So – I’m in a bit of a quandary – I do love all things mysticism – but only because of the impact it has had on my relationship with God. And – while I’m pretty excited about the great mystics of the past and present and what they have to say about being in God’s presence – I am also pretty excited about many many other aspects of faith … so I’m considering altering the blog to reflect a larger purpose. thoughts?
Pickle knows how to grow carrots February 25, 2013
Actually – let me put it more accurately. For the last three years I’ve tried to grow carrots. Pretty much every year follows the same pattern …
Step 1 research what kind of conditions they like, compare ideal conditions to present conditions and tweak
Step 2 buy a fresh packet of seed – slightly higher quality than the last brand
Step 3 plant carrots like mad
In three years I have harvested a beautiful and mind-blowing 6 miniature carrots. Not one was longer than my pinky. Don’t get me wrong – they were delicious, but …
Then I happened to meet a carrot-growing fiend right here in my own neighborhood – a retired nieghbor who goes by the name of “Pickle”. Just one conversation with this yoda-like garden-guru and a whole new world opens up about carrots. And what do you know – per Pickle I’ve been doing a few things wrong – starting with sewing seed … Pickle sews way more seed than I do.
What do you know – I usually sew 1 seed per carrot I want … Pickle blows that ratio out of the water. Go Pickle.
But it’s also a pretty solid Biblical principle … about sewing and reaping “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6.
Pickle’s principle of growing carrots got me thinking about how I sew into my relationship with God, and my relationship with others, and pretty much everything else. But in particular when it comes to God – I think I’m going to sew even more abundantly than Pickle.
What’s your name? February 23, 2013
Names are a big deal. In the Bible they were frequently prophetic. In our time – they can impact how you get teased, who hires you for what kind of work and be the basis of your friends’ nickname for you – not to mentioned how your mother hollers for you when you’re in big trouble!
The name Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9-10) became an inspiration and a whole marketing movement a while back – and suddenly everyone was aware of this obscure Hebrew Scripture figure who’s name meant “borne with pain” who despite this name was “more honorable than his brothers” and took the bold step of asking God to “bless him indeed and enlarge my borders.” I think this prayer is valuable – as is the living more honorably – but regardless – the way all of us who experienced that sensation hear Jabez differently now.
Then there are the names that the various prophets gave their children … like Isaiah’s two children “Speedy is the Booty, Speedy is the Prey” (Isaiah 8:1) or Hosea’s daughter “She has not Obtained Compassion” and his son “Not my People” (Hosea 1:6-8).
But here’s the more pragmatic question for today … what if your name became full of meaning by your conduct? Or to take it a step-further – what if your name became a verb? When Google was founded in 1998 – people thought “huh. what a funny name” but by the early 2000’s – Google became a verb – and now we can hardly imagine not using Google as a verb. In fact – I just googled Google’s foundation date – and I imagine I spend a fair amount of time every week googling various facts.
So – what about it? What if you were so submitted to God – and so in tune with how He’s gifted you to bless the world – that your name were a verb? For me – thinking about my name this way immediately clarifies the degree to which I am not yet as clear as I would like to be about WHO He created me to BE. But the idea fills me with humility and inquiry. And – I do not believe this is a question that is answered by defining or finding ourselves – but rather by peeling away layers of baggage, our Old Self as Paul refers to over and over in Romans 6-8 – and by standing ever more firmly in submission to “Thy will be done.” I believe it’s a matter of discovery and recovery – rather than self-determination because He’s already promised to give us a new name. (Revelation 2:17)
Was David an insomniac? February 20, 2013
He may or may not have been an insomniac as we understand the term today – but he certainly saw not sleeping at night as an option for drawing closer to God – as is borne out by several of his Psalms.
“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.” Psalm 63:6
“My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on Your Word.” Psalm 119:148
David certainly was a mystic in the sense that He loved the presence of the Lord – and this love drove His heart after God. David was so remarkable in this aspect – that his son Solomon – and all the rest of his descendants – were measured against him and found wanting. This comparison starts with Solomon (1 Kings 11:4) and continues through David’s line until it fades into the exile. King after king the Bible records their devotion as being “not like his father David.”
