Nov 30, 2009

C.S. Lewis On Pride..And A Little Comment From Me.

For Pride is a spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.

Pleasure in being praised is not Pride. The child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well, the woman whose beauty is praised by her lover, the saved soul to whom Christ says, "Well done," are pleased and ought to be. For here the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please. The trouble begins when you pass from thinking, "I have pleased him; all is well," to thinking, "What a fine person I must be to have done it." The more you delight in yourself and the less you delight in the praise, the worse you are becoming.

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity page 112.

And I remind myself and my readers that it is much easier to see pride in others than in ourselves. We're astonished to find that this cancer dwells in places within us that we have never dreamed it would exist. When we discover it in ourselves or God points it out through someone else, may we call it what it is and ask God to cleanse us. It is a painful process.

Nov 28, 2009

Thoughts About How God Views His Children

We have returned from visiting Shawn's family for Thanksgiving. We had a wonderful time at his brother Chris' house. Chris and his wife Michelle hosted. I realize that food, fellowship, and ease are not things everyone here or throughout the world enjoy. I thank God for the blessings of food, shelter, and a loving family and hope to do what I can to help those that do not have these.

Just tonight I found a few thoughts I jotted down two days before my daughter, Iliana, turned two months old. It was on a scrap of paper so I am glad for the chance to record it here. Could it be that God sees us this way?

I hover over her face watching her as she sleeps.
I'm enamored. I gently kiss her cheek, startling her.
She's almost two months old, too little to understand
my good will. She cannot comprehend the depths of my
delight in her. My beautiful, beautiful child. Her lack
of knowledge doesn't affect the truth. My joy, my delight,
my child. You sleep peacefully while tears of love burst
forth from my tear ducts.

Angels declared peace on earth, good will to men.

Oh, we are so young, too young to understand the eternal
implications of God's love for us. But our lack of understanding
does not change the truth. As we live on in eternity, more and more
we'll perceive God's love. And such perceptions will gladden and comfort
our souls. And we will respond in great love and praise for our one God, Father,
Creator, Savior, Holy Spirit.

Nov 23, 2009

On Humility Trust and Stability

Here is a nourishing excerpt from Dennis Okholm's book: Monk Habits For Everyday People

Such trust that accompanies humility must characterize not only our relationship with God but our relationship with those in whose company we are being sanctified . . . the Benedictine vows of stability (staying in the community which God has called you) and conversatio moralis (daily turning to God) come into play. Whether the community is a monastery, a family, or a church, by remaining in the same community day after day, we are nearly forced to become humble. I cannot continue to wear the mask that hides my true self if I am with the same people on a regular basis. (Said differently, church-hopping is a useful practice if you want to nurture your pride.) When a group of folks are committed to mutual spiritual development, we can be transparent and vulnerable because we can trust that others will have our best interests at heart as they speak the truth in love to us. They will know us as we are and will lovingly force us to arrive at the same knowledge.

Dennis Okholm, Monk Habits For Everyday People pp. 77-78.

Nov 22, 2009

The Discipline of the Routine

Monotony. How we'd love to escape it. Cleaning our rooms, making our beds, doing dishes or laundry--none of these are very exciting. Yet, in the last several years, I've learned a thing or two about routine chores. For me, they are spiritual disciplines that fight against the sin of acedia. At least in my case, that is what laundry has come to be, an antidote to acedia (or sloth). When I do laundry, I do what I do not want to do, what I would rather put off or have someone else do for me. I should clarify--folding and neatly putting away the laundry is what I dislike doing. I have often contemplated hiring someone else to do my laundry and neatly put it away. Of course, I'd wash and put away the undergarments. But there is something about laundry in my life, it stacks up and has to be done over and over again, there is something about it that I find very tedious. I'll wash dishes or clean the bathroom or pick up...but laundry for me is a spiritual discipline.

At the end of her book, Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer's Life, Kathleen Norris shares a collection of definitions of acedia. One that I found particulary helpful was by Jean Bethke Eishtain who has this to say about it:

I take sloth to mean not simply inactivity but acquiescence in the conventions of one's day: a refusual to take up the burden of self-criticism; a falling into the zeitgeist unthinkingly, and, in so doing, forgettng that we are made to [citing Karl Barth] "serve God wittingly, in the tangle of our minds." . . . Pride and sloth may seem to be antitheses but there is "profound correspondence"
between the Promethan and the "unheroic and trivial form of sloth" . . . Sloth is a type of escapism, an evasion of responsibility. . .

