Posts Tagged ‘strength’

Be Filled With the Fullness of God

August 2, 2016

I will be looking at Ephesians for a few weeks with a small group. We used to pride ourselves on how long we took going through a book. Now, they seem to rush through. The leader covered two chapters of rather dense thinking Sunday. I had to hold things up.

Yesterday I talked about unity in Chapter 2. Let’s look at Paul’s prayer for the people in Chapter 3 (14-20).

It’s a short prayer.

He says he bows his knees before the Father.

When I began to practice meditation a long time ago, we all thought you had to sit cross-legged with your hands on your knees and one finger and thumb brought together in a circle to complete the energy loop.

Nonsense. Lying flat on your back is an excellent posture. Sitting–any kind of sitting other than slouching in a soft chair or sofa–is an excellent posture. You can do cross-legged on a prayer cushion, a favorite chair, a park bench. Standing and walking are also excellent postures. Some people raise their hands. I feel ostentatious doing that. But that’s just me. I don’t like big displays.

…so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Paul introduces himself and his topic and then takes time out to pray. His prayer contains three petitions:

  • “that you may be strengthened in your inner being”
  • “that Christ may dwell in your hearts”
  • “so that you may be filled with the fullness of God”

Can you take a hint?

Envision what sort of person Paul wishes for us to be.

When Paul said “hearts”, that is the English translation into a term used by modern English-speaking people. Ancient peoples believed the seat of deep emotion came from deep within our gut.

Paul had just pleaded for unity in the church. Breaking down barriers between people. Then he prays (and repeats three times) that we have God filling us with power–I’m betting he’s thinking (using one of his favorite phrases) so that we can achieve that unity, break down those walls.

Seven Principles Of Thinking Like Da Vinci

November 11, 2015

Michael J. Gelb’s book, How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, reminds us of how to elevate our consciousness, creativity, and contribution.

I talked about curiosity as the first principle Monday. Let me quickly summarize the entire seven. Then go pick up the book and dive into the details. The bonus last chapter teaches how to draw like da Vinci–maybe not as good, but builds on his ideas.

(Gelb uses the Italian. Go figure.)

  • Curiosita–Am I asking the right questions?
  • Dimostrazione–How can I improve my ability to learn from my mistakes and experiences? How can I develop my independence of thought?
  • Sensazione–What is my plan for sharpening my senses as I age?
  • Sfumato–How can I strengthen my ability to hold creative tension to embrace the major paradoxes of life?
  • Arte/Scienza–Am I balancing Arte and Scienza at home and at work?
  • Corporalita–How can I nurture the balance of body and mind?
  • Connessione–How do all the above elements fit together? How does everything connect to everything else?

It is about body, mind, and spirit. You can, and probably should, incorporate these into your spiritual practices. Something to think about.

Confronting People The Right Way

August 31, 2015

There was a meeting at church. Suddenly one woman spoke up aggressively. She was complaining about someone who evidently was in the worship band at one of the services.

She was upset about the person’s lifestyle. “He’s living in sin, and he knows it. And he needs to stop, or else stop coming here. And he’s even on the platform.”

She had confronted the person, but he did not change.

I was thinking about confrontations such as this over the weekend. Must have been a book I’ve been reading. But the story of this meeting returned. In full color. In my mind. With the harsh judgementalism.

And I wondered, just how did that confrontation go? I’m guessing it was not done in a gently and loving manner. Given that the meeting was some time after the confrontation, I’m also guessing that the confrontation had no effect.

People do need to be confronted at times. Addicts need someone to stop enabling them and tell them no and tell them where an AA meeting is. At a smaller scale, someone you know is about to make a bad decision. Giving your point of view can be helpful.

But there are ways to do it. 

The judgemental, angry, finger-in-the-face “you’re going to hell” confrontation will seldom have a desired effect.

I’ve found on the soccer pitch that watching my tone of voice as a referee helps immensely. When I lose my cool and shout something stupid, guess what, I don’t obtain a desired change from the person.

