Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
-Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 CE
This quote is a lovely reflection of the pursuing God, the God that brings peace and wholeness. And in tasting that wholeness and love we long to be ever-filled by such goodness
What touched you about it?
image from here: truthworks.org
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.)
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Want to read the other Discernment installments?
• Discernment Series (first post)
This is the 2nd week of the Discernment Series.
This time it’ll be good to know about the terms Consolation and Desolation as described by Ignatius of Loyola in his work Spiritual Exercises.
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.)
Once a week for the next 2 months I will be covering the topic of discernment. We’ll learn how to discern much better!
I can hardly think of a theme that comes up more often than “trying to find our way”.
Especially for those of us who create or try to be intentional and grow.
Some think of discernment as “finding God’s will”, some as “knowing with path to take at a fork in the road”, some as “discovering or actualizing one’s calling”, and some think of it as learning to be better and more consistently attuned to God’s voice.
Many don’t realize that about 500 years ago a very keen and practical guide to discernment was created to teach Christians and Christian leaders how to discern the voice of God. Through the practice of these Spiritual Exercises (Ignatius of Loyola), we can be guided with far less angst and far greater freedom and peace as we choose our way and listen for God’s voice.
Millions of believers have undertaken learning and applying these sage writings on the topic, and consequently have better allowed the Holy Spirit to guide their life. Others find great solace in participating in Ignatian retreats. The spirituality influenced by Ignatian involves “find God in all things” and “laboring with God in the divine project of healing the world”. Prayer and action are combined as the spiritual muscles of experiencing God’s abundant love and hearing his voice develop.
Since basic theology tells us that God is everywhere present. (Of course, whether we actually live this out as we believe it is antoher matter.)
Like King David tells us of God in his poetry, there is no place God is not. Psalm 139.
7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave,a you are there.
The study and exercise of Ignatian principles to improve the abilities of discernment involve the intellect, emotion, memory, and will.
I’ll be sharing those ways and methods here regularly to help you become categorically better at discernment.
What is the first exercise in learning discernment?
Preparing the “soil of one’s heart”.
Imagine that you’ve never run more than a few blocks in your entire lifetime. And maybe when you did it was just to avoid getting bitten by a dog or to catch the ice cream truck. How easy would it be to get up out of bed one early Saturday morning and complete a marathon without ever training your body? (What is it 26 point something miles? UGH.)
OUCH. . .would be the key word. Oh, and failure.
Beneficial and godly discernment requires that your heart and mind do some prep work too. Some inventory and reflection is needed. Some opening of our will to God. Some asking God to make you ready to hear his voice, change and work on your heart and mind, and improve your hearing (mainly, but not just the spiritual kind).
Start with these few questions:
Focus in on the area that requires discernment then ask,
1. What have I done in the past?
2. What am I doing now?
3. What ought I to do in the future OR What do I hope for the future?
Try to be as specific as possible with your answers. Write them down, pray about them, and revisit them later.
This is no easy sledding and it helps to have a companion along the way.
More on discernment next week!
For more information about help with discernment in your life click here.
If you don’t want to miss a post click here to to get the next ones sent by Email.
Do you know anyone who’s struggling right now or at a crossroads? Would you please tell them about this Series?
Will you pray for me? I’m learning discernment too.
And please don’t leave without sharing something that I can pray about for you.
December is the month of expectation. It’s ‘full of promise,” right?
And expectation seems to be defined by its connection to promise.
When you are old enough to not want to baubles and tripe on 25th of the 12th month, you want what is just out of reach and can’t be found at a store. Oh, that it could. Life would be magic and simple. But, no.
You want other things…sustained contentment, family harmony, a faith that banishes worry–once and for all. Other things.
You want to scream out, “God, promise me!” When it seems he’s not really tuning in, you try to yell it to the universe. Evidently, it appears that Twitter is a good stand in.
And sometimes, you get a to a certain point where you realize that you have to make and keep some promises. To yourself, to others, to the universe. And the universe starts to seem personal again. Like God. And you wonder if you’ve failed. Well, you know you have, but you wonder what the consequences will be.
Peace and solace don’t take up residence in Christmas and Christmastime. It starts within. That’s the problem really. We keep looking in other places, avoiding that nasty work. We keep thinking it’s our circumstances or someone else’s fault. We keep waiting. Anticipating. Expecting.
We are what makes this promise kept. We are really saying “Promise Me,” to ourselves.
But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!
I love this post by Ray Hollenbach. That it all for today.
