus 2:11
Have you thought about discouragement in this way?
Your thoughts or comments are encouraged.
Our freedom allows us to make choices that determine our purity and our innocence. So, freedom always includes responsibility, and purity can be regained. It is innocence that is untried.
In the cases were guilt may plague us, we may seek healing in the spiritual discipline of life confession, and then find it our acceptance of love and forgiveness. This happens best in Community, with the support of siblings in Christ.
This is also an act of worship.
Please share you thoughts on this, or a related theme.
Or you may tackle one of the following. Thanks.
• What have been your influencers with regards to purity?
• How has the media impacted your view of purity?
• What is the biggest struggle regarding your faith and your purity?
Resource used: Pages 126-8. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Adele Ahlberg Calhoun -IVP Books ©2005)
For further reading: “Real Sex” -Lauren Winner
I just loved this photo by Marek Paluch (found on MSNBC).
It’s likely this critter is NUTS.
(The hit show GLEE is a drama-comedy that breaks out into a musical number and choreography several times per episode. In other words, it’s basically just like real life.)
All the world is a stage?
Only if people find you annoyingly dramatic.
Or, fantastically entertaining.
Or, small and furry…
It’s important to have our “break out” moments, our passionate interaction with the universe, and have a certain kind of flourish that gives us an awareness of being fully alive.
What was your last “Glee moment”?
To be fair, if you’ve never seen a golden-mantled ground squirrel (a.k.a. “chipmunk” by people who get confused?) with a switchblade, you really should tweet this.
1. The squirrel fights in your yard look choreographed.
2. You start going to the store for just odd things, like tapioca or beef jerky.
3. You wonder if time in a prison cell could have its upsides.
4. The garden hose has become your version of a “water park”.
5. You use a beach towel after a shower to add more adventure and pizzazz to your life.
oops forgot one: You realize “pizzazz” has the word “pizza” in it, and that causes a food fantasy for Boardwalk fare.
Let the wild rumpus start!
What tells YOU that you need a vacation?
I have to do a post about this, esp since it’s fresh in my mind. This morning I had really vibrant lucid dreams. That is, I woke up within the dream, and could control the things I did/decided, and I could consciously control some of the dream’s outcome.
I used to have insomnia as a tween (pre-teen, ages 9-12) and teen. Now, I have trained my mind to fall asleep in usually under 2 minutes. (Much to the astonishment of my spouse, and friends who happen to see it take place.) I usually remember 3-7 dreams per night. I dont’ bother with a dream journal much, because I don’t have several hours to take it all down when I wake up.
If I can’t fall asleep in 5 minutes or less, I tend to be awake for a while. So, I’ve developed some skills to fall asleep. The one I use the most, and the most effectively is counted down from 100. I concentrate on the numbers (number shape and order themselves), and allow my breathing to grow slow and deep. Often I beginning dreaming immediately as I drift off into unconsciousness.
A person can develop this sort of (lucid) dreaming as a skill, much like training yourself to remember dreams. Here are some tips to start remembering your dreams. I also got some quite handy tips on how to wake up a bit better within my dreams from Tim Ferriss, who has researched it a bit.
For me personally, I’ve always had a vivid imagination, been highly creative, and highly stimulated visually. I had always thought everyone had the chance to dream this way. Since I was a little girl I’ve had fantastic lucid dreams, and I would pick *flying* when I would wake in my dreams. This just seemed like the most fun and exhilarating choice, and crashing didn’t happen too often either. (It’s more like bouncing usually.)
Can you wake up during your dreams?
Interesting- Quick facts about lucid dreams here.
I couldn’t swim until I was 11 years old, and even then, it was a pretty panicky endeavor.
Today I taught both of my kids (ages 7.5 and 10) how to swim in about 3 hours.
Both were super afraid of being in the deep section when we started. Because they trusted me; it worked. I gave them pushes to the side, and skill tips, and once the fear was nearly gone, they could do it.
Much has to do with trusting that one is fairly buoyant in the water. Thrashing is not helpful, tense muscles tend to sink. For my son, who was quite scared, I told swim, “swim gently.” Something clicked. He saw/experienced that when taking his time, he could maneuver and stay afloat. The terror of sinking like a rock eased away. He probably jumped in the deep end to swim about 150 times after that.
For my daughter, distracting her with techniques, like a flutter kick and slicing arms through the water, distracted her from her over-thinking. The paralyzing fright of trying something new and “dangerous” settled out, and made way for real progress. I would hold her under her belly, to qualm her fears, and then I’d take her into deeper water so she wouldn’t stunt her learning by cutting it short: standing up each time she wasn’t sure of things, or when she felt scared–which, at the start, was about every 4 seconds. Once she saw how far she could go, by obeying my instructions, she realized she was ALREADY swimming. Then the fear (well, more the 50% of it) subsided. She got far more comfortable in the water.
It’s like that in life too, isn’t it. Much of what we think is beyond us, or too scary is part of how we’ve let our fears and false notions get in the way. We all must learn to float and not fight as God teaches us how to manage deeper water. Otherwise we are trapped in the kiddie pool.
How old were you when you learned to swim? Or do you have Aquaphobia a.k.a fear of water?
In what ways, to you, is the art and skill of swimming related to growth, or your own personal journey?
Any other thoughts?
I’m looking for a pop up camper… keep your eyes peeled.
Spirituality/theology AND humor ≠ peanut butter and jelly?
Peas and carrots?
or More like jelly and mayo?
Or hair and cheesesteak?
Are people who study God (theologians) humorous as much as they are serious?
In my case, yes.
But does that gel? I’m talking like jell-o giggler, gel? Really nicely, with fun and good flavor, and joint protection.
Okay, I’m not paid to teach theology, not yet anyway, so I’m not a pro. Several hundred hours of study should count for something though.
But, I’ve noticed something: If someone tends to take their studies seriously, and their profession seriously, sometimes they lose their sense of humor. It’s not that they can’t be witty on occasion. But I’ve noticed the “humor” can be more sarcastic than uproarious. Theology can be rather dry… but not as in dry humor.
It’s beginning to bother me some, because of the sense that one “has to” pick one way or the other.
• Either you get your respect and admiration seriously honing your forte and thoughts of God, or you pick some sort of madcap way and get sort of dismissed as a lightweight.
Well, rubbish to that.
It shouldn’t be so.
It is a genius blend to be genuinely comical and also thoroughly studied on the important matters of living in this world with a firm consideration of the Divine as the center of it.
It might look like I’m putting it in my mouth, but I have to put my foot in both camps.
So, I’m putting my readers on notice. (Don’t think: Wittenberg Door “notice”. Think: dry erase board.) As anyone knows, straddling can lead to a good hard thwack in the center. I realize this is RISKY. Those of you that know me personally realize this co-mingled vantage point is from where I operate. Some of you may just…not “get it”.
Stay with me here.
I’m not sure where we got the idea that spirituality must be flaky or humorless. Sobriety is one thing, but cheerless? Parish the thought.
If you are new here, welcome. I invite you to what is an engaging game of Twister®, if you will. Here I will not kowtow to stern conventions of how we must study and know God, and our selves, as spiritual creatures. And no, I’m not a witch. Don’t be so stocked, or “freaked” in any way. (Plus, I weigh more than a duck…)
Isn’t God young? It is us who have gotten old and crotchety. Severe or joyless. Being truly alive doesn’t look much like that.
What do you think…?
Have you lost your sense of humor?
Do you find it doesn’t mesh with diligently following God or knowing him well?
Are worship/awe and fun mutually exclusive within spirituality?
Any thing you’d like to say on the matter?
Let’s hear it –