Saturday, I had a high school boy get too aggressive on a foul. I called the foul, checked the fouled player quickly for injury, then made a public, but quiet, gesture and word to the player. He nodded. He understood that I was trying to help him curb his aggressiveness a little so he could stay in the game.

It’s all in the approach. When to be gentle, when to be tough, when to be a little of both.

But I’ve never found the in-your-face method beneficial.

Works the same for evangelism.

Victim Attitude Is Unbecoming Of A Disciple

August 13, 2015

Donald Miller wrote some good novels before he turned into a marketing guru. Blue Like Jazz, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years,  Searching For God Knows What, Through Painted Deserts are all worth a read.

He just posted an article on his blog talking about how some Christians like to play the victim card.

I have thought often about people I know (quite a few) who identify themselves as Christian, but they always are looking through a lens of being underdogs, underappreciated, misunderstood, persecuted, or something. And this is all in the USA!

Miller used the word victim to identify this syndrome. 

He starts looking into people who like to be a victim as an outlook on life. He may stretch it by saying it gives them power, but in a way it does give them some leverage over some people.

Read his post. Think about it. I just spent quite a bit of time today contemplating his thoughts.

I relate to when I was a little kid at the height of the Cold War. All I heard from the old farmers around town was how the Soviets were going to overrun the country (so they all had their .22 rifles and 12 ga shotguns and were going to stand up to the Russian tanks that were coming). 

Even at 7 or 8 years old, I thought that was a ridiculous picture. For two reasons. First even as a youngster, I seemed to realize about firepower. But secondly, I kept wondering why these upstanding patriots had so little confidence in our armed forces that it was a sure bet that we’d be overrun.

And the same thing with Christians. (100% of the people I grew up with identified as Christian.) They always talked about how Communist Atheists would put an end to Chrisianity. 

I guess it was just pure naiveté of someone not yet 10 who thought that if God is so powerful, why should we think that some group would put him out of business.

Even so today. I have confidence in God. I also know (learning from the New Testament) that society at large is composed of many different types of people. It is foolish to think that everyone around us in society is exactly like us. 

What we learn from Revalation aside from all the over-thinkers looking for all manner of fortune telling, is that the game is over. God wins. Jesus leads the world to God.

So, why do we (some of us) go around acting like victims. In America, we don’t have a clue. Why not try living with our brothers and sisters in Iran, Iraq and many other places. They are fighting for their very lives even as I write this. But here? We have money. We have comfortable lives. No one shoots at us as we go to church. No one arrests us simply for our faith in God.

We just need to help those who are. It is not becoming to act like a victim. It is becoming to be strong in our faith.

Top Ten Leadership Commandments

June 26, 2015

Organizers of the conference a couple of weeks ago gifted us with some books. One of mine was “The Top Ten Leadership Commandments” by Hans Finzel, President and CEO of WorldVenture.

The book itself is fairly autobiographical, but the list is good as lists go. The sub-theme of the book is taking leadership lessons from Moses and extrapolating to present day problems.

The Top Ten:

  1. Thou Shalt Cling to the Vision
  2. Thou Shalt Not Serve Thine Own Ego
  3. Thou Shalt Practice Servant Leadership
  4. Thou Shalt Be Opposed, Resisted, and Misunderstood
  5. Thou Shalt Have a Life
  6. Thou Shalt Sweat the Small Stuff
  7. Thou Shalt Spend Time in the Tent (get away and meditate)
  8. Thou Shalt Lead to Leave
  9. Thou Shalt Never Give Up
  10. Thou Shalt Keep Thine Eye on the Prize

Those of us who have been a leader of something during our lives can look at this list and cringe in remembrance of things we missed. Maybe getting a little too full of ourselves. Maybe ignoring details. Maybe not taking time to refresh.

One of the hardest, at least for me, would be number 4. “I’ve thought this out, what do you mean that you don’t think it’ll work????” Or, worse, when a clash of personal agendas takes everyone’s eyes off the prize.