Today’s question is “What Quiets YOU?”
I was pleased to hear blogging and leadership superstar Michael Hyatt give out some serious props recently for naps and people who take them. I like working late, but my family needs me early. I need my naps. No, I don’t get them regularly. When I don’t something happens. I fall asleep reading. I go right into REM sleep too…as you might imagine.
Except for when I’m exhausted I can only nap when one other thing is in place:
I must feel safe.
If threats loom I am disquieted.
Trust is what quiets down my soul so I can wade through the rest of it, and lay me down to sleep. Trust in God, Trust in myself, and Trust in others.
The hush may come from acceptance, wonder, rest, or satisfaction from a job well done, but it must be found.
Without it we just keep on wandering.
So ask yourself. “What Quiets Me?” How and where am I most settled?
Write down one word to remind yourself, and tape it up somewhere.
It will help you not just remember to find it, but it’ll help you remember who you really are.To get the latest posts to nourish your Creative Soul, sign up here. (You expect posts 3-4 per week, or you can modify deliveries to suit your reading preferences.)
Feel like sharing? What surprising thing calms your soul?
Sarah Bessey writes at Emerging Mummy where she has become an accidental grassroots voice for postmodern and emerging women in the Church on issues from mothering to politics and theology to ecclesiology. Her writing has been well received in many publications including Church Leaders, Relevant Magazine, A Deeper Story, SheLoves Magazine, and Emergent Village. Sarah also works with Mercy Ministries of Canada, a non-profit residential home for women seeking freedom from life-controlling issues. She is a happy-clappy follower of Jesus and social justice wannabe. Sarah lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada with her husband, Brian, and their three tinies: Anne, Joseph and Evelynn
Hey, everyone! Lisa, here.
I’m happy to include a lovely person, champ blogger, and Canadian beauty– the one, the only: Sarah Bessey. I could tell you that I love Sarah and that I love reading her blog, but then you would just think, “Duh? Who doesn’t, Stupid?!”
Yesterday, she had a gracious response to the flap about under-represented female bloggers by posting her own list, which you can check out with her handy dandy button (link):
So, I’ll just use this valuable spot, after the 50 Button and before the letter from Sarah (yes, it’s beachfront property, baby) to encourage you to sign on for RSS or email updates for continued awesomeness. Lots of great writers are my splendid guest contributors ( a.k.a Series #4Bloggers ). My first ebook comes out May 1 “Soul Care for Creators and Communicators”. It’s free (until NOV 2012) if you sign up for it here. (It too is part of the awesomeness. More on that in the coming days and weeks)
And now, enjoy!
- (#1) Sorry to be blunt, but it’s just not your job. It never was.
- (#2) You’re pretty crappy at fixing yourself.
If you were good at fixing yourself, you would’t want to fix other people.
In them (the “un-fixed”) you see yourself.
- (#3) You don’t have that kind of power. It’s inappropriate to think you do.
- (#4) People resent the condescension, so even if you try to be kind in the fixing it’s counterproductive.
- (#5) People are supposed to have some unfixable spots.
I write about “broken jars” here.
What are the alternatives?
- Walk with people
- Be a good influence
- listen more
- love more
- learn more
“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79, NRSV)
May you meditate on the meaning of this scripture, and pray it.
Consider sharing your Advent reflections below.
I snapped this photo of a white board at Evangelical Seminary on Tuesday. I think a Marriage and Family Therapy class was in before I got there.
The word unity can be used for oneness here.
Really absorb the elements of this visual. What do you notice?
It seems the path diverges at choice. Reflection and Confession can be chosen over blame. The result is restoration and forgiveness instead of isolation and brokeness.
It’s a lesson I need. It’s a lesson I have to impart to my kids.
What are Your thoughts?
Given that masculine and feminine are opposite, or counterparts.
Given that a more masculine man is more manly.
Given that a more manly man is movement toward the optimum.
Then, a feminine man is the least optimum.
Then, male is good, and female is bad.
Then, one must reject what is feminine as a disadvantage, and outrightly negative, to move toward the good.
I have a 75% + male readership, and I know most, if not all the males who hear hyper-masculine rhetoric get, at least, a bit nauseated, or frustrated by the vitriol.
“Most [church] dudes are sort of chicks.” -Mark Driscoll (see video)
Please tell me how promoting hyper-masculinity is not also misogyny?
I think this is a situation of a leader being allowed to run amuck with therapeutic misogyny that comes under the guise of Scriptural authority. This is a perversion of leadership.