Yes, I'd like to flee the responsibility of laundry and do something that I find more interesting. But in doing laundry, I combat sloth or acedia, which is good for my soul.

I appreciate this book. And the above is but one definiton of acedia. I recommend that we read the book, for in reading it we see ourselves and learn about a sin that is prevalent but rarely spoken of.

Nov 15, 2009

Gone for the Week!

Dear Readers,

I'll be away from the computer for the rest of this week. I'll resume posting when I get back!

God's peace to you!


Nov 12, 2009

Restoration in the wilderness
God will make us new.

“I will repay you for the years that the locusts have eaten . . . . ” Joel 2:25a

Do past failures have such a grip on you that they define who you are today? Maybe like Israel you said, “It is no use! I love foreign gods and I must go after them” (Jeremiah 3:25). But now, yesterday’s bad decisions will not leave you alone. You are haunted by memories of what you did or failed to do. No one knows the pain you endure as you weep bitterly every night before you fall asleep. You lie dreaming of who you could be, but awake as the same person you were when you went to bed. Other Christians are too busy to listen, or they seem indifferent. For fear of rejection, you‘re not even sure that you want anyone to know who you really are. So you keep wearing the same old smile – the one you’ve worked so hard to paste on. Alas, you conclude that no matter how hard you try, the course you have set for yourself cannot be changed.

Dear one, maybe like Judah you are barren with nothing to offer. The locusts in your life have eaten up your joy, dreams, and purpose. According to the prophet Joel, the locusts had eaten up everything in Judah: “The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails. Despair, you farmers, wail you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley because the harvest is destroyed” (Joel 1:10-11). The farmers and vine growers were told to wail because of what had taken place. The land was barren with nothing to offer its inhabitants. Without food for their animals or themselves, they would soon die. The Lord had allowed his judgment to fall on them because of their sin.

But, Ahhh! Let your mind and heart receive what the Lord says to Judah in chapter two, “ I will repay you for the years that the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25a). What a beautifully refreshing promise! God was going to restore the land for his people although their suffering was the result of their own choices! He was going to repay them for what was lost!

He has proclaimed that he is, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin . . .” (Exodus 34: 6,7a).
He forgives you, so loosen your clutch on the past!
Let your compassionate and gracious God, the one abounding in love and faithfulness, instill truth into your heart and mind. In Jeremiah 32:27 he says, “I am the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?” Of course, the answer is, “No!” If nothing is too hard for him, then neither is your transformation . As well as restoring for Judah the years the locusts had eaten, God promised to take pity on his people and send them new grain, new wine, and new oil so they would be fully satisfied (Joel 2:18-19). He will do the same for you. Believe his promises.

Nov 9, 2009


You used me
and then
You treated me with contempt
Like a cigarette butt
you flicked me onto the ground
then delighted in slowly and
methodically grinding me into
the pavement.

Nov 8, 2009

Do I measure Things Like Jesus?

A Snippet From The Good Preacher Robert Arbogast's Sunday Sermon!

Mark 12:38-44 (The Widow's Mite)

It was festival week in Jerusalem. Large crowds of pilgrims had gathered, coming from near and far. Jesus and his disciples,fresh from Galilee, were among them.

I wonder what would happen if we measured things and if we measured people, including
ourselves, the way Jesus does. I’m guessing that we would be far less impressed with the rich and the famous than we are now. And isn’t it high time that we stopped listening to them and to their publicists, totheir constant reminders to us of how important they are, what with their academic credentials? Or with their financial credentials? Or with their political credentials? Or with their white teeth, clear skin, and big boobs credentials? We don’t seriously think any of that impresses Jesus, do we? And he’s probably not as impressed with us as we are either.

