I’m writing the last paper for my class in Leadership and Administration. I’m concentrating on Transformational Leadership Theory.
Here’s the crash course for you!
30 years ago Transformational Leadership got some traction and it focused on something nothing else had: Followers.
What motivates and develops Followers created a paradigm shift in Leadership Studies that continues to be researched and written about quite a bit.
(The image shows 5 factors Transformational Leaders employ.)
The 4 Main Components that define Transformational Leadership
The four key components in play:
- Intellectual Stimulation – In Transformational Leadership the leader challenges the status quo, encourages creative solutions, and leads followers toward exploring new ways of doing things while offering new opportunities to learn and grow.
- Individualized Consideration – In Transformational Leadership the leader offers support and encouragement to individual followers that help to foster supportive relationships among the team, and endeavors to help followers keep the lines of communication open to more easily share ideas. There is also recognition of team members’ unique contributions.
- Inspirational Motivation – In Transformational Leadership the leader has a clear vision that is articulated to the followers. With this clearly articulated vision followers may share and experience similar passion and stay better motivated to see the vision through to completion.
- Idealized Influence – A Transformational leader serves as a role model for her followers. She exemplifies the values she hopes to engender. This builds trust and respect for the leader. (This had been called “charisma” but has grown more nuanced.)
 Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations by Bernard M. Bass (1985)
The Book that started it all:
Updated and expanded in 2005
She spoke about the concept of the righteous…the Tsaddiqim <SAD-da-Keem> from Hebrew scripture.
She told of one church in Kansas City that started off with good teaching and preaching about how the Kingdom of God looks when it’s lived out. Then small groups based on VOCATION began. When these groups got together they asked, “How can what we are good at and what we do for a living help others?”
What they came up with was amazing indeed. It was truly…
Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good!
Very inspiring! It could change everything you do in church, or ministry, and it makes a huge difference in communities.
So…What if small groups in your church were based on Vocational bonds and doing the common good? What would you dream up? How would you reach out and make a difference?
Her book highlights cases where vocation has brought great renewal and joy.
I’m reading Leonard Sweet’s book “I am a Follower”.
It turns leadership on its head, which feels a bit ironical to have it as a textbook this 9 weeks in my Master of Arts in Christian Leadership course. But, then again, I didn’t expect to learn leadership ordinarily. We’re working from the ground up here. We aren’t learning to be bosses, we’re learning to be like Jesus, and influence others in the fashion of God’s Kingdom, not man’s (courtesy of the Sermon on the Mount, I might add)
It’s a challenging message for us.
Here are some noteworthy bits I’ve gleaned:
1. Jesus wasn’t looking for leaders…he was looking for followers. Instead of worrying about finding and keeping followers, we follow him.
2. The seduction to apply a secular business model has infected churches but has been a remarkable failure. Spiritual depth doesn’t come from this model. (Willow Creek’s self-assessment is an honest but damning example.)
4. God will prune us, for our own good, so we may be more fruitful and glorify him more.
5. Strategy and planning common in many church models today can superseded the focus on the work of the Holy Spirit.
6. There is a going myth the technology and innovation are answers to our leadership and church problems.
7. God calls us to do something bigger than ourselves.
8. The Church’s obsession with leadership reflects our cultures values which usually center in ego and self-interest.
I will follow up with more from this intriguing and entertaining book. The man does not shy away from plays on word.
(Sign up in the sidebar to get the followup to this post.)
Since I’ve changed my website design I don’t have a quick access point to the ebooks I sell on Amazon.
I thought that few were being sold. Was it worth it? Did what I write matter?
That felt like $1,000 cash in my pocket. I love that he said that! Thanks, Bill.
If you haven’t read the book yet, this is your reminder. It’s a mere $3. Enjoy.
(For a list of 3 other ebooks I’ve done and their ebook links, click the Who’s Lisa page)
I can live for two months on a good compliment.
This is one of the handouts I got at my weekend graduate residency. It’s a spreadsheet summary of the book by Justo Gonzalez. Christian Thought Revisited: Three Types of Theology. Nashville: Abington Press, 1989.
The first one listed won out in most Christian cultures historically: Transactional (TYPE A). We might even take this approach for granted, but there are reasons this flavor of Christianity took hold the most in Western culture. Power is the big reason. The other theologies haven’t been lost completely and are important to recognize. We see a reemergence worldwide of TYPE C (Incarnational), the oldest approach to Christian theology and the one geographically closest to Jerusalem. TYPE B (Transcendent) is most often seen in Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions.