Is the movement toward masculinizing the church a seductive trap? What about gender is so super important to spreading God’s love and the message of the gospel? How can men be best mentored/discipled?
What should be done?
If you would like to read about this topic from a man’s perspective: both a theologian and former Mixed Martial Artist (a.k.a. “cage fighter”) I recommend this poignant and potent article: THE CONFESSIONS OF A CAGE FIGHTER: MASCULINITY, MISOGYNY, AND THE FEAR OF LOSING CONTROL -by Matt Morin (Matt is a man anyone can respect, but for none of the reasons that Mark Driscoll cherishes.)
Kudos to Matt. I dub you “awesome”.
In the next post, I’ll explore Christian therapeutic, misandry. It’s real, and it doesn’t happen as overtly aggressively as its male counterpart, but it’s just as destructive to the ministry, message, and sacrifice of Christ, our Savior.
So that we may be one in Christ, we must abandon our old, worn out ways that secular culture has blanketed us with. Men and women are not stereotypes. They are not caricatures of the masculine and the feminine, unless those people are spiritually under-developed and unhealthy emotionally. They are instead God’s image bearers, and God’s vehicle to put the world to rights.
What of this Jesus, and his famous donkey ride?
It seems a bit strange, no?
What is called The Triumphal Entry is celebrated each year, on Palm Sunday, a week before the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (most often called Easter, which a a variation of the name of a pagan god, but I digress.)
It’ll take you 45 seconds to read the short donkey ride story here: Matthew 21:1-9.
The crowds heading to Jerusalem for Passover feasting were caught up in the pandemonium of this celebrity sensation–a peasant healer from the boondocks, who had just raised a dead man, four days after he died (his friend Lazarus in the town of Bethany).
Hopes were high that this miracle-worker could liberate the Jews from their Roman oppressors. Some 250,000 lambs would be roasted, likely feeding more than 2 and a half million people during this festival. So, the throng was indeed enormous.
In virtual mob hysteria, hopeful Jews stripped nearby palm trees of their fronds, and threw their coats on the road to pave this unorganized and roisterous parade. A hundred years prior, war hero Simon Maccabaeus was welcomed in the same manner after his conquest over Syria. Now Jews again shouted “Hosanna”, which means “save we pray”. They yelled out the call from Psalm 118:26–a song of deliverance, conquest, and rescue.
Several times previously, Jesus had escaped the momentum of enthralled crowds who hoped to make him their rebel king by sheer force of mob will. Desperation was in the air. They longed for rescue, but Jesus was not that kind of King. He rebuffed all attempts at typical authority, political prestige, religious posturing, or military command. As he put it to Roman authorities, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He came mildly, to be a selected as our king of hearts, and to have victory over our sin and brokenness–reconciling us again to our Creator, a holy and good God.
Fulfilling a prophecy from Zechariah, hundreds of years earlier (Zechariah (9:9)), Jesus rode a plodding little colt of a donkey into the city. The colt was encouraged to continue by keeping its mother in the lead.
For Jews, the donkey was considered a conveyance for the noble classes, and ridden by Jewish priests or nobility. It was also a helpful metaphor to display the Prince of Peace–the true Savior. It drew a sharp contrast against the mood of the raucous Zealots.
This type of entry marked a vast difference from the Roman commanders who would ride in celebratory victory pageants atop their mighty war horses. Wagons full of pillaged gold and silver rode along with the procession through grand Roman archways. Musicians and carriers of fragrant incense would accompany the cavalcade. Captives and conquered enemy honchos were chained and paraded –all for vanity’s sake.
Many Jews hoped for the dream-Messiah of the military persuasion. That was the glory they wishes for.
Jesus was misunderstood in his entry. The mob would show its intrinsic fickleness when, just days later, in bitter disappointment, they would turn on their would-be Messiah, screaming “Crucify him! We have no king but Caesar!” to the local Roman governor, Pilate.
I have a spiritual challenge to give you this weekend. It is to respond in word and deed to this surprising action of God, in human form.
In Christian circles, this season is sometimes called, Holy Week. It has nothing to do with the week itself, but rather it refers to setting aside time to recount the stories and consider this Prince of Peace: his nature; his life and ministry to the needy, poor, and sick; his unjust execution; and the power of his Resurrection to life, witnessed by over 500 people.
Once confronted with this story that changed the world, each must ask, “Who is this Jesus?” and “How must I respond?” Are we willing to give our heart to this lowly yet almighty King, the Prince of Peace?
