Archive for the ‘Disciplines’ Category

Each Day As It Comes

July 28, 2022

Leaders of the early Christian church faced a problem. Belief that Jesus would return any day soon to establish his kingdom on earth ran through the movement like dropping red dye in a glass of water. That led to problems. No one wanted to work. They just sat around singing and talking…and waiting.

Paul directly addressed the problem. Other writers did indirectly.

We need to live as if Jesus could come at any moment; yet, we also needed to live not knowing if it would be days or years (they didn’t comprehend millennia back then).

Substantial numbers of Christians today feel no urgency toward fulfilling God’s instructions about stewardship of the earth and its inhabitants because Jesus could be (will be?) returning any day now.

I go with ancient wisdom proved out through millennia. Live each day at a time. If I die tomorrow, so be it. I’m ready. If not, I have planned for living longer, too. But for now, I do what’s best for today. Not living in recrimination of the past; not worrying about tomorrow. I work today and let yesterday and tomorrow take care of themselves.

Searching The Scriptures For God

July 26, 2022

The first generation of Jesus-followers passionately scoured the Hebrew scriptures, not looking for rules to regulate their lives and the lives of everyone around them, but for all the signs of Jesus they could find.

They were trying to find Jesus in the scriptures.

When we go to the scriptures, what are we looking for?

Rules to impose on others–and maybe ourselves if it’s convenient?

God?

I suggest the best use of our time and energy searching through the Bible lies in discovering God and Jesus and the Spirit. Open the words and hear God speak to you.

Who Is Smarter Than God?

July 25, 2022

Certainly, not I.

Like many young liberal and feminist students of long ago, I had a general dislike of the Apostle Paul. He was seen as the standard bearer of male domination/female subservience, apologist for American slavery (and therefore against civil rights), and homophobe.

Then I became a scholar of Paul. With that a deep appreciation of what he was trying to do.

I even started to reply to someone I know on Facebook who said Paul supported male domination of women. He asked me to prove from scripture that he was wrong. I thought of a dozen things immediately. It’s never a good thing to reply on Facebook. I came to my senses just in time. No one was convinced of error on Facebook. Ever.

This thought came to me recently that we spend too much time and energy thinking and memorizing from the Bible and not enough time living out Jesus’ commands–that we love one another.

I thought about that guy who was proclaiming how he should be the master of his wife’s body and soul (good luck doing that!) when I came across this teaching of Paul from Romans:

Is there anyone around who can explain God?

Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?

Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice?

Romans 11

I have met such people. I have read the works of such people. I have read of their failures in the news.

The next paragraph from Paul:

Everything comes from him;

Everything happens through him;

Everything ends up in him;

Always Glory, Always Praise

Romans 11

Every morning I sit quietly with God listening for advice and wisdom. I don’t tell God what to do. I don’t assume I know the mind of God. I wait upon God with attentive ears.

Why Meditate?

July 22, 2022

Mindfulness meditation infuses all manner of psychological and New Age counseling. Varieties include thousands of apps on your phone, Zen, Yoga, and, yes, our Christian tradition going back to ancient times.

Regular meditation of whatever variety will change your personality. You become calmer. Centered. Aware of people and circumstances. That has been my experience. If your meditation is focused on God, then you are given occasional glimpses of life with God.

Spiritual writer Eberhard Arnold points to another benefit coming from meditation, if we but dare to go there.

Eberhard Arnold

The only justification for fleeing the confused and hectic whirl of contemporary culture so as to withdraw into the inward self is if doing so will increase our fruitfulness. The goal must be to unite with eternal powers in order to gain a strength of character that is ready to be tested in the stream of the world and is equipped to meet the demands of our day. Our watchword is not “Retreat!” but rather “Gather for the attack!” 

Eberhard Arnold

We retreat into the silence of meditation to prepare ourselves for life outside when we meet people who are at odds with us. How will we deal with people and circumstances? With a solid core of spiritual strength, we can face the challenges.

Debilitating Power of Stress

July 21, 2022

I have lived through many stressful times. For some, the pandemic and economic slowdown may be their first. Some feel stress constantly from just trying to survive.

Check the Christian scriptures. Jesus dealt with daily stresses, but then there was the night before he died when he was sweating blood. He could see what was ahead. That’s stress.

Or Paul having rocks thrown down at him and escaping a city in the dead of night hoisted over the city wall and running away. And other pillars of the faith like James and John and Peter. They all experienced times of great stress.

Yet, the message of them all was founded on the fruit of the spirit that included peace, joy, calm.

Living in the spirit and experiencing that fruit is often not easy. Stresses large and small eat away at our inner balance.

Even so, follow their example of periodic withdrawal to have silence and alone time with God heals. Awareness of God’s surrounding presence helps us through those times.

We must not neglect intentional time to connect. Probably more often than five minutes every morning.