After you read through it, share something.
Here we are again talking about discernment! (weekly January and February)
Getting better at discernment helps us understand God, his ways, and his plans with greater proficiency. A lot of time (most of us) are trying to find our way. Learning some time-tested exercises that foster better discernment can bring more than just peace of mind, but a richer walk of faith.
The presence and movements of God are certainly a grace…pure gift. But, we can also prepare ourselves to do much better with what he graces us with. Initial recognition for starters! We start to awaken.
When practicing the ways of discernment we learn to “read God’s face” as it were. Just like you might know precisely what your friend or spouse is feeling in the 2 seconds time he or she enters your presence, we can learn to distinguish the nuances of God’s presence through familiarity and good listening.
So what of these attacks that happen to us from time to time? The things that discourage us whether from within or without…what do we make of them, and how can they derail us?
Desolations, as we spoke of before, are interior stirrings that are not sourced in God. They may derail us because they are intended to draw us away from God. Yet, they can be used to help us because God will use what he wants to for his aims…even if the original aims from our opposition may have been intended otherwise. We might call these things Weeds that grow among the good things…the Wheat. Weeds may start out looking like nutritious wheat, but as they develop we can note the differences.
We may lose heart that we can’t rid the Weeds all from our lives…and maybe, strange as it seems, some weeds are supposed to stay in place until the harvest. In truth, the Weeds teach us things we could not know otherwise. Here are some:
• Weeds may test our mettle.
• Weeds may awaken us to negligence or unnoticed and crucial interior things that need our attention.
• Weeds may draw a contrast between what is of God and what is not by clarifying the distinction.
• Weeds may aid in our dependence on God, like Paul speaks about in 2 Corinthians 12…the thorn and strength in weakness passage.
Have any weeds of life ever helped you?
(My sources for many of these ideas comes in part from a book my spiritual director lent to me (see below). “Weeds in the Wheat: Discernment: Where Prayer & Action Meet” by Thomas H Green S.J. To be sure this book has a decidedly Catholic perspective (if you can handle that), and sheds light on this view of discerning God’s ways through the Ignatian vantage point.)
Click to get new content by Email…the Series continues!
Want to read the other Discernment installments?
• Discernment Series (first post)
This is the 2nd week of the Discernment Series.
BUT FIRST…some of you who know me know I’m not a Catholic. I’ve been trained at a decidedly Evangelical Seminary, called…not-so-creatively “Evangelical Seminary“. So why am I going on about a 500 year old book from a counter-reformation Catholic?
In short, because your soul will be blessed.
Because the tensions from that time (1491-1556 CE) aren’t here in force now so we can learn some very useful things that align with basic Christian theology. The major hostilities at the time made listening to what God was saying “on the opposing side” quite difficult. (Things were hostile to the point of murder on both sides, no less….how Jesus of them?!ugh.) So, from the point of my tradition, Protestants rejected both grimy bath water and baby.
In general, Catholics rejected what they considered a heretical and a rebellious front to the unquestionable authority of the Church, and didn’t see what was coming from Reformers as helpful or biblical ideas for doing church differently. (It took about 500 years at Vatican II to incorporate many of those needed Reformation era ideas, but a surprising number of them went through and were accepted. Masses conducted in a language understood by the people listening being just one of them. Then, it takes 50 years or so, so I’m told by Catholics, to see them flesh out at the parish (local church) level.)
We’re at a point (I’m generalizing here) where we don’t have to fear reading other streams of Christianity from that time. No one will be tied to a stake and torched, not literally anyway. I think we’re okay accepting that God has much truth to impart from devoted believers with various backgrounds, and this willingness to hear can aid our spiritual growth.
Ignatius was convicted and motivated to “find God in all things”.
I like that about him. This is the way we live incarnational lives. This is how our worldview and our true selves get put right by the love and dominion of our Savior and Creator, and his Son, the enfleshed God, Jesus Christ. While I find some of the ideas, concepts, doctrine, and long-ago language of Ignatius foreign to me, I don’t let it unsettle me. Instead, I let the Holy Spirit speak to my heart and guide me while I read. I pray with the ideas and ask for guidance. I admit I have a lot to learn. I leave some things behind and take in what is transformative and what will make me more like Jesus, the Christ.
Not every but of it will help me or you, but enough will that I bother to write about it and include those outside of my tradition and experience in my blog to open our eyes to some great advice and sage wisdom for understanding how to discern God’s will in transformative ways.