In the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, young Greg Heffley is pretty impressed with himself. He thinks he’s one of the cleverest, kindest, sanest people around. But he’s a bit generous in that self-evaluation. I wonder how much of Greg Heffley is in me. Am I as generous as I think I am? Am I as thoughtful, am I as devoted, as I think I am? Am I even remotely aware of how little the Gospel has shaped my values? Aware that I have had a thousand teachers, each with their own
agenda? Aware that I am better at dropping Jesus’ name than at dropping everything to follow him?

But what would happen if we started to pay attention to people, like Jesus watching the people at the Temple treasury? What would we see if we dared to look a little deeper than the outward action? What would we see if we dared to look closely to discern the heart? Who would impress us then, especially if we tried to see the way Jesus sees? Would we be impressed by the person with the most money? By the woman with the longest legs? By the man with the fastest time in the 100? Or would we be impressed by the young man with multiple handicaps, sitting in his wheelchair, taking our tickets at the movies? Or by the illegal immigrant from Mexico who juggles three jobs to take care of her children? Or by the overworked, underpaid social worker who just won’t give up on kids?

And what would happen if we wanted somehow to impress Jesus ourselves? It’s probably too late for this year, but Jan and I were talking about this the other day. What if we decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner here, a dinner for people who have nowhere to go or nothing to eat, certainly not a feast, on Thanksgiving Day, a dinner not at some less-than-optimal time, but at prime Thanksgiving dinner time, so that our Thanksgiving Day is all about our neighbors who need a feast, and if we want a feast, we can eat with them, and if we want a family feast we can do it on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving Day? What if we decided that that was a good way to use this building and a good way to use our money and our time and our love? Of course, to get there, to get anywhere near any of this, we would have to change the way we measure things and change the way we measure people, including ourselves. And that’s no easy thing to do. It’s like trying to adopt the metric system.

But change the way you measure things, and you change the way you see the world. And the Gospel has everything to do with that.

Nov 7, 2009

I Am Too Busy To Love Others

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

John 13:34-35

Are we too busy to love other people, to busy to genuinely ask, "How are you?" and then listen patiently for a response? As I read through the gospels, it seems like Jesus was never in a hurry. But we seek to hurry our ministry, to hurry our loving--so we can check it off of our lists and feel good about ourselves, about our Christianity.

But God calls us to be truly present to those around us, not to everyone, but to those he brings along our paths. I am not saying we are not called to love those in other parts of our city or country or even those across the earth. Often, we send our love to those far away through prayer and giving. We send an emissary, it could be a missionary to them in the name of Jesus. Sometimes God calls us to go in person to Judea, Samaria, or the uttermost parts of the earth. And if he calls us to do so, we dare not disobey.

But if we are failing to even love those around us, to be present, because we are too busy, are we really obeying Jesus' command to love one another?

Of course loving others means we will take the much needed Sabbath rest and daily moments to commune with God. But if we are always running here and there, always over committed, always exhausted --just plain too busy to love--that means there is something intrinsically wrong with how we are living.

Nov 5, 2009

The Way of the Cross

"Jesus' life has a general narrative direction. We call this general direction the Way of the Cross. Jesus understood from the beginning that his was a life of sacrifice. His life flowed toward the cross at all times. He never climbed any first century ladders of success. The devil showed him plenty. The people begged him to climb them. Jesus rejected ladders and consistently chose the downward road of sacrifice."

From the Art of Pastoring by David Hansen

Nov 4, 2009

Something I read by Scot McKnight Meant So Much...

I read this on September 9, 2009 on Scot McKnight's blog: Jesus Creed. You can find it at

"The message of life threatens some in powerful places. Those who proclaim this message are not always in positions of power, and as such the powers that exist are threatened by the gospeling power of the insignificant ones empowered by God to preach and declare God's wonders. The apostles are in God's hands and protected by God's hands. A piece of theology very important in missional theology. There is nearly a pitiful irony in this: those in power are outdone by the power of God; those who deny resurrection are challenged by those who do; those who control sacred space can't control the space where God seeks to work." He was commenting on Acts 5:17-26.

This quote encouraged me because it reminds me that even though I am a woman, the gospeling power is at work in me to preach God's word and declare his wonders. I don't have to be in power for God to work mightily. The disciples were unknowns and regarded with contempt by the religious establishment. But, God still used them to speak his word and change worlds. Whoever you are, whatever your status, God can use you mightily for the good of those around you...including sinful institutions within your sphere of influence. Your gender, race, and economic status matter not to God. He gives grace to the humble.

