Saturday, December 30, 2006
The Church is called to be united in four ways. Firstly in Conviction, secondly in Love, thirdly in Purpose and fourthly in the mind of Christ. Paul writing to the Philippians from his house arrest in Rome makes it obvious that this would give him the greatest joy. The way we do this is very obvious to Paul. We are to treat others and that would mean all people as if they were greater than ourselves. In doing this you will be putting their interests first above your own. This is the mind of Christ. You cannot put it more simply. This is how we ought to live amongst each other. The Jerusalem bible uses the word ‘self-effacing’ to describe the attribute. We are usually taught the opposite, to get to the top, to believe in yourself and win at all costs. Young teenagers are showing more and more the tendencies to be self-willed and arrogant. The rights we speak of in our advanced constitution are the rights not of ourselves but the rights of others around us. The temptation to swing from parading our needs to parading the needs of others is a spiritual matter and needs constant correction. (Philippians 2:1-5)
Friday, December 29, 2006
I am called to repay a curse with a blessing. The path of non-violence and not non-resistance. I am called not to be silent but to walk as Jesus walked. He chose the path of non-violence and suffering. Working this out in everyday life is the trick. It seems easier when there are clear cut evil boundaries like the sea meeting the land. The everyday dialogue is filled with so much grey, misinformation and smudged boundaries that to speak up and not be resistant to evil is difficult. It is possibly the moment my own heart is troubled by injustice, unfair criticism or is hurt that the alarm bells ought to ring for me to be cautious with my words and my actions. This and at the same time to be aware that it is possibly the time I need to gracefully resist the evil. The disciplines of my faith should be the building blocks of my hearts reaction to the subtle play of evil all around me. The easier route from violent reaction is the other evil, silent hatred. Both are as bad as the other. Help me find the middle road. The path that is bold enough to speak the truth with love. (My thoughts are provoked by 1 Peter 3:8-12 and “Daily bible Study – Adult bible Studies”)
Thursday, December 21, 2006
If only one could stick to things with the same fervor all the time. Certain things bring temporary fulfillment and we assume we will feel the same when doing them again. Not so, we may feel nothing the next time we do it, or even at times disdain. The truth of the matter is that some things are forever and others are just for the moment. The moment has its place, but the things we deem important are necessary to stitch into our lives in such away that they bring lasting fulfillment. The patterns of conscious discipline working towards higher values will eventually be the true reward. The grace of God that brings life to our limbs grows tall upon the wired trellis of our established and worked out principles and values. Weighing up the moments feelings are critical if we are to become anything but a reacting being. The ability to discern between the quick moving emotion of pleasure and the longer more satisfying feelings that come from learned discipline is critical. Our joy comes from the ability to open up our life more and more to the grace of God. All we are doing is binding and mending the fence upon which this luscious vine can grow. Why is it that so many people seek help but when asked “And how is your prayer life?” they stutter and stammer as if this is not important. We love magical recipes but don’t ask us to do anything to change ourselves. We know we are made in the image of God and for many of us we know we are the very children of God but the crunch comes in how well we are able to live that out. This only happens through spiritual training and hard work. A longer wait, but whoever told us that instant gratification was the answer?
