March 19, 2016 · 11:30 pm
Twentieth century existential psychologist Rollo May said, “It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.” The more I think about that statement, the closer I get to full agreement with Dr. May. We often think that the faster we work, the quicker we can solve a seemingly unsolvable problem. How many times do we find ourselves lost in our problems and never stop long enough to evaluate our options? In my life I can recall times that I didn’t know where I was or what I was doing there, but I continued to busy my life with frantic activity.
After a very tiring day of ministry, Jesus said to his disciples; “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” He had found himself in a situation where rest was necessary for more ministry to follow. In the same way, we can lose ourselves in good things, works that make a difference, and literally become exhausted and unable to accomplish our goals. In these times we are lost, and hurried activities will not solve our lostness.
We must allow ourselves “breathing space” to think, to rest and to find ourselves. Never have I heard a story of a lost person who found his way by moving faster, but often we find our center as we slow down. If you find yourself feeling lost or overwhelmed, take time to do an inventory. Breathing space can make all the difference in the world.
March 1, 2015 · 12:05 am
It is a difficult
lesson to learn today,
to leave one’s friends
and family and deliberately
practise the art of solitude
for an hour or a day
or a week.
For me, the break
is most difficult …
And yet, once it is done,
I find there is a quality
to being alone that is
Life rushes back into the void,
fuller than before!
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
February 2, 2015 · 12:30 pm
We usually see everything through our own egocentric agenda. Our preoccupation is “How will this inconvenience me.” or “How will this make me feel?” That doesn’t get us very far. We then twist reality so we can feel good.
—-Richard Rohr from Everything Belongs
How often do you twist reality for the sake of your feelings? Such twisting usually involves your need to feel justified or fulfilled in one obligation or another. John the Baptist said: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” The real tricky word in John’s advice is anyone. All of us have someone with whom we are willing to share all that we have. That’s where our agendas come out.
Most of us are taught from a very early age that we are to be responsible and productive. Such teachings and the behavior they produce are very good. The real problem surfaces when we begin to evaluate the worthiness of the recipient of our good will. We don’t want to be inconvenienced or made to feel bad by one of “those” people.
As a result we make excuses and justify our behavior, usually with a spiritual agenda. Something like Proverbs 12:11, “Those who work their land will have plenty to eat, but those who engage in empty pursuits have no sense.” How easy it is to turn your back on the poor ,when you can say the Bible tells us that they have no sense. That verse and so many others come from a larger context of spiritual knowledge that can feed our souls with abundant wisdom. When taken alone, however, they feed our egocentric behavior and act as excuses to neglect our ministry to the less fortunate. Be careful not to twist reality to meet your needs.
Lord help me not to be so self centered as to make up spiritual realities that really serve as idols to me. Rather teach me to be genuine and open to your message. Let each day be a challenge to me. Allow your word to be my strength. May I never flee from a task because it would inconvenience me. Amen
November 12, 2014 · 11:48 am
I share this article from The Center for Contemplation and Action.
A ripening mind and heart might simply be described as a capacity for non-dual consciousness and contemplation. Many might just call it growth in compassion, but surely no growth in compassion is likely unless one learns how to forgive as a very way of life, and to let go of almost everything as we first imagined it had to
be. This is possible as we grow in the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian notion of faith, where not-knowing (the apophatic way) must be carefully paired with knowing (the kataphatic way). The Judeo-Christian tradition balances our so-called knowing with trust, patience, allowing, waiting, humility, love, and forgiveness, which is very nearly the entire message and surely the core message necessary for any possibility of actual ripening. Otherwise, we all close down, and history freezes up with all of its hurts, memories, and resentments intact. A non-dual way of knowing in the moment gives us a life process and not simply momentary dualistic answers, which always grow old because they are never totally true.
My guidance is a simple reminder and recall to what we will be forced to learn by necessity and under pressure anyway—the open-ended way of allowing and the deep meaning that some of us call faith. To live in trustful faith is to ripen, it is almost that simple. Let’s start practicing now, early in our life, so we do not have to take a crash course in our final years, weeks, days, and minutes of our lives. The best ripening happens over time, lots of time.
