Jul 31, 2011

Do You Bless Or Curse?

As of late, I've been thinking in terms of blessing and cursing. Am I a blessing or a curse to my husband and daughter? Are they refreshed by me or drained? Would they rather run into my presence or flee it? What can I do to bless those closest to me and those I come into contact with? I have to think of intentional ways to bless others because I am naturally inclined to look after my own interests and try to attain blessings in my own strength.

Blessing or cursing also seeps into our circles of influence. Do people seek to be around me or do they find ways to avoid me? Each one of us has weak areas. Some of us are impatient and lash out easily; others of us don't speak up when we should. Some of us come off as opportunistic--using others when we believe they'll advance our purposes. People pick up on that.

The question is, are we blind to those weaknesses? Do we push others away when they try to carefront us? Or are we teachable, willing for the Holy Spirit to conform us into the image of Jesus?

Each one of us has many strengths. The question is, are we using those strengths or are we too fearful to use them? Fearful because we are scared of what others will think? At times, I back off with my gifts because I am a woman and my gifts aren't welcomed in certain circles. Sometimes I back off because people are clear they don't want what God has to offer through me (if I were a man, it'd be another story). But doesn't Scripture say "he spread his gifts abroad?" You and I are robbing people of the blessing God has for them when we let fear or circumstances keep us from using the gifts God has given us. Satan delights in our burying and hoarding of God's treasures.

When we fail to exercise our gifts the body of Christ suffers. It's as if a limb or organ is dysfunctional or even dead. And that's a curse.

Why don't you, along with me, think of ways we can be a blessing to others (perhaps that might lead us to decide we need times of silence and solitude--because we are wearing others out by being spiritually and emotionally and physically off). Jesus said that the greatest person in the kingdom will be the servant of all. Servants are usually in the background--seemingly invisible. They often go unnoticed and are sometimes mistreated.  Attention is not showered upon them; it is showered upon the master. That's probably why John said about Jesus, "He must increase and I must decrease."

However, you need to know that God sees everything you do. Everything. Genesis tells us he is the God Who Sees. Remember the story of Hagar and Ishmael? If you don't receive the recognition you definitely deserve remember dear one that God sees all things even that which is done in secret. He sees and honors everything done for him in Jesus' name. When all things are made new you will be rewarded for your loving service on his behalf.

Another thought on blessing and service: in John 13, after Jesus washed his disciples feet he said that they'd be blessed if they did likewise. Blessing comes through serving others, as our Lord's glory increases and our self-seeking and self-service diminishes. It is a hard teaching that is nevertheless true.

Do we really seek to be a blessing and not a curse?

Jul 24, 2011

Spiritual Renewal

"Those who study the history of the church have discovered that three elements are generally in place in seasons of genuine spiritual renewal: fervent study of God’s Word, concerted and united prayer, and a willingness to confess brokenness and dependence upon God. These three choices of the will are ones that each person alive today can make… and when we do, the choices of the heart will follow. This is often the time when we see individuals come alive in the love of Christ, filled to overflowing with the fullness of the Spirit."

This comes from The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia's post "Choices" over at the Conversations Journal Blog: http://conversationsjournal.com/2011/07/choices/.

Jul 23, 2011

The Gift and Discipline of Listening

Do we listen to others?

"Listening is one of the most basic ways we submit to each other. In fact, listening is minute-by-minute submission to others. I clear away what is going on in my mind and I follow what others are saying. I 'die' to my own desires and 'live' to theirs. Loving God and loving others are tied together. Said Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 'He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter.' But as we live life in union with God, we become steeped in empathy and genuinely care for other persons. We begin to live our lives in Jesus' attentive presence. This is what life in the kingdom of God here and now is meant to be."

~ Jan Johnson in her book Invitation to the Jesus Life: Experiments in Christlikeness

Jul 22, 2011

Life-Transforming Silence

Only silence will allow us life-transforming concentration upon God. It allows us to hear the gentle God whose only Son "shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice above the street noise (Matt. 12:19) It is this God who tells us that "in quietness and trust is your strength (Isa. 30:15 NAS).

~ Dallas Willard from The Spirit of the Disciplines

Jul 20, 2011

Time and Internet Addiction

Posting this summer has been haphazard because I've been away visiting family. Our families don't have internet access. So the only way I can get on is to find a hot-spot, usually at a coffee shop. But what I've discovered now as I did while I fasted from the internet and fb during lent is that I don't miss it.

Our internet addictions have robbed us of the life teeming about us. It's like we've entered Plato's Cave.  The world outside of the internet becomes the shadows. Addiction is a  strong word. But, I'll use it...even for myself.

It's hard for us to conceive of people that spend little to no time on-line. But if I think of it, I know many such people. Most of them are family members, older and younger than me. They're freer. I on the other hand work in an environment where part of my job is to correspond with people all day. Also, I am a writer, so sometimes I'm reading articles in the New York Times or other online venues, trolling for ideas and information. 

But, I find it all vexing. Because of the temptation to spend my time doing easy research, or catching up with others in quick bursts, I live a less full life.

I'd rather write letters and have letters written to me.

But letter writing is fading away because people feel they know all there is to know about us. They see it on FB.

The other vexing thing, the temptation I find is, that I start comparing myself to other writers instead of following Jesus. It's the comparison trap.

So as a spiritual discipline, for emotional and spiritual health, I am limiting my interent time now that I am home where I do have access.

Jul 7, 2011

Children Following Jesus in Ordinary Time

My friends Lacy Borgo and Ben Barczi are writing a curriculum of Christ-likeness for children through Renovare. They are both gifted writers. Lacy is especially gifted with communicating to children and in writing for parents who want to teach their children about Jesus. I look forward to their work when it comes out. Go ahead and check out her work here:



It is instructive for all adults whether or not you have children.

Jul 5, 2011

Clouds and Sky Over The Canary Islands

Passing on a most beautiful gift! Double click or paste into your browser!
A different astronomy and space science related image is featured each day, along with a brief explanation.

Jul 2, 2011

Climbing Trees To God

Shawn, Iliana, and I went on a walk this evening after dinner. We do that often. It's sort of our family tradition.We stopped to enjoy one of our favorite groves of trees nearby where we lived. We sat on a park bench and all looked up to the trees and the sky so we could experience them. The trees swayed gently in the breeze. Silence seeped into our souls. Peace. Iliana broke the silence with, "Mommy and Daddy, I want to climb a tree to God." What a beauty-full thought. Trees pointing upward, symbolically pointing toward God and the heavens.

Do we need to climb some trees to God? What turns our souls toward God?

Earlier this year I was in the Rocky Mountains at St. Malo Retreat Center. I remember listening to the wind sing through the trees. I was enamored with the chapel on the grounds, too. I remember turning to leave the chapel and looking at the ground as I climbed down the steps. I nearly forgot what beauty was smack in front of my face: Mount Meeker--nearly 14,000 ft. tall. They call those fourteeners. It was a fourteener and I was missing the peak and the beauty smack dab in front of me because I was looking down. I temporarily forgot to look up!

Gazing upon Mt. Meeker is like climbing a tree to God. It reminded me of strength--of God being our fortress. I could gaze and gaze and gaze at it. And I did during the retreat for almost an hour. I thought of many of the metaphors in Scripture that had to do with mountains. But my point is that I had to look up, to remember to look up, like we looked up at the trees this evening. Looking up and climbing to God.

As we go through our days, let us think about what turns our gaze upward toward God. Let us climb "these trees" to him. And let's remember, like I needed to remember, to look up!