In the end, Finzel is optimistic and encouraging, even when acknowledging the pain. Go forth and lead!

A Call To Men To Be Clear

May 12, 2015

first published April 9, 2015

Adam should have spoken. He didn’t. We’re all screwed.

That is the problem statement of “Men of Courage” by Larry Crabb and others. Men are too often silent when they should speak up.

I had the privilege of working as part of a small team of local men who had an idea for a men’s conference. Call to Convergence was held this past weekend. We had no clue how many men would show, but we picked 75 as a good target number. 70 registered. It was a good weekend.

Our principle speaker used that book as the starting point of his talks. Men are called to speak up, to share. Maybe not sharing every emotion like women seem to be wired to do. But, as one person said after the Friday night talks, it’s all about transparency. Not hiding.

The solution part of the book calls men to mentoring. We are called to intentionally find someone who could use a mentor and take action. Invite someone for breakfast or lunch. Ask. Listen. Guide. Help them on their journey.

By the way, we live in a small county. Population of about 56,000. To have 70 people come out in the snow was a great blessing. We all felt that the event wasn’t about us, but about God. And God blessed the gathering. 

Men asked about what to do during the year until we have the second one. Always a great sign when people ask for action steps.

Reading the Bible

By the way, you might want to re-read the story of Adam, Eve, the serpent, and the metaphorical tree. 

When we read the Bible (or anything, really), often we let past memory guide us and fill in the blanks, so to speak. Did you realize that Adam was present during the whole episode? Not my memory either. When I read it later after learning about the story, my memory took over and I didn’t read the passage clearly.

The passage clearly implies that Adam was right there. It doesn’t say that Eve went to him sometime later. It says she turned to him and offered him the fruit. Adam heard the whole conversation. Surely he knew better. But he didn’t speak up.

Two lessons:

Speak up when you see someone going off the path.

When you read the Bible, clear your mind and read what it really says.

Working Your Way Through Suffering

April 23, 2015

She was dealing with a series of emotionally unstable people. Whether she saw one of them, or saw their caller ID on her phone, or saw an email–it all brought a tightness in her gut and constricted her heart. A psychologist might say that her “fight or flight” biology was activiated.

Every day, the scene repeated.

Sometimes, though the others’ emotions were sanguine. Sometimes, despondent. Sometimes, even belligerent. 

She suffered through every day. Never knowing what she’d be facing from loved ones and acquaintances.

Sometimes our sufferings are simply (if I can say that) seemingly intractable problems. Sometimes as a result of a tragedy that touches our lives–discovery of serious illness, death of a loved one. For some of my readers, it is the constant fear of facing evil in the body of fanatic anarchists who might torture and kill.

Do not ask why, advises an ancient Celtic Christian priest. 

He says that by working through your problems and sufferings, you will become stronger and endure. Without going through suffering, most of the transforming power of the cross would disappear. In the struggle, we can overcome through the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

As Jesus said to the church of Laodicea according to John in the Revelation, “To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throune, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

A Call To Men To Be Clear

February 23, 2015

Adam should have spoken up. He didn’t. We’re all screwed.

That is the problem statement of “Men of Courage” by Larry Crabb and others. Men are too often silent when they should speak up.

I had the privilege of working as part of a small team of local men who had an idea for a men’s conference. Call to Convergence was held this past weekend. We had no clue how many men would show, but we picked 75 as a good target number. 70 registered. It was a good weekend.

Our principle speaker used that book as the starting point of his talks. Men are called to speak up, to share. Maybe not sharing every emotion like women seem to be wired to do. But, as one person said after the Friday night talks, it’s all about transparency. Not hiding.

The solution part of the book calls men to mentoring. We are called to intentionally find someone who could use a mentor and take action. Invite someone for breakfast or lunch. Ask. Listen. Guide. Help them on their journey.