So now for “consolation” and “desolation”
Ignatian teaching has it that these are two terms that help us decipher what is from God, and what is not. At first blush, we may assume that consolation is “happy…yeah God…feelings” and so forth. Desolated might be unhappy ones. But, hang on while we dig a little deeper.
For Ignatius, Consolation is a word to describe interior stirrings that are aroused in the soul that has been inflamed with love for God as Creator and Lord, and too every creature made by the Creator. It’s marked in every increase in faith, hope, love, and interior joy that bring a filling of peace and quiet. A drawing closer to God. A soul in consolation may weep too at the recognition and repentance of sins, and also the relief of the abiding grace of God. A godly grief may be a Consolation, though a difficult patch to get through. Most importantly Consolation is a gift. We don’t arrive there by techniques or things we do. God graces us with consolation.
Desolation is indeed the opposite of consolation, but note how Ignatius writes about it,
“I call desolation what is entirely the opposite (of consolation), as darkness of soul, torment of spirit, inclination to what is low and earthly, restlessness rising from many disturbances and temptations which lead to want of faith, want of hope, want of love. [In desolation] the soul is wholly slothful, tepid, sad, and separated, as it were, from its Creator and Lord.”
Desolation then is all the stuff that stirs our souls and draw us away from God, regardless of the subjective feelings. Some in desolation will not recognize it as that. They will be oblivious. And plenty more will not associate what feelings they have with interior stirrings of the soul. Maybe they’ll blame the government, the economy, circumstances, or other things instead.
So, now that you know which is which, listen and tune in to your interior stirrings. Consolation and Desolation are not mere feelings. They have to do with a conflation of responses and influences that are the movings at the soul level (our core).
Note when you are in consolation. Note when you sense desolation. Get a feel for the movements and workings of God. Begin to distinguish them from the ungodly ones that come from the Enemy or the ungodly parts of yourself.
Next time I’ll talk about the uses and aims of both consolation and desolation in God’s work on us.
(Don’t miss the next installation of the series. Use the sidebar to get the next update.)
“When people deny the humanity of others, they become evil themselves.” -N.T. Wright
We’ll be tackling some tough territory:
• Why is there so much Evil in the world? (More than ever?)
• Why does God let it happen and what, if anything, is God doing really about it? (What’s going on?)
• How does the Bible approach the subject? (Whoa. Lots of common misunderstandings here!)
• How does Justice work? (Revenge, Justice, Mercy, we’ll be sorting that out.)
• What is our role or best response with regards to Evil? (Do we stand against it, roll over, avoid it, bear it? The answers may surprise you.)
If you can’t make the classes Sundays 9:30-10:15 a.m. at Bethesda, I’ll be highlighting items here as I work on it and as I teach.
Here’s an intro video trailer. The book is remarkable. I highly recommend it.
I’ve surfed Niagara Falls.
It was a hyper realistic dream that I could control. I woke up inside my dream and went down that thing about 5 times.
It’s called lucid dreaming.
I’ve been doing it since I was about 7 years old.
Did you know that you can Learn Lucid Dreaming! You’ll love it.
Even someone that can’t usually remember dreaming at all can learn how to remember more dreams (sometimes 3-7 a night). You can learn ways to control aspects of your dreams (great when you have a nightmare or nasty reoccurring dream), and even become conscious and prolong a consciousness while in a true sleeping/dreaming state.
It helps with anxiety, building good relaxation habits, and empowers you in waking life! You can have experiences you could never have, or problem solve in ways you didn’t think were possible. It’s a huge creativity boost too.
You spend 1/3 of your WHOLE LIFE sleeping, why not make the best of it?
I just published a Guide with everything you need to know at Amazon. (Sparky’s Go-to Guide for Dream Control)
You may notice that it’s co-written by Sparky Pronto…that’s another upcoming surprise. I’ll keep you posted with more news soon.
Even better, this Go-to Guide is FREE this Monday, 11.12.2012.
I hope you like it!
One More Thing:
Do you have trouble sleeping, or with nightmares or unsettling reoccurring dreams? Do you want to know what a certain dream might mean? Contact me for guidance. There’s no charge for a consultation, but I can only accommodate 10 requests.
In reply, Mary posted:
Here it is on Pinterest (and check out the very inspirational pins done by launch team readers using quotes from the book).
What a flurry of activity in the last 10 days! The get-the-word-out pre-release giveaway has wrapped up! Thank you for participating!
Tomorrow is the release of Volumes 1-3
[Soul Care for Creators and Communicators Series].