How will the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah change who you become? It is your saving grace.
Please share your thoughts, or Palm Sunday & Eastertide reflections.
That we cling to your Reality, seen and unseen
That we not overlook the eternal beings in the nooks of our lives.
That we neglect not the joy of our youth and the wisdom accumulated in our years.
Even in the darkness, sing to us, and be our comfort.
When our suffering overwhelms us, help us appreciate your great Love.
In our successes, keep us from growing blind.
Grant us the inner peace from the awe of knowing you are indeed God Almighty.
Take our whole selves into your strong embrace, and smile upon us, Holy God, in your mercy.
In the name of God: Father, Son, and Spirit.
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?
(I’ll be a professorial substitute on Thursday, and I’m really looking forward to it. Below is the prayer from Dr. Laurie Mellinger’s lesson plan for that night. It’s the Benediction Prayer.)
I post it today for your personal reflection. Sometimes we don’t make the time to collect ourselves this way. Here’s a our chance today. Maybe it’s also something you’d like to share with someone else.
Let us receive Your words
and treasure up Your commandments within us;
Make our ears attentive to wisdom
and incline our hearts to understanding;
yes, may we call out for insight
and raise our voices for understanding.
Let us seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
that we may understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For You, Lord, give wisdom;
from Your mouth come knowledge and understanding.
(Share your comments and reflections)
Many people have been interested in reading the short book that inspired this website.
Practicing the Presence of God -Brother Lawrence
To read it here for free click here.
The passage of Scripture I am sharing is featured this week in the NLT version of Tyndale’s new Bible called, Holy Bible: Mosaic. Weekly meditations, placed in the beginning of the publication before the Scriptures, take the reader through the seasons of the Christian calendar year, starting at Advent. This year Advent starts on November 29, and lasts four weeks.
A passage I will call you to reflect on today is written by church father, Paul. In this portion he offers the church in the city of Corinth words of hope concerning the Reality of their situation, despite the troubling circumstances, and internal strife. He clears through the smog of human weakness to reveal the power of God, and the strength and hope that resides in having confidence in the message, promises, and Spirit from God that have already transformed them.
If you are struggling this season, take hope in the God who is everywhere always, who wants the best for you, who will not give up on you, or stop his transforming work in you. Have hope beyond your troubles, and place that hope outside yourself, in One who will be faithful, and carry you through to the end.
(thank you to biblegateway.com for Scripture version: link included)
1 Corinthians 1:4-9
View commentary related to this passage
Paul Gives Thanks to God
I Corinthians 1:4-9
“4 I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. 5 Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. 6 This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. 7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Friend, concentrate please on verses 7-9 especially, and take in the hope offered here. This hope isn’t just for the Christmas season, but for all year long, and all life long.
I invite you-right now-t0 re-read the passage slowly, roll it over in your mind and heart, and then pray to God about it, or some portion or aspect that personally connects with you. Then, please share one or more of your reflections, thoughts, or feelings.
Blessings to you this season.
If you can find NOHING to be thankful for, thank God that these silly birds won’t be coming to your place for a holiday meal. (Notice that the tub is being held over open flames by…um, kitchen stools… (?) yeh, ok…) Why do a suddenly sense an ambulance in the future for these people?
Quite a few of us will be with family for the holidays. This may be wonderful, or well, tough. You can choose your friends, (who can function for you as a “family of choice”) but you can’t choose your family. If you only see your relations a few times a year, (or less) keep some perspective to keep yourself grounded. Firstly, think of sanity as a goal, not a good time. ;)
Plant firmly in your mind that you probably can bear anything for a few days–even prison. Maybe even full blown torture. How bad can water boarding really be? For instance, I’d take it over having to watch Adam Lambert perform, like he did on the AMAs!
If good times happen during your visiting with relatives, count that as a blessing. But, don’t expect a lot from people you don’t often see. Sure, they will bother you, and get on your nerves. They might try to make a spa whirlpool from a tub, a roaring campfire, kitchen stools, and the gas from the beans they had the night before, but you can handle it. Why? Because you’re better than them? Because you’ve had a ton of spiked egg nog? No…well, I think, no.
What will truly help, is to see a bigger picture. Time is on your side. You don’t spend your regular life with them, or in these holiday situations. Hang in there-Be your best self, and know that the holidays are just a temporary gathering time. You don’t always have to be right, or have a dream holiday experience. And you don’t have to let them bother you. Turkey soup doesn’t last all year!
What’s your strangest holiday memory?