By the way, we live in a small county. Population of about 56,000. To have 70 people come out in the snow was a great blessing. We all felt that the event wasn’t about us, but about God. And God blessed the gathering.

Men asked about what to do during the year until we have the second one. Always a great sign when people ask for action steps.

Reading the Bible

By the way, you might want to re-read the story of Adam, Eve, the serpent, and the metaphorical tree.

When we read the Bible (or anything, really), often we let past memory guide us and fill in the blanks, so to speak. Did you realize that Adam was present during the whole episode? Not my memory either. When I read it later after learning about the story, my memory took over and I didn’t read the passage clearly.

The passage clearly implies that Adam was right there. It doesn’t say that Eve went to him sometime later. It says she turned to him and offered him the fruit. Adam heard the whole conversation. Surely he knew better. But he didn’t speak up.

Two lessons:
Speak up when you see someone going off the path.
When you read the Bible, clear your mind and read what it really says.

Getting Fit For God’s Work

November 13, 2014

This spring began a season of stress and frustration. A business deal with which I was uncomfortable from the beginning went rapidly downhill over the winter. By spring, I was looking for a way out.

Travel is not always that bad. But when you combine personal travel on top of business travel, it means there is no time for pause. For rest and reflection.

On top of that, my soccer responsibilities grew and became frustrating in some regards and just plain hard work in others. And I had taken on responsibilities at church during a lull period in my life. Well, that lull went away 😉

As a result, my ability to work out decreased. My ability to sit still and focus during meditation withered. Still, I accomplished much.

The climax was three plus weeks of being home only three days — getting home from a business trip only to take a family trip. Most of the time I could not exercise. At my age, you deteriorate rapidly.

I noticed the first week back. Attempting to run daily. Back into my Yoga routine. My muscles ached. Constantly.

But the next week was much better. By the third week back into routine, I was running better, practicing Yoga better, feeling tight and fit.

It is no wonder that Paul often invoked the images of physical activities, of athletes, in his spiritual development messages. You have to work at it. And if you take some time off, your spiritual muscles will ache and protest until you get back into the habit and start feeling fit spiritually.

Read the letter to the Romans. Don’t stop and analyze each verse. Just grasp the broad strokes of what Paul is laying out. He is teaching us about spiritual development. First we were away from God living in our lives as we saw fit (sinners). Then something happened, some consequence of our actions impacted us. Then we saw that through Jesus God’s grace was available to us. We accepted, Gods grace was poured out on us, and we began to live the with-God life basking in the Spirit.

Just as we work at getting back into physical shape, we can also fall out of Spiritual shape. We work at it through study and prayer and practice and find that we have renewed our strength in God.

Be Assertive But Kind

October 14, 2014

Proverbs 11: 16b-17 draws two pairs of contrasts. But the pairs also contrast.

The first pair is timid and aggressive. To be timid is a negative attitude and stance toward life. You let things happen to you. To be aggressive (I don’t know Hebrew, but today we might well call it assertive) is to go out into the world making things happen

The other pair is kind and cruel. Kind, of course is the positive attitude and cruel is the negative.

So Proverbs, Wisdom teaching, tells us that we should be strong and go out and accomplish, but we should do it in such a way as to not trample down others doing it.

This sounds much like the teachings of Jesus, who took most of his teaching directly from Proverbs, who expected people to be strong, to be aggressive. But at the same time he taught that we should put others ahead of ourselves. We should think about the other person in the relationship or the situation. What’s in it for them–not what’s in it for us.

We have had cycles of preaching throughout the 2,000 years of Christendom that has told people, especially poor people, to be timid, meek, humble (in the sense of servitude, not the sense of strength yet putting others before us). That teaching has led to some horrible revolutions in the past. It’s a teaching ignored by the terrorists who call themselves part of Islam.

Is it an attitude we have? There are many today who believe in aggressive in its negative connotation and cruel, at least in attitude toward others. I’ve met several.

I pray we cultivate having a strong personality–one that’s so strong and confident that we can gladly put others before us.