A special thanks to my generous master editor: The fantastic Dr. Doug Jackson. His charity was labor of love. My writer friends in the Bloggers Series were immensely supportive too. (Click here to read their fine contributions.)
This collection reads fast…like tv…and covers the topics:
• “What is the Soul? & What is Soul Care?”
This premise-building volume gets us to track from the same point onward. That fact is you and I need Soul Care, and we need it now. I’ll explain why.
• Identity and Belonging
We deal with core needs. This targets how to find your place in this world and in your calling of creating and message-bearing. Without our bearings we’ll get off-track and discouraged. This important message is one you don’t want to miss.
• The 8 Paths of Learning
• Utilize the paths for your own growth. Progress faster and better.
• Guide others in a well-rounded process of knowledge and development
• Fresh insights and information on the learning paths you already use
• A potent approach to synthesizing and assimilating learning to produce transformation
Written in a way to amuse and designed in a visual format that reads as fast as tv. You won’t get bogged down and it’s all FREE:
Volumes 1-3 come to you for zilch when you sign up here.
(or with the widget in the sidebar)
A subscription also entitles you to a sweet discount on the entire 5 Volume collection arriving on May 10th. More info on that May 8th.
• BONUS CONTENT
Subscribers also receive an appendage volume plus a visual resource chart (titled Volume 3.5) that introduces the 5 Learning Styles of the Soul and explains their nature and practical applications. Some stellar photos come with that too.
My friends with creative minds and hearts yearning to bear good news…Help is on the way! Check back tomorrow for the unveiling.
Here’s a sort video that explains the Series.
(All you Sesame Street fans may enjoy the comedic tribute.)
See you tomorrow!
Today, I’m neglecting my own ebook launch week to feature another author who is also launching his ebook at the same time. Don’t let today’s post confuse you. You can read yesterday’s post for the scoop on what I’m up to; and remember the get-the-word-out giveaway ends at the stroke of midnight tonight Eastern Standard Time.
Jeff sent me a free pre-released draft of “You Are a Writer, So Start Acting Like One”.
Which is more like a mashup of honest observations, reflections, and snippets.
This is a practical advice and how-to book, mixed with some short personal stories, and some material from previous ebook efforts.
Favorite Quote: I love this quote from the foreword concerning red-pen correction marks: “I would cry and brush it off and just accept the fact that I wasn’t a writer, until the day I realized I was one.”
Why I love it: I love this quote because it’s about identity. When you are a Creator or Communicator, you can’t help but be one. It doesn’t matter how full of red pen marks your papers are. Writers write. Creators create. It’s a core need.
That’s Jeff’s story and his book title is something he told himself.
“You Are a Writer, So Start Acting Like One”
This ebook has universal appeal for Creators and Communicators most as a how-I-did-it piece. Jeff reveals the details of what happened when he did as veteran author Steven Pressfield advised concerning “going pro” in his amazing resource: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. This is a vital lesson to learn. Jeff made it work. In this ebook he stresses “…and so can you”.
The parts I didn’t like:
• Perhaps 30% or so of the content is the same information from Jeff’s previous ebooks, which is fine if you haven’t read them, but could be somewhat perturbing if you have. Let the buyer beware.
• I tend to read authors with a greater command of writing craft. His format reads more like a quickly rendered blog post. Some might appreciate the casual style, while others may perhaps surmise hurriedness or inability. It may shrink to personal preference on that part, but an honest appraisal demands I mention it.
One of the best sections is where Jeff unpacks this list:
3 important relationships writers need.
Fans: You need to build meaningful connections with your tribe of followers.
Friends: You need to connect with others who are doing what you are.
Patrons: You need to earn influence with influencers who will support your work.
For whom this book is best:
How’s that for starchy grammar…?
This ebook is best for writers (and other communicators) just starting out who need the some tips and how-tos or need to learn the bones and practical ways to win the attention of editors in order to garner greater readership and establish their platform. It also helps muster one’s courage and gives a good boost to get started and keep going.
Personally: For me (though I’m not just starting out), I liked reading what he did to succeed. I learned that I’m actually doing bunch of things right, and I just need to keep it up to meet with success.
And hey! It’s only $4.99.
Michael Hyatt just wrote a blog post about why he blogs…what he has learned 1,000 posts later.
It got me to thinking that this is a great question to reflect on. For all of us. How long have you blogged? Why did you start? Has that changed over time? What are some things you’ve learned?