In whom we live and move and have our being:
You have made us for yourself,
So that our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
–Augustine of Hippo (Algeria/354-430)
No, Mr. T is not officially endorsing my program, (which is really a focused learning group) but if he knew about it, he might.
If you’re curious, and ready to be a Jedi, click the tab at the top that reads “Jedi Training – Info.”
Only 10 people will be chosen, at a time. We begin in January.
May the Schwartz be with you.
There’s nothing like getting your point across at someone else’s expense. For Christians does it display the Fruit of the Spirit? Um, not so much. Perhaps, it’s just sort of like fruit rotting off the Vine.
Plenty of people might enjoy wearing a shirt like this, but with this sentiment it seems we have another example of how Christians are so often known for, or so often project, what they are against, instead of who they (should) resemble, or claim to adore.
(And that should be Jesus, the Christ.)
It seems a bit jihad…to me.
(Kristin Tennant has her take on the issue here. I think she’s going to make a bundle. ;)
What do you think?
We all have our troubles, and our issues. We all have pain, and problems.
In American, Jesus has often been sold like a product. When there is still struggle, disappointment,and pain, the “Jesus is the Answer,” for some people just feels like a broken promise. Maybe even, a crappy snake oil kind of product. It’s quite a consumerist mentality.
In many parts of the world though, being a follower of Jesus means one pays dearly. Perhaps in health quality, comfort, safety, status, personal/family economics, and in quite a number of cases, with one’s life. Is Jesus still the answer? Well, in the gobal South and East more adults have willingly claimed Jesus as Savior and Lord in the last 35 years, than in ALL the last 1,500 years combined. Christianity is booming like never before worldwide, and greatly outpacing any other belief system. One missiologist suggested, where there is struggle, oppression, and suffering, Jesus shows up.
(note: You may have heard Islam is the fastest growing relegion in the world, but consider that Muslims claim any one living in an Islamic state (at any age from birth on) and those under newly-changed Muslim governmental regimes, or anyone converted by force to Islam are considered Muslims in these tallies. A personal faith, or a conscious and unforced decision to choose one’s faith is not considered a criteria for Islamic adherence in these statistics.)
Simply put, the gospel message, and a person’s receiving of it, doesn’t result in an easier life. Maybe even the opposite is true, but it continues to be the hope and healing many give their lives for. The affluence of America, and other Western countries, has seemed to create an entitlement mentality or expectancy of a time of comfort or ease for the spiritual journeyer. That concept seems to be a cultural construct, more than anything. And it seems a childish one, at that. We are here to help each through life, which can be very difficult indeed. There is something about the struggle that helps us grow, and makes us better than before, by grace.
I won’t kid you. Some people honestly need to be chemically helped with medication to feel well. That is in a different category, in my opinion. A doctor, and probably both a spiritual director and therapist can assist here, for those who cannot see life as anything but gloomy, or can’t get out of bed in the morning.
How does this play out in the real world, and in the blogosphere?
It’s quite interesting. I have stumbled on SO many blogs. So many perspectives. In them, people reveal who they are, and what they really believe in, value, or to whom they sacrifice. They tell who they count as important, whether they put themselves and their comforts in the center of their lives, or if they use their time to inspire. I have been saddened to see so many negative Christian blogs, consumed with bemoaning one thing or another.
They are WILDLY different, and I still get baffled by it sometimes.
I visit one more than the other. One is a professing Christian, and one is not. Since I can’t be in the mind of either author, I must admit, I really can’t know what they experience, much at all. I can’t condemn either one, I don’t want to, and I won’t.
Yet, one insight emerges after witnessing these two perspectives, when I ask myself,
“Who would I rather emulate?”
I ask myself, “How do I want to be in this world?’
I’ll leave general observations and summations to you.
If the exploration reveals anything for you–I’d be quite interested in your responses.
Who has inspired you, as you read various blogs?
Today is Tuesday.
I feel small in the world.
In the little things I do, be with me, near me, and hold me dear.
Let me not forget your faithfulness, your grace, your power, your love.
Show me, my God–or help me glimpse–that your ways,
and your plan, are beyond my sight.
(But, that isn’t so I should worry, but so I can rely on you, and trust.)
If you are not all together good, then good does not exist.
But since I know what good is at all, surely I know you some.
Breathe into me your breath of life, and let me know you more.
When Tuesday seems like a small day, with nothing to offer,
show me that you delight in me,
just because I am yours.
Surely, you are mine.
Sincerely, with love,