Everything In God

July 27, 2022

Everything comes from God;

Everything happens through God;

Everything ends up in God.

Apostle Paul in Romans 11

I am letting these words infuse in my soul.

Infuse–like tea leaves in hot water. Release their essence throughout the water making a new substance.

Paul thinks of the beginning and the end and everything in between. And it’s all God.

That is why when we open the Bible, we must look for God. Reading with a receptive attitude where God can speak to us. Allow the infusion of the spirit within us making a new substance.

Why do we search for lists of things with which to compare ourselves with others? Everything comes from God. There is no comparison. There is only God in all.

Everything points toward God as we all move toward him.

Pierre Teilhard envisioned the end of the world with this quote from Paul, “God will be all in all.”

Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:28

Who are we to tell God what to do? We are nothing apart from God.

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.

The Power of And

July 20, 2022

Attitude determines almost everything.

Rosamund Zander writes about being in Florida on vacation. It was raining. She says that she could have thought “it is raining, but I cannot go to the beach.” Or, she could have thought, “it is raining, and I can now use this time to practice cooking a new recipe.” Check out The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life that she wrote and published with her husband Benjamin Zander.

It is all a matter of attitude. I can accept defeat. Fail to see the possibilities. Sit in my despair.

I can say and to open the way for an alternate experience. I can learn something new. Meet new people. Experience the place I’m in.

An obstacle appears as if from nowhere. It threatens delay or defeat in my project for the business or organization. I can say, I can’t do this now, and I can choose to do that.

Open up possibilities for the working of the spirit to open you to alternative experiences.

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

Productivity Misconceptions

July 15, 2022

I still remember the theme of the first personal development speaker at the first management conference I attended–TRY…EASY.

Try to do a good job. Try to get it done. But don’t kill yourself doing it.

This was probably 10 years before Yoda told Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not. There is no try.” But that’s a different story.

That speaker gave all the attendees a DayTimer planner. I’ve been through so many different systems over the following 40 years, I should have saved them and started a productivity museum. The last thing I used was computer-based called Nozbe, loosely based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. I even have a category on this web site for productivity.

Some people, perhaps many people especially in Silicon Valley of the 90s and aughts, following productivity guru Frederick Taylor thought of productivity as “how much more can I get done in my 70-hour work week”.

Tim Ferriss published The 4-Hour Work Week in 2007. It was sort of an anti-productivity book in the sense above. Cal Newport somewhat later published Deep Work. Both of these talked about getting the important things done while leaving time for hobbies, family, leisure, and the like. That is, until they were co-opted by the “how much more can I get done in my 70-hour work week” crowd.

These days I have a list of things I need to accomplish. I work on these for a set number of hours a day, then set aside other time for other things–reading, guitar, whatever.

We don’t need more. We need enough. Or, as a retired US Navy SEAL taught me, “Slow is easy; easy is fast.”

TRY…EASY

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.