I’ll try to tackle that too:
In my pre-blogging days I sent out weekly emails to a list of family and friends called ethoughts (emailed thoughts). They were like little bits of inspiration in article form, and I grew a fervent and modest following.
Then Xanga (one of the first blogging communities) caught my eye, and the birth of blogging began for me. Back then, social media didn’t exist, so getting the word out had its challenges.
By 2006, I went to Blogger because of the flexible style, and I branched several blogs off as I tried to keep my personal thoughts and observations apart from spiritual and ministry style posts. The “emerging Christian conversation” was in its meteoric rise, and I wanted to dialogue and connect with other Christians asking tough questions that pat answers couldn’t solve.
From there I started a website; it also contained all my thoughts articles which numbered in the hundreds. My website didn’t connect seamlessly with the blog. That changed when I went to wordpress, and got my own domain name. It was then I re-grouped things into one area and web presence. Once I harnessed social media to promote posts and interact with other things really took off.
I’m not sure how many posts I’ve done, but writing 1 to 5 times per week since 2005 means I’ve pounded out many many ideas. I’d say thousands. The why of my blogging has changed. Maybe evolved.
It started as a way to share a message. Then, as I wanted to get a book published, it provided a platform for that to build an audience. My first manuscript got me noticed and signed by a well-known agent, but also did the impossible: It died not once but twice in the final round of the “pub board meeting”. I think everyone but the accountants wanted to print it.
When that failed, I had to rethink why I was blogging. I got more creative, and posts got more amusing, as well as covered deep and serious topics. So much has changed in publishing that I’ve wondered if I’d be better off publishing my own ebook. For me, blogging has distracted me from longer writing projects. (…more on that in another post…)
Here are a few things I’ve gleaned from blogging:
• Blogging can focus your talents and passions.
• Blogging can show you your faults and thoughtlessness (making room for growth).
• Blogging can connect you more deeply with others more than you might first assume.
• Blogging well is hard work of persistence.
• Blogging–for good or bad–can often reveal one’s inner life, like it or not.
Stuff I Do:
Now, I do blogging as more of a ministry. But, not a ministry in any traditional sense of the word. By using it as a tool, I try to make it help me be a better person, and encourage the same in others. It’s not just that of course; it’s many others things.
Stuff I Don’t:
I find that I’m not drawn to “Dear Diary” or “My random thoughts” or “rant” type blogs, unless there is an obvious personal (or universal) aspect; or it’s someone so interesting, that I can’t stay away. So, I find that I don’t write in that style on my own blog. I wonder if this will change?
The simplest way to put it is that I am a creative person. I would be creating even if no one was looking. Sometimes I do that with design, art, photography, cooking, but here, I do it mainly with words. They say writers write. I think so.
What style blogs do you steer clear of? What ones are you attracted to? What things have you learned along the way?
If you write a “why I blog” post this month, share the link!
Find out what Jason Boyett is up to next…
To see PART I of the interview click here.
Enjoy PART II of my conversation with Blaine Hogan.
How should we read and study the Bible?
Debates on this will rage, but one thing we often assume that we can simply read the Bible and understand it. Essentially, the Holy Spirit just pops the correct meanings into our brains. Right?
If that were the simple truth, we’d all be, at least mostly, on the same page in Christianity, and we ARE! Um. bzzzz. No…not. at. all.
The Holy Spirit will convict our conscience of sin, and the Holy Spirit help us understand certain things about God’s nature and his grace. Yet, some huge obstacles lie before us concerning the details of Scriptural text.
These details can, and do turn into doctrine or false teaching that fall outside the intent of the text. In clumsy hands, dogmatic presumptions of the Holy Spirit’s opinion have led to all manner of errors, deceptions, injustice. And this study method, if you will, has even started more than a few whacky cults. Yes, and some involve koolaid.
If you forget EVERYTHING about this post, please don’t forget this. When interpreting the meaning of the Bible (a.k.a. engaging in hermeneutics) remember: A scripture passage cannot mean something different than its original intent.
Let that red text sink in. Please…Re-read it.
Seriously. It’s a huge deal once you truly comprehend it, and even bigger when you apply it.
A scripture passage cannot mean something different than its original intent. (That’s a needed re-refresher. Please bear with me.)
Understanding the Bible involves a continual tension between discerning…
Our understanding and the writer’s intent.*
Here are just 5 a mere few of the obstacles that can hinder a proper understanding of scripture:
– Language barriers (Ex. Jesus spoke Aramiac, The New Testament was written in Greek (a dead form of the Greek language now,) and English was taken from the Greek. This book collection HAS TO be divine and God-breathed to still transform individuals, whole communities, and cultures through its message of the Good News!)