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Ghost busters we are. The call to expose the works of darkness is found in Ephesians 5.8-14. Not only are we to illuminate our lives with the loving light of our faith in Christ and watch the bugs scamper into dark corners but we are to bring that light to others. This is a wonderful image to highlight what happens when the children of God take up their call to meditate and pray with their God. The light gets that much brighter, the obvious bugs that fled long ago have now been replaced by stains unnoticed as the lights radiance brightens. At times there needs to be a spring clean of our soul to remove the persistent dark marks that taint our personality from many years of conscious and unconscious sin. The New Year is upon us and time on earth is once again the subject of discussion. Time is like a broken tap running, its water rushes down into the ground unstopped. May we take every opportunity to catch as much life as we can.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The faithful are storytellers. A story from the heart and not by yellow pages. The story of a relationship that happens in our ‘now’ life. The glow of this story may not even shine from words but merely from presence and action. In fact words can be a distraction. It is important to know that we are storytellers and not readers. A reader takes in a story and appreciates its meaning but the storyteller takes that meaning and translates it into words that helps others read. A storyteller listens to the subject of its story, the heart’s movements, desires and experiences. The skill of the storyteller lies in how well they know their hearts transformed. The ability to put concepts to feelings, names to hopes, and truth to sentiments. The Jesus story is not placed on a shelf or neatly stacked by the bedside. The story of all stories is translated, re-translated and shared from one heart to the next.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The book Emotional Intelligence has been a watershed in helping me place a number of unclassified notions of mine. The basics of the book is the importance of being able to define your emotions accurately, and then to act in ways that are beneficial to you and those around you. The book is hopeful too. If you are laden with emotional scars from younger days there is certainly hope that one can re-wire the circuitry of the brain to deal with these out of control emotions in different ways. It was interesting to learn that bulimia and anorexia nervosa are not the result of over demanding parents as earlier studies indicated. Later studies have found that the cause of these illnesses are more likely to result from teenagers who have not been able to define their feelings accurately and then coupled with the societal pressure to be skinny becomes a dangerous mess of emotions. The desire for food is confused and becomes a negative trigger rather than a natural response for nutrition. There are countless examples across the board of emotional problems and the book ends with the ways in which emotional imprinting can be reworked through repetitive acts of positive re-inforcement. I am convinced after reading this book that the importance of emotional intelligence learning is critical during the teenage years. A comment in this book that did not surprise me was that one of the factors contributing to the escalation of childhood depression is the breakdown in religious education. Amongst other factors children are not seeing their lives within the greater framework of a God and how their lives have meaning regardless of their circumstances. They are not sure that they can be a greater person or for that matter be forgiven and thus move on to be something different. The Christian faith in my estimation is one of the greatest contributors of emotional intelligence. Let alone the connection with ones creator, but the repetitive disciplines of prayer, mediation, worship, communion etc, are excellent means of re-wiring the emotional and brain circuitry to help people live more adjusted and productive lives.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Nature can hold a lesson or two for us. Sitting quietly in prayerful reflection I caught sight of two flying geese in the thick wet fog of the morning. I drove in that fog last night. Not even my car lights could penetrate the mass of water that blankets the hill. The geese flew with such confidence and speed through this fog, their long necks stretched to full capacity and their gliding flight as straight as a line. An astonishing feat considering the visibility. How I wish I could fly with such confidence in the foggy parts of my life. When our weather is foggy we tend to fear the worst and land up going nowhere. The faithful learn to stretch their necks out and beat the air with a confidence that bleeps on another radar system. A confidence that is bred from within and not without. The faith that rests the fear of being lost in the hands of its creator. The faith that knows that wherever it is, it cannot be outside of where God intended it to be. If the heart is with God there are a thousand places to go and no place called lost. We are so funny we are, there seems only to be a right and wrong way. In God, all ways are Gods.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I know that solitude and prayer is one of the most powerful ways to encounter the world. Being busy is the easiest way to avoid the real issues. Window dressing is a practice of others, but not the Christian’s. Sitting quietly in the morning with the taste of coffee in the mouth, bible in hand and a guided prayer guide can transform foundations of the heart and thus the Universe itself. We are to be reminded that we can see deeper and know wider once we have looked with Jesus-eyes. The simplest of words , “yes” or “no” that come from hearts rooted in worship and prayer have as much power as the eloquent speech of a Prime Minister. I was reminded today by and article from book “ ‘The gospel according to Abbie James Wells,’ by Abbi James Wells” that it took a “yes” from Mary before Jesus was born (Lk1.38). God proposed and she accepted. The incarnation of God’s presence continues unabated through hearts who are prepared to search deeper and say “yes” to the purpose of God in our world.