No Life in Pretending and Hiding


8972007161_e92a2a8e68One of my morning habits lately has been to read and reflect on the lectionary passages for the day and journal any insights, questions, thanks, praise or prayers they might stir in. (I use a website lectionary and read the passages there).  This morning, a few lines from Psalm 32 were what I needed on this cool and overcast Orange county Saturday:

Ps 32:3-5 NRSV, “While I kept silence, my body wasted away
 through my groaning all day long. 
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
 my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
 Selah. Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
 and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’,
 and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
 Selah.”

Two selahs. This is worth really stopping and listening well. I need to let this soak in. When I pretend there is nothing wrong in or with me, I cease to abide. I wither and groan. I feel distant from divine favor. My strength dries up. Everything good that comes from communion with God evaporates. Pretending is life-draining.

But, as soon as I acknowledge what’s wrong, I come into the light, experience forgiveness and reconciliation, and enter back into the place of divine life, favor and grace. It’s about my connection or disconnection, nearness or distance from God. Humble confession restores my branch-connection to the vine.

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Thomas Kelly on Unhurry


runner_new_york_city_blog_2614In my morning spiritual reading recently, I came across this in Thomas Kelly’s A Testament of Devotion:

“In some we regret a well-intentioned but feverish overbusyness, not completely the depths of peace, and we wish they would not blur the beauty of their souls by fast motion.” (Thomas Kelly. A Testament of Devotion. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1941, p. 43.)

There is an overbusyness–a variety of hurry–that blurs the beauty of who God has made us. This is a holy and living unhurry, rather than the sludgy, sluggish unhurry of laziness, procrastination or acedia. We keep thinking that the more we do, the more we will produce. But there are plenty of things we might do that aren’t actually productive at all. Go slow enough to express the beauty of your soul—the beauty of the image of God.

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Book: Mansions of the Heart Study Guide


mansions-study-guide-cover-draft-jpegA few years ago, I reviewed and recommended Tom Ashbrook’s Mansions of the Heart, which is a book that helps us understand Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle. (Here’s my original review). It’s not exactly “Teresa for Dummies,” but it is a very helpful simplification or perhaps popularization of her spiritual framework.

Last week, Tom sent me a copy of his new Study Guide. Looking through the study guide, I appreciate some helpful additional reflection and discussion questions, and other resources to help individuals and groups take better advantage of the book. This would be a great summer learning process. Enjoy!

Click to buy a copy of the Study Guide on Amazon.

The Trouble With Techniques


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Our instinct as leaders is to find ways to do things that are productive and, hopefully, predictable. This is understandable and often helpful. But there is a technique mindset that can move us into an orientation in which we fail to pay attention to God’s guidance. Listen to some thoughts on this from Marva Dawn:

“As Jacques Ellul noted, it is not technology that is a problem; it is the Technique, the technological mind-set that deceives us into thinking that if we get just the right technological fix we will solve our problems. If we choose just the right style of music, we’ll attract great crowds to our churches. If we use the right methods, our youth group will grow. If we develop a good gimmick, our Vacation Bible School will be the fastest growing in the world!” (Dawn, Marva & Eugene Peterson. The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000, p. 97.)

(Click to read the rest of this post on http://www.SpiritualLeadership.com/)

 

Spiritual Practice: Scripture Journaling


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One of the spiritual practices that I find enriching is to simply journal insights that come as I reflect on a particular text. Here is a journal entry from some recent reflection on the story of Bartimaeus the blind man (Mark 10:46-52). I later used this passage to open a spiritual retreat for a ministry leadership team.

  • 46 – “They came to Jericho.” When Gem and I visited Israel, we drove from Jerusalem down the hill to the Dead Sea and saw Jericho, which is a bit south and east of Jerusalem. We did not visit. Jericho was, of course, a key story in Israel’s history. Through obedience and not through human strength the walls fell.
  • 46b – Bart was at the gate of the city that Jesus and his followers were exiting. A large crowd was also tagging along to see what Jesus would do.
  • 47 – Bart was begging for his sustenance. Apparently, he knew something of Jesus’ reputation because he cried out for more than alms. He asked for mercy from one he acknowledged as Son of David. This was a royal title–a kingdom title. He affirmed that Jesus was a rightful Lord (as opposed to Caesar or Herod).

(Click to read the rest of this post on The Leadership Institute blog. I am posting twice a week over there, FYI)

How Do You Balance Work & Rest


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A while back, a pastor wrote me and asked for a little help with finding rest and balance in his busy ministry life. I wrote him back a letter something like this. (I think this could help Christian leaders in other settings as well)

“Thank you for asking about cultivating healthier rhythms of rest and balance in your life. It’s an ongoing place of growth and development for me as well, especially as a “recovering speed addict” (not the drug, but the wound-up inner pace of my heart at times). Maybe these thoughts will help:

(Read more of “How Do You Balance Work & Rest” on The Leadership Institute blog. I am posting there twice a week now, together with others from our community.)

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How to Engage Lectio Divina: Forgiven Much


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One of the practices that has been personally meaningful, as well as an important element of our spiritual leadership training, is engaging the scriptures through Lectio Divina. (We’ve developed a free Lectio Divina resource you can download from our website.)

Read: Luke 7:36-50 NIV

Reading 1

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47 NIV)

An overflow of love is one of the signs of our awareness of great failing received by great acceptance.

(Read the rest of “How to Engage Lectio Divina: Forgiven Much” on The Leadership Institute blog).

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