welcome to the disparate musings of a Christian-existential-zen-wanderer on the fringes of everything in pursuit of God

What’s your name? February 23, 2013

Filed under: faith,Prayer,random stuff — GraceHabit @ 12:44 PM

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.


my name is stickerThen 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)


a quiet kind of Lent February 15, 2013

Filed under: faith,Prayer — GraceHabit @ 2:16 PM

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 …


Over the course of this Lent I’ll be praying and fasting (a Daniel fast) for your

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 –

and for you to be able to share this movement on God’s part in
your life with those around you.




A Brief Look at Lent – in Ancient times February 10, 2013

Filed under: faith,Prayer — GraceHabit @ 12:12 PM
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HerodLampLitRtRegardless of what religious tradition you grew up with – there is good reason to understand Lent – especially if you are a practicing Christian – and most especially if you are interested in aligning your faith practices with those of Jesus’ disciples – those with the first-hand contact with Jesus that we’re so dreamily admiring of. The more I learn about Lent – the more I feel drawn into its practice – so in that spirit – here’s some basic information.


Lent – the idea of it – is first mentioned in a letter written by Iraneous of Lyons who lived from 130-202. Iraneous was a disciple of Polycarp’s – who was a disciple of the Apostle John – so there’s as short a distance between what Iraneous understood about the life of Jesus and His Apostles as anyone in the world at that time had. Iraneous wrote in his letter about the differences between Christendom in the East and the West. The letter is recorded by the historian Eusebius.


” “The dispute is not only about the day, but also about the actual character of the fast. Some think that they ought to fast for one day, some for two, others for still more; some make their ‘d
ay’ last 40 hours on end. Such variation in the observance did not originate in our own day, but very much earlier, in the time of our forefathers” (Eusebius, History of the Church, V, 24). When Rufinus translated this passage from Greek into Latin, the punctuation made between “40” and “hours” made the meaning to appear to be “40 days, twenty-four hours a day.” ”


The phrase “our forefathers” was an expression reserved exclusively to refer to the Apostles. So – it would seem that while Iraneous is conceding differences in calculating the date of Easter, and how long to fast for Easter – there was no question at all that this was the norm, or that this practice came from the Apostles, Jesus’ hand-picked rag-tag band of disciples, themselves. The number 40 – appears over and over again in the Bible – 40 days of rain in the flood, 40 days Moses fasted on Mount Sinai before the Lord, 40 days and nights Elijah walked to the Mountain of the Lord, 40 days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness – and – the traditional belief that Jesus was dead for 40 hours. Counting 40 days of Lent is a bit tricky – Sundays don’t count – as they’re already holy-days.


Early on – it seems that fasting in preparation for Lent was part education-season for new converts – who were preparing to be baptized Easter weekend.
Ash-WednesdayLent was also a season of penance and identification with the sufferings of Christ – to focus on humility and gratitude. This humility is captured with the association of ashes used on Ash Wednesday – ashes were used as a sign of repentance – like Job who sat in “ashes” (Job 2:8). So at various points in church history – Christians fasted during the day for 40 days – eating only after a certain hour in the afternoon/evening; or Christians essentially ate vegan for the time of Lent – and began their fasts by being symbolically covered with ashes. By the Council of Nicea in 325 AD observing Lent with a 40 day fast of some sort was the Christian norm. So – so sum up – it seems that Lent was observed with fasts and penance for the purpose of converting, repenting, and for renewing a humble and grateful demeanor towards God.


By the way – about the name “Lent” – originally in most languages was called something related to the number forty. For instance in Greek it was called “Quadragesima” which meant “fortieth”. It’s still called fortieth – or “Cuaresma” in Spanish. It became “Lent” in English as a reference to it taking place at a time of the year when the days “lente” or old English for “lengthened” I doubt any one can say for certain why in Germanic languages (like English and Dutch) the weeks running up to Easter are named for spring instead of 40 – as is the case in most of the romance languages.




Diary of a Martyr February 2, 2013

Filed under: faith,Prayer — GraceHabit @ 9:44 PM

perpetuaandfelicityIn 181AD Perpetua was born into a noble family in ancient Carthage, in north Africa. 22 years later – after Perpetua had married and given birth to her first-born, a son – she was arrested and imprisoned along with a few others for converting to Christianity. The small band of criminal converts included two freemen, Saturus, and Seculdulus; two slaves Revocatus and 8-month expectant Felicity and Perpetua herself.


The diary was Perpetua’s – and starts with her arguing with her father over her recent conversion. He wants her to recant and deny her faith – but Perpetua refuses and is quickly baptized on her way to prison. The guards are bribed and Perpetua moves to a better part of the prison and is allowed to keep her son with her – which leads her to declare that she’d rather be in prison with her son than anywhere else in the world.


Most heart-rending of Perpetua’s diary are her father’s and the Roman governor’s pleas that she renounce her faith. “Daughter, have pity on my grey head – have pity on me your father, if I deserve to be called your father … Do not abandon me to be the reproach of men. Think of your brothers, your mother and your aunt, think of your child!” Hilarianus, the governor presiding over the case states – “Have pity on your father’s grey head; have pity on your infant son. Offer the sacrifice for the welfare of the emperors” Hilarianus even has Perpetua’s father beat in an attempt to force her re-conversion.

Perpetua’s response – as well as that of her fellow inmates – is “I will not”


On March 7th, 203 Perpetua and her friends paid the highest price for their faith. That this happened 1810 years ago – seems  impossible – but I am in awe of their courage.




Dick Eastman September 20, 2012

Filed under: Prayer — GraceHabit @ 5:55 PM

If you have ever wondered how you could possibly spend an hour in prayer – please let me introduce you to Dick Eastman. My discipler put me onto this guy in college – but he has a 12 part prayer method – which looks at 12 different kinds of prayers seen in Scritpure and has you spending 5 minutes in each style of prayer to make up an hour of prayer. The whole idea of an hour comes from Jesus statement to His disciples in the garden – “Could you not pray with me one hour?” (Mark 14:37).


The part about this way of praying for longer periods of time – is the way it incorporates listening and watching into prayer … it immediately points the new prayer-er towards the reality that prayer is far far more than reciting to God a laundry list of needs and wants – but rather it is the front-line in the war of our transformation. Prayer is also where God breathes life into our Spirits – and illuminate for us how He has made us to work with Him in His Kingdom on Earth.  


Actually – the little book that Dick Eastman wrote to teach this prayer method is available for nada mucho these days – and I encourage anyone who’s looking for more ways to spend time in prayer to pick up a copy. It’s as easy to pray a few minutes as it is a few hours with this method – and if you’ve never spent much time focused on listening, watching or meditating – you might find the discussion on how to engage in these practices invigorating.