October 25, 2014 · 6:59 pm
Why does the Bible, and why does Jesus, tell us to care for the poor and the outsider? It is because we all need to stand in that position for our own conversion. We each need to stand under the mercy of God, the forgiveness of God, and the grace of God—to understand the very nature of reality. When we are too smug and content, then grace and mercy have no meaning—and God has no meaning. Forgiveness is not even desired. When we have pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps, religion is always corrupted because it doesn’t understand the mystery of how divine life is transferred, how people change, and how life flows. It has been said by others that religion is largely filled with people who are afraid of hell, and spirituality is for people who have gone through hell.
Jesus is always on the side of the crucified ones. He is not loyal to one religion, or this or that group, or the “worthy” ones—Jesus is loyal to suffering itself, wherever it is. He is just as loyal to the suffering of Iraqis or Afghanis as he is to the suffering of Americans. He is just as loyal to an oppressed gay man as he is to an oppressed married woman. We do not like that! He grabs all of our self-created boundaries away from us, and suddenly all we have is a free fall into the arms of God, who is our only and solid security. This seems to be God’s very surprising agenda, if I am to believe the Bible.
September 30, 2014 · 5:30 pm
The mystic Julian of Norwich, holding an acorn in her hand in the fourteenth century said of it, “In this is all that is.” The Earth shakes at the thought of the simple truth of it.
In every seed is the gift of life to those seeking life, wanting life, denied the kind of life that is full of energy, full of hope. But the hope is a tenuous one, a sacred one, one to be treated with awe for fear of our own failure to protect it.
Seeds are the one thing that are the only genuine promise we have of the future. “Even if I knew the world would end tomorrow,” Martin Luther wrote, “I would plant an apple tree today.” It is an insight that defies despair, that promises new life in the midst of the old. It is a beacon that cries out for commitment in an age such as ours when the seeds of destruction among us—greed, power, and control—are in mortal struggle with the seeds of life.
And now, so accustomed have we become to destruction in the name of progress, we are on the brink of commercializing seed, of politicizing seed, of monopolizing seed, of genetically modifying seeds for the sake of someone’s control of creation, of making seed the new military weapon of the twenty-first century.
It is all a matter of valuing the money we can make today more than we value the life that is meant to come.
But the problem is that we ourselves are all seeds, too. We are either seeds of universal love or seeds of exploitative racism. We are seeds of eternal hope or we are seeds of starving despair. We are seeds of a new humanity or we are the harbingers of humanity’s decay.
It is a choice. A conscious choice that depends on what we see in seeds and how we treat them and whose we think they are and what we will do to keep them free and available. Or not.
We are the seed of our own life to come and the life of the planet as well. Indeed, “In the seed is everything that is.
September 19, 2014 · 10:55 pm
There is an old rabbinic parable about a farmer that had two sons. As soon as they were old enough to walk, he took them to the fields and he taught them everything that he knew about growing crops and raising animals. When he got too old to work, the two boys took over the chores of the farm and when the father died, they had found their working together so meaningful that they decided to keep their partnership. So each brother contributed what he could and during every harvest season, they would divide equally what they had corporately produced. Across the years the elder brother never married, stayed an old bachelor. The younger brother did marry and had eight wonderful children.
Some years later when they were having a wonderful harvest, the old bachelor brother thought to himself one night, “My brother has ten mouths to feed. I only have one. He really needs more of his harvest than I do, but I know he is much too fair to renegotiate. I know what I’ll do. In the dead of the night when he is already asleep, I’ll take some of what I have put in my barn and I’ll slip it over into his barn to help him feed his children. At the very time he was thinking down that line, the younger brother was thinking to himself, “God has given me these wonderful children. My brother hasn’t been so fortunate. He really needs more of this harvest for his old age than I do, but I know him. He’s much too fair. He’ll never renegotiate. I know what I’ll do. In the dead of the night when he’s asleep, I’ll take some of what I’ve put in my barn and slip it over into his barn.” And so one night when the moon was full, as you may have already anticipated, those two brothers came face to face, each on a mission of generosity. The old rabbi said that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, a gentle rain began to fall. You know what it was? God weeping for joy because two of his children had gotten the point. Two of his children had come to realize that generosity is the deepest characteristic of the holy and because we are made in God’s image, our being generous is the secret to our joy as well. Life is not fair, thank God! It’s not fair because it’s rooted in grace.
John Claypool, Life Isn’t Fair, Thank God!