– Historical distance barriers (Now is later. Stuff has changed. ‘nuf said.)
– Cultural barriers (We don’t wear the same stuff, and do the same things, at all. period.)
– Circumstantial differences (But one example: Every church has “its stuff” unique to it. Particular concerns and problems.)
– Our lens/perspective, education, and experiences (I hope this is self-explanitory. If not, maybe this blog is too much for you. No worries. Just search this blog for “humor” and forget about this post entirely.)
Quick & Hot Tips for the Good Book
When reading, and attempting to understand a Bible passage,
– include paragraphs and sections, rather than a sentence, a phrase, or a lone sentence. (Nothing can twist scripture more than attempting to find meaning in a small phrase of scripture, instead of taking the complete thought and verbiage into account. You wouldn’t want to be taken out of context, so you know, do the right thing.)
– Read a few translations (Don’t parse words. Just don’t. It’s major mistake! Chances are the translators had to give it their best guess. Plenty of words in ancient Hebrew, and Greek, won’t and can’t translate out of the original language. Translators disagree. A lot. So, don’t assume you have read the perfect word choice. The word may not have been used or known outside of that one, or just a few, times.)
– Consult commentaries (These folks have dedicated their whole life to studying the Bible, the ancient culture, the history, etc. They’ve studied deeper, longer, and harder than you, and probably have some great insights from their research.)
Yes. This post was a “BOOM post”. It may come off sort of… um… strong. I see people all over the place butchering what the Bible says simply because they are naive. They haven’t bothered or known how to read the bible in a way that will get things at least mostly right. They start to sound goofy pretty fast. Next time you hear someone spouting off about a Bible passage, inquire if they’ve done the passage good justice by learning it intelligently in these few ways; then (as nicely as possible) challenge their mode of learning and teaching.
Bible study is a vital spiritual discipline, and like prayer, fasting, giving, and all the rest should be done through being better informed. Learning is a continual process. Keep up with it!
*Some of my information is straight from Stuart and Free’s fantastic book: How to Read the Bible for All its Worth. Many agree that it’s the book par excellence, for understanding and studying the Bible. Give it a whirl.
Did this post help you think of the Bible in a new way?
What has helped you understand what the Bible says?
Loud and sustained sounds used to send me into shutters with shivers up my spine. Once in a while they still do, especially if they resemble a brass instrument. Since I live near a firehouse, my overall sensitivity has decreased. How odd…Why the fright, you may ask?
The 1980s Mark IV series of fundamentalist apocalypse films are to blame.
The titles are as follows:
1. A Thief in the Night
2. A Distant Thunder
3. Image of the Beast
4. Prodigal Planet
Have you seen any of them? $99 will buy you all 4 here. Horrible stuff.
In more recent times, the Christian mega hit book series by Tim LaHaye, and subsequent movie trilogy based on his books Left Behind, claims to portray what the Biblical predicts in the so-called Last Times.
All three movies will cost you just under $20 here. The extra bonus if you grew up in the 1980s, is seeing teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron acting again. (I really thought I’d married him one day. In middle school, I wrote him 2 fan letters and everything. Pffft, his LOSS!)
What many, if not most, of us don’t realize is how recent and uniquely North American this pseudo-theology is. It’s popular just in North Amercia, and hardly heard of nor accepted elsewhere in Christianity, globally, let alone historically. Here is a quick rundown of it. It’s recent doctrinal misappropriation: The Rapture and Second Coming stuff. (Spoiler Alert: It started “coming to life” in the 1700s).
I deeply appreciate NT Wright’s comments called Farewell to the Rapture. It’s a short read.
He shows how Paul’s language colorfully used social, religious, and political metaphors of the particular time. Rapture advocates have wildly attributed his intriguing language to extremely specific and literal occurrences and world events–present and future.
Regarding eschatology, Wright says, “Understanding what will happen [in the future] requires a far more sophisticated cosmology than the one in which “heaven” is somewhere up there in our universe, rather than in a different dimension, a different space-time, altogether.”
The Harold Camping rapture nonsense brings this misunderstanding into glaring and ghastly light. How were his followers helped by his understanding of God? What will they do now that they haven’t raptured? Sad.