Nov 2, 2009

Fully Alive In The Kingdom of God - This Is Me Now! I Re-posted This!

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” — Revelation 21:5

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
— 2 Corinthians 5:17

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. — John 10:10

Before the awakening I was doped up, anesthetitized — all senses numb to the world around me. Half-dead, like someone in a deep depression. Confused about what’s real, what’s not, who I am. The world, really my gross misconceptions of it, consisted of all that related to me — all that I deemed important. I believed reality corresponded to my own deadened perceptions. I was near-sighted. The world, mostly black and white, laced with grays. I saw shadows, but not the things themselves.

Colors — I lacked the sheer joy of seeing and experiencing their brilliant tones, their finely distinguished hues. I didn’t notice inimitable details in a flower or in a painting or in a face. I didn’t see particular shapes and trees and lives. On walks, I was concerned only with starting and finishing; I didn’t observe the distinctive playfulness, personality, and face of the dogs exploring the world. All ran together. All blended into a glob of gray. I had only heard about the goodness, love, incomprehensibility, mercy, grace, immanence, transcendence, salvation, and glory of God. I hadn’t tasted it. I’d get excited to taste test some new experience and found all I tasted to be dull — bland, bland, bland.

Unsatisfactory. In the end, meaningless — no richness or lingering taste in my mouth. Many times it was bitter, yet sometimes it was honey to my lips and poison to my system. Nothing was as tasty as it was made out to be.What I touched had no texture. If it did, I didn’t really feel it. Jagged edges, the furry, and the fluffy, hot or cold, soft and rigid — all pretty much the same. No fine distinctions. The touch of the Divine Presence upon me, upon the earth? His glory was muted. Yes, I thought the touch of the Almighty Presence was muted throughout the world, in some places non-existent. I smelled stale, polluted air. Coughing racked my lungs. Where was the pure fresh air?

But ever since Christ set me free from hellish captivity he has given me, as Henry Drummond writes, “the liberty to stop sinning, to leave the prison of my passions, and shake off the fetters of my past.” Ever since, I have been redeemed from the prison, saved, forgiven, I have been made and continue to be made fully alive, new. He has awakened me from the dead. Life, the world, is no longer about my interests. But he’s not doing that for me alone. He does that for all who allow him and for creation. The book of Romans tells us that animals, plants — all life forms groan for that redemption too. He is making all things new. He is redeeming me. He wants to redeem you — to show you what it is like to be human, the way he intended you to be. And he is redeeming creation. I see reality for what it is: it is about his motivation, his interests, his Kingdom — others. He is in the process of making all things new — people and this earth. I was blind, but now I see.

Now, I am continually silenced by the glory of God. My mouth hangs open in gaping wonder as the Great Almighty Presence, the one true God, through Christ, haunts my every waking moment. He clings to each of my thoughts. Holy Spirit Wind, Pneuma, kisses my face, rustles through my hair and I see evidences of the Spirit blowing through, touching the lives of peoples and institutions and creation. God, in the Spirit of Christ, calls me to love my neighbors, all those around, and he wants to redeem peoples and earth through me and through those in the kingdom.Ah! I inhale, I breathe pure Holy Spirit air. My lungs are made strong. I see colors, particularities, details, God seeping through all things — he’s not the same as his creation, but his fingerprint is everywhere. He captures me, vivifies me with his presence. I’ve tasted his love and goodness and transcendence, and immanence, and salvation. God’s pleasures and sorrows are mine.So now what? He hasn’t called me to live for myself, but for his pleasure and sorrow. I have an assignment in the kingdom. And so do you. He wants to make you fully alive. He wants you live for his motivations, interests, pleasures and pains. In short, he wants to make you like Christ. This is the God of the universe, who calls you to have life in Christ. This is the God who calls you to love him, enjoy him, and enjoy all that emanates from him forever. He has your best in mind. Too many Christians and those who know little about him see him as stingy and harsh and overbearing — not as the God he claims to be. See him for who he is. See reality for what it is. Live in him — be fully alive.