It’s not just David who heard the voice of the Lord during the silent hours. Samuel’s famously unique experience is a favorite Bible story among children and gives adults pause for good reason.
Do you anticipate laying awake on your bed in the night watches meditating on the Lord? It sounds great on paper … It sounds like an utterly different proposition the fourth, fifth, or the twentieth night in a row. When you’re reduced to existing on 3 hours or so a night – and insomnia frequently means you cannot “catch up” on sleep via naps, or going to bed early, or … anything … until one night you finally just sleep again. Anticipating – with true eagerness – another night of meditating on the Lord requires a leap of faith that surpasses and surpasses again the exhaustion. It requires an abiding faith that He will sustain you – and letting go of such a basic level of control – over one’s own sleep.
The thing is: He will sustain you. You may find that sustenance in a level of leaning on Him that you’d previously been dodging.
preach the gospel at all times – and when necessary use words February 17, 2013
I love the mission-statement nature of this little quote from St. Francis of Assisi. It strikes at the heart of where talking about Christ falls short of living like Him – and puts words in their proper place – behind all our other actions.
This little phrase also reminds us of the tall order it really is to live like Christ and gives comfort to all of us who are naturally silver-tongued and eloquent. We needn’t worry that our witness is less for lack of verbage. Rather – may the love of Christ leaking out of us through our actions – I pray – become like a bell
– on which our Christ-like words may resonate.
a quiet kind of Lent February 15, 2013
So – the previous two posts reviewed way too briefly a short history of Lent – its origins, and the reasons for its absence from most protestant denominations. And now – the third day of Lent already – here it is as simply as I can put it …
walk with God to flourish –
for this season – whatever it is for you – to be full to overflowing with God’s presence –
for new revelations about God’s work in you and through you –
for you to find healing –
for you to bask in His love –
for you to find renewed meaning in the imperfect in your life –
So if Lent is so awesome – why did so many stop observing it? February 11, 2013
During the Reformation many of the reformers spoke out against Lent. Ulrich Zwingly said Lent “had more to do with obeying Rome than the Gospel”. Martin Luther denounced apparent church teaching that strict observance during Lent could “cancel” out sin. John Calvin called Lent “superstitious”. So – clearly – they were not fans of Lent. Many of the protestant denomination that grew out of the reformers teachings solidified their founder’s opinions on Lent into official theology. And – in their defense – you cannot look up “Lent” in any translation of the Bible and site chapter and verse where Jesus or any of His Twelve Disciples ever sermonized on the observance of Lent. It’s not in scripture anywhere – and – again – to their defense – the earliest writing of it is the little tid-bit from Iraneous’s letter, which was probably written at least 150 years (probably more) after Jesus death. And – this letter also doesn’t prescribe any particular command to observe Lent or explanation of how to celebrate Lent. The reformers could have cited this sparing mention and teaching on Lent as proof that it was not important to Jesus’ first followers.
The protestant denominations that are more closely related to Catholicism (Anglicans & Episcopalians for instance) have retained Lent – whereas the restoration/back-to-the-Bible fundamentalist denominations generally not only don’t celebrate Lent – but zealously reject giving up chocolate as a means of being “spiritual” They site the abuses of Lent in the church’s history – and to be sure – one doesn’t have to be an analytic genius to understand that a generally poorly educated flock of church attenders could be “beneficially” motivated to give more, serve more and generally bolster the generally accepted power of the church with their efforts during Lent. In that environment, Lent could easily be abused and lowered to a mere annual live-portrayal of the absolute power of the church – not only over people’s meager resources in this life – but over their fate in the next.
It is easy to imagine the reformers’ strong opinions on these ideas. While I’m no historian and have never made a thorough study of the reformers – it is easy to imagine that they could have spoken out against the potential problems of legalism and self-righteousness possible in observances of Lent. Though I have not read specific texts where the reformers spoke out against this – I have for a fact heard sermons by their followers who did.
The reformers complaints and charges regarding the abuses of Lent were valid – and yet they don’t change the fact that:
1. Reflection with prayer, fasting and giving is useful for believers – and Easter is a logical season to engage in this
2. Jesus’ disciples themselves engaged in this practice.