It Blows This Way and That

July 19, 2022

Sitting on the patio this morning with my bowl of oatmeal and blueberries and a cup of coffee, a breeze mitigates the penetrating morning sun. It comes from my right side. Then ceases. Then from the front. Switching again to the side. Then off. Then on.

Poets and spiritual writers have noticed this for millennia. It also relates to humans.

Sometimes we blow hot. Sometimes cold. Sometimes we are active on a cause or project. Sometimes we quit. We are enthused; then withdrawn.

How is anyone to know where we stand? What is our anchor? Are we living with God? Or, are well living for ourselves alone?

That’s the purpose of the cup of coffee on my morning table. I sip and pause and contemplate the beauty around me. And I open myself to any whisper that may come from God in that shifting breeze. What are my guiding words for the day?

Perhaps to be the stability within the vicissitudes of life around me.

What Are We Doing With Our Time

July 18, 2022

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’

Into the future

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’

Into the future

Steve Miller Band

My morning reading took me to the Stoic philosopher who sounds almost Christian at times. Seneca talked about how we easily allow others to take our time. We rush to meetings. Take trips we didn’t need. Say yes when no was a better answer.

What are we doing with that most precious of resources?

We must determine what is a waste of time and what is valuable. Sometimes just sitting is valuable. Sometimes listening overrides talking. Working on the most important task has become a time management proverb–but, make it what is most important to us, not to someone else.

Pete Seeger composed a song laden with meaning from the Hebrew book of Ecclesiastes popularized by The Byrds

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)

There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)

And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

Pete Seeger

Know our time.

Know our season.

Know our purpose.

Maybe like the Steve Miller Band in the next chorus of the song

I want to fly like an eagle

To the sea

Fly like an eagle

Let my spirit carry me

I want to fly like an eagle

Till I’m free

Steve Miller Band

Right and True

July 14, 2022

If it’s not right, don’t do it;

If it’s not true, don’t say it.

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and Stoic

Preacher and teacher Andy Stanley teaches this simple thought, “Pay attention to the tension.”

There is a moment, often fleeting, between the impulse to do something and the action.Sometimes in that moment there arises a tension within us. This may not be the right thing to do. How often we ignore that tension, do the deed, then regret it.

If it is not right, do not do it. How, by paying attention to the tension.

The Apostle James teaches how the tongue is the mightiest muscle in the body. Just like a small rudder steers a great ship, the small tongue guides us causing all manner of mischief. Sometimes just before we hit “post” on social media when we are passing along something we heard, Stanley’s tension pulls at the back of our mind. If we pause before we post, we can save ourselves grief.

If it is not true, do not say it. Or post it on social media.

Teaching The Next Generation

July 13, 2022

This morning two sparrows were teaching their offspring how to hunt and peck for food and small pebbles for its gizzard.

Later during my walk when I got to the pond an adult egret had its almost adult young out for a fishing lesson.

Why do humans have so much difficulty teaching their next generation?

What are you doing about it?

The Carbon Almanac

July 12, 2022

There is a spiritual discipline seldom discussed–being a steward to the earth. Today, I address a project that a few hundred people have worked on for a year. It’s called The Carbon Almanac.

The book launches today. I’ve purchased a few. Do yourself a favor and get one. This post is from the launch letter.

The official launch of the Carbon Almanac is here, and we are thrilled to share the news with you. And we’d like you to share the news with people you care about.

A book that brings you just the accurate facts–without the rhetoric, slant, or agendas–to help you be well-informed and make better decisions about climate change. Because nobody needs more guilt, anxiety, or labeling.

Are you tired of hearing media pundits debate climate change’s dire consequences without providing facts to help you make your own decisions?

Are you having a hard time finding credible and authoritative info that is easy to access and share, and that regular people (non-climate-change-experts and non-scientists) can understand?

Do you want to talk about climate change with confidence?

Do you want to take action to help climate change but don’t know where to start?

Do you want to join a worldwide community of people who care?

If so, your search is over: The Carbon Almanac is the only book built to share with information you’re looking for – all footnoted.

It’s been designed to be a clear, approachable, and non-partisan collection of facts that can lead you to understand climate change and make a positive and meaningful impact.

Organized by Seth Godin, entrepreneur and author of over 20 best-selling books, and created by a team of more than 300 volunteers–people like you in more than forty countries, The Carbon Almanac is:

  • An organized collection of facts, tables, history, quotes, explanations, illustrations, and cartoons with the concise data you need to form a knowledgeable opinion
  • A non-controversial, reliable, quick reference source that you can share with others without the noise, overwhelm, and hidden agendas (not to mention the confusion and boredom!) that most materials bring
  • A shared, fixed document that permits our communities to connect and to discuss

The Almanac sparked a storm of creativity which had as a result a series of podcasts, a kids book, an educators guide, the Daily Difference Action e-mail series, a LinkedIn course, a board game and many more. Find everything at thecarbonalmanac.org.

Buy the book, share the book and let’s start the conversation. It’s not too late.