Even the attempts to map out the book of Revelation on any sort of timeline are terribly misguided. The book reads like an acid trip. Revelation barely made it into the Biblical canon. Martin Luther, who wanted the Bible in the hands of all Christian laity, said it should be included in the canon, but only if it was never used as teaching material.
How do you view the Book of Revelation?
The prime focus for believers should be the event and meaning of the cross, then and forever. It should be about how this truth of God’s work and grace becomes incarnational reality in our everyday lives. Let it never be degraded to who will get sucked into the sky one day, and when.
Lent is coming. This year the season of Lent begins soon, on March 9 and continues for 46 days until Easter Day. As Karen says, it offers us “an excellent time to clear away the clutter and delve into our faith. This devotional is designed to stretch and encourage you to look at life in a unique way through the eyes of saints that have walked before us. With the assistance of twelve different devotional classics, we can discover God in a new, relational way and grow stronger in our faith.”
I highly encourage you to take time this season to regularly reflect on the themes of Lent, especially in conjunction with a friend, family member, or small group. Make lenten reflection part of your spiritual journey this year. Explore this guidebook, or another devotional guide, that will take you deeper in your walk of faith. And please, keep me updated!
Karen’s devotional is only $7.50!
Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “AWESOME Valentine’s Day gift!” (Or you JUST thought that, in the last 2 seconds.)
BUT-JUST WAIT! As a special treat, this “Freebie February”, the first 25 people who respond in the comment section, will get a promo code for an additional $2 off. WHAT? Only $5.50? Moly Hoses! Yes, folks, that’s how I roll. Happy February, ya’ll!
First, the boxes of candy are King sized. That means it has to be better.
Now, some of you (possibly with a y chromosome) out there will see these articles shown, and have no idea how they could make you a hero of sweetness and charm to a significant other, or a whole lot of fun to hang with for a bit. But really-You’ll be seen in the light of a hero!
Here’s how it works: Find someone to spend time with. Your kid, your friend, your cousin, your spouse, or even an unlikely or unlikable counterpart… but, you get the idea. (Humans only please.) Think of something to do, eat the candy, record your adventure with the camera, and then attach the developed photos in the journal, along with captions or comments about your time together. (Remember to replace the picture shown on the outside-the overly-happy, giggly couple-with a photo of your time.) This book can be a continual archive of dates, trips, and adventures; Or you can give it away to the person, right away. See how wonderful you’ll seem? Yes, one giant ball of awesomeness. You can even say it was your idea. It’s not likely they will believe you, but go ahead. And if the winner of this prize sends some pictures back to me, (before March 31, 2010) a cool, surprise bonus prize will be given. Try to not pee your pants with excitement.
Here’s some ideas for your time out:
A walk. A snowball fight. Bowling. Browsing shops in a new town. Doing a random act or acts of kindness. A Museum. Coffee shop hopping. Wine tour Whine tour. Make a treasure hunt for your friend/date (you know, with clues, etc.) to find the candy, or something else. A game of Paintball. Laser Tag. Horseback riding. Ice Skating. Indoor Rock Climbing. Chess-okay Not Chess! Dinner in, and a movie rental. Parade (St Patty’s Day is coming). A home project. Fight Club (Hey, I don’t know what you’re into, okay?) Breakfast at a diner (Make sure to get pictures of the wait staff.) Build a cake, or something.
SO! Pick one of these choices and elaborate on it, OR make up a good outing or activity out of your own creativity. Or, you can go the other way, and have an awful time, potentially, and record how that goes. You may get a pleasant surprise. Visit a slaughter house, or a AIDS clinic, or a cancer ward. It’s up to you.
Enter your idea in the ’leave a comment’ section, and the one considered the most worthy (in every way) will win. I will sign the journal, if you’d like, with my best wishes. But, I’ll keep my mitts off the candy, I promise.
Good Wishes to you!
Book excerpt from page 129: “[A walk with God]…is an encounter and experience when we become aware of his presence, and this experience reminds us that we are not alone, that “God is with us.” The movement from being alone to be being with God is a life-giving step in soul care.”
This goodie this month is a book give-away available to visitors from now until the end of September. To be eligible, simply leave a comment below stating your interest. One recipient will be picked at random. (Detailed book information below.)
(info from Barnes & Nobles dot com)
We live in a high-maintenance world; cars, homes, computers, and even relationships need continual attention. But what about our souls, the center of our selves where our passions, gifts, and individuality unite? Do we ever consider what it means to care for our souls? In a world where the quick fix and instant gratifications are many people’s most immediate focus, author Steve Smith invites the reader to focus on what truly matters most; the lifelong process of nurturing our souls by focusing on relationships, spiritual and personal growth and healing, and living out God’s purpose for our lives. Step off the hamster wheel of endless activity and purposeless action to find a deeper sense of self and spiritual transformation. Foreword by Dr. Gary Chapman.