September 11, 2014 · 9:00 am
Several centuries ago, a Japanese emperor commissioned an artist to paint a bird. A number of months passed, then several years, and still no painting was brought to the palace. Finally the emperor became so exasperated that he went to the artist’s home to demand an explanation. Instead of making excuses, the artist placed a blank canvas on the easel. In less than an hour, he completed a painting that was to become a brilliant masterpiece. When the emperor asked the reason for the delay, the artist showed him armloads of drawings of feathers, wings, heads, and feet. Then he explained that all of this research and study had been necessary before he could complete the painting.
The word is preparation. One of the primary reasons for failure is lack of preparation. Are we preparing to succeed or setting ourselves up for failure? As in the story above, a person who is prepared for a task can easily accomplish it, but the unprepared flounder and fail.
When we go to church, our task is to worship God. Worship means to honor, respect or encounter. We cannot do any of these things unless we are prepared. Come to worship prepared to interact with God. He will pour out His blessings to you.
September 10, 2014 · 3:11 pm
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
The prophecies in Isaiah seem to be fulfilled in this man Jesus, whose actions live out the prophet’s promise. God is here, and God’s presence among us is manifested in healing. This is a wonderful vision. And we may feel very comfortable in looking forward to this. Who wouldn’t? Everybody wants to say; “I’m a good person,” . What a super possibility—a world where things would really be good. Imagine a world with only good. That is God’s world and He invites us to consider the possibility.”
This is how Mr. Wesley puts it::
“The most dry and barren places shall be made moist and fruitful; which is principally meant of the plentiful effusion of God’s grace upon such persons and nations, as had been wholly destitute of it.”
- Do you daily turn your troubles over to the Lord?
- Do you ask God to help you prosper?
- How often do you bring your troubles to the Lord?
As you worship consider how much different your life could be if you surrendered your all to God.
Filed under Death, Devotional, Isaiah, John Wesley
Tagged as Book of Isaiah, God, Isaiah, Jesu, John Wesley, Lord, Prophecy, Wesley
August 3, 2014 · 10:33 am
I have a little rock, smaller than the palm of my hand and shaped like a perfect heart. On a summer day while taking a walk with my grandfather, he noticed it on the ground and gave it to me. That was almost fifty years ago, and after moving sixteen times and a lot of life, I still have that little rock. It is one of my greatest treasures.
Jesus spoke of treasure. He had been telling his followers that the things we worry about – the material things like clothes and food, where we live and how much is in our “storehouses” – have already been provided by the Father. He encouraged them to look at the beauty of the lilies of the field and the helpless birds fed by their Creator. No greater provision could have been made for them.
Your treasure becomes what drives you. Your treasure determines how you spend your time and money and energy. Your treasure dominates your thoughts and consumes your passion. Your treasure defines your soul.
Jesus had just told the parable of the rich fool. This man had planned and hoarded and saved. He had become the rich owner of many storehouses and was proud of his hard work and accumulated abundance. One night – he died. He had a great wealth of the world’s temporary treasure all put away in a “safe” place, and a poverty of eternal treasure stored away in heaven.
I have been trying to remember last year’s Christmas gifts – those I received and those I gave. I remember being tired while shopping. I remember trying to find some bargains to save money. I remember making sure everyone got the same amount spent on them and trying to find just the right little treasure for each person. I remember opening presents after church on Christmas Eve. I cannot remember what those gifts were. How illusive the world’s treasure is!
Jesus has told us to make sure our treasure is in heaven, to make sure that what is important is eternal, to make sure that what is precious to us is of God. Christ has told us that what we cherish must be spiritual, must last past the few years of our lives, and must live on in the souls of those we have served. Our spiritual footprints should help others who journey behind us to find the way to Christ. Then our treasure is forever safely kept by God.
There is an old Creole proverb that says, “Tell me who you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Jesus said your heart, all of who you are determines what you treasure. Jesus warns us, we cannot serve two masters. We will choose to give our hearts to the world’s temporary treasure or God’s eternal treasure.
While you ponder and wait this Advent be honest about who you love and what you love. Take the time of this season to store up that eternal treasure, that real treasure so rare and precious it cannot be bought. It can be found in unexpected places and unexpected people as we serve in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “your heart and your treasure will be in the same place.”
Reflection – What does my heart truly treasure?