Smith, a confessed former workaholic, introduces readers to the unique joy of caring for the soul, which he says “contains the deepest part of who we are.” This founder of the Potter’s Inn Ministry, which helps people experience soul transformation, shares his wealth of knowledge about the soul in 92 brief chapters presented in 13 sections that address issues such as soul identity, soul formation and threats to the soul. Each chapter includes several questions to help readers address their own soul struggles. Smith certainly covers all the bases of the soul, but one wishes for more depth. Staccato chapters whet the appetite for deeper exploration, but Smith moves on quickly to new topics. The book, however, does bring important issues to light. He speaks often of the need for those who believe in God to slow down; he urges readers to use their senses to nurture the soul and highlights the importance of companionship on the soul journey. Studying the soul, he says, “is an incomparable journey to explore the depths and heights of the soul, for we travel the contours of a holy land.” (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The founder of The Potter’s Inn, Stephen W. Smith has been involved in Christian ministry for more than twenty-five years. He and his wife, Gwen, are frequent speakers and retreat leaders who focus on the spiritual growth and transformation of individuals, couples, churches, and organizations.
To update visitors, friends, and fans, old and new…
3 chapters, an overview, and a new author bio is in my agent’s hands, Chip MacGregor. Editors at one place have mentioned their initial interest, and it seems there are other interesting leads as well.
The book is heading on a bit of different path than I first imagined, so I felt the great need to revamp the subhead. The working title for the manuscript now is the following: Life As Prayer: A New Paradigm for Contemporary Spirituality Based on an Un-religious God. It is sure to be eye opening, stumbling block removing, burden lifting, and revealing how enjoyable our Creator is. I will keep you posted, so check in for more info. Also, I greatly enjoy comments to any posts, so feel free to put in your two cents, as long as it’s not spiteful of anyone.
Also- The Holy Bible: Mosaic, Tyndale’s new New Living Translation Bible is coming out in October 2009. I’ve lined up a radio spot on WGRC for the show called, “The Matter at Hand” with Larry Weidman, to speak about this project, and the meditation I wrote for it on the Trinity. This is going to be a really neat layout for the Bible that hasn’t been done yet, with readings, reflections from every century of Christianity, gorgeous artwork, 52 meditations, room to write, and more. Check this one out!
Q: Where did the term “dark night of the soul” come from?
R: The phrase first turned up in the poetry of Spanish Carmelite monk John of the Cross in the 16th Century. He composed many poems while in torment in prison.
Q: “Dark” seems awfully negative, is it?
R: In Spanish the term is closer to the word “obscure”. Though the process may be confusing and painful, “dark” is not implying a negative state. It is a description, especially once one is aware of the progression of growth involved, and knows how the dawn will approach.
Q: Is the “dark night of the soul” the same as depression?
R: No. It’s also not a “spiritual term” for the suffering of someone who needs help for trauma/abuse, medical treatment for illness (mental and otherwise), and/or therapy. Sometimes the two states are seen hand-in-hand, and many times they are not.
Q: Are there different kinds of “dark nights” of the soul?
R: Yes. John of the Cross spoke of a “dark night” involving the senses, and one involving the spirit. One may have numerous dark nights of the senses. (I will go into more detail in future posts.)
Q: What is a good way to recognize a “dark night”.
R: A dark night of the senses may “feel” as though modes of prayer, experiencing the spiritual, or spiritual practices don’t “work” or satisfy. God may “feel” out of reach, distant, unavailable, or gone. It may feel like a dry period, or a time of being in a spiritual dessert. (This is not cause for discouragement or alarm, but for stamina. It is a Divine invitation for growth, and greater spiritual depth beyond what one knows. I will elaborate on what is taking place more in future posts.)
Next time I will post about the “dark night and ‘union with God’,” the process of the “dark night,” any questions/responses that come in from this post, and more. Come back soon.
Information taken from my reading: Gerald G. May, M.D. The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth. Harper San Francisco, 2004.
My (upcoming) book Life as Prayer: A New Paradigm for contemporary Spirituality Inspired by Ancient Piety dedicates a whole chapter to this topic. I will update this blog with details as this work continues. Thanks for your interest. I welcome your thoughts and comments.