A Weighty, Shining Glory


DSCN0404

[Remember, while I only post here about once a month, I am posting twice a week over at The Leadership Institute blog. Come over and visit!]

Ps 105:3-4 NIV, “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”

The name of Jesus is a name I can glory in. I understand that two metaphors underlying biblical words for “glory” are weightiness and shining. Glorying in his holy name is acting in ways that make the name of Jesus more weighty in my thoughts, feelings, choices, and actions. I can let my heart choose joy as I seek the Lord. And I can let the person of Jesus shine in my heart and mind, exposing the darkness of fear, anxiety, and distorted desire.

Throughout this day, in each task, project, conversation or whatever, I can look to the Lord and trust in his strength. I say to my soul, “What do you need?” I hear the answer, “Many things.” I respond to my soul, “What do you lack in him?” My soul has to admit, “Nothing.”

I can keep looking today into his face of love, delight, interest, and companionship. Glorious!

Click here to make any Amazon purchase in support of this blog.
This does not add to the cost of your order, but provides a referral fee to this ministry.
You can bookmark this link for future Amazon purchases.
[Click to learn more]

Celtic Prayers for St Patrick’s Day


On St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be nice to share here some simple, everyday prayers from the Christian Celtic tradition that have blessed me over the years.  They had prayers that acknowledged the presence of God in the simplest of human activities–milking a cow, stoking a fire, extinguishing a fire, rising and retiring, and embarking on a journey, to name a few. (And, again, remember that most of my blogging now is over at The Leadership Institute blog. You can subscribe to those posts on the linked page).

Below are some of those prayers:

(Excerpts from the Carmina Gadelica taken from The Celtic Vision. Edited by Esther de Waal. Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications, 1988. Page numbers in parentheses)

Rising Prayer (39)

Thanks to Thee, O God, that I have risen to day,
To the rising of this life itself;
May it be to Thine own glory, O God of every gift,
And to the glory of my soul likewise.

O great God, aid Thou my soul
With the aiding of Thine own mercy;
Even as I clothe my body with wool,
Cover Thou my soul with the shadow of Thy wing.

Help me to avoid every sin,
And the source of every sin to forsake;
And as the mist scatters on the crest of the hills,
May each ill haze clear from my soul, 0 God.

Smothering the Fire (77)

The sacred Three
To save,
To shield,
To surround
The hearth,
The house,
The household,
This eve,
This night,
Oh! this eve,
This night,
And every night,
Each single night.

Night Prayer (95)

I lie down this night with God,
And God will lie down with me;
I lie down this night with Christ,
And Christ will lie down with me;
I lie down this night with Spirit,
And the Spirit will lie down with me;
God and Christ and the Spirit
Be lying down with me.

Death Prayer (123)

O God, give me of Thy wisdom,
O God, give me of Thy mercy,
O God, give me of Thy fullness,
And of Thy guidance in face of every strait.

O God, give me of Thy holiness,
O God, give me of Thy shielding,
O God, give me of Thy surrounding,
And of Thy peace in the knot of my death.

Oh give me of Thy surrounding,
And of Thy peace at the hour of my death!

House Blessing (132)

Be Christ’s cross on your new dwelling,
Be Christ’s cross on your new hearth,
Be Christ’s cross on your new abode,
Upon your new fire
blazing.

Be Christ’s cross on your topmost grain,
Be Christ’s cross on your fruitful wives,
Be Christ’s cross on your virile sons,
Upon your conceptive daughters.

Be Christ’s cross on your serving-maid,
Be Christ’s cross on your knee of promise,
Be Christ’s cross on your coming generation,
Upon your prospering cattle.

Be Christ’s cross on your means and portion,
Be Christ’s cross on your kin and people,
Be Christ’s cross on you each light and darkness,
Each
day and each night of your lives,
Each day and each night of your lives.

Journey Blessings (154-55)

May God make safe to you each steep,
May God make open to you each pass,
May God make clear to
you each road,
And may He take you in the clasp of His own two hands.

May God shield you on every steep,
May Christ keep you in every path,
May Spirit bathe you in
every pass.

Encompassing (161)

The compassing of God be on thee,
The compassing of the God of life.

The compassing of Christ be on thee,
The compassing of the Christ of love.

The compassing of Spirit be on thee,
The compassing of the Spirit of Grace.

The compassing of the Three be on thee,
The compassing of the Three preserve thee,
The compassing of the Three preserve thee.

In what life situations might we develop simple prayers to acknowledge God’s presence, welcome His generous grace and offer ourselves to Him? Booting up a computer? Taking our morning shower? Sitting down to a meal? Preparing a make a phone call or send an email? How might you deepen your own moment-to-moment awareness of the real presence of Christ with you?

 

Click here to make any Amazon purchase in support of this blog.
This does not add to the cost of your order, but provides a referral fee to this ministry.
You can bookmark this link for future Amazon purchases.
[Click to learn more]

Morning Rhythms


morningrhythms

One of the practices that I find especially soul-nourishing is reading the daily lectionary in the mornings. The lectionary provides four readings: 1) a psalm, 2) an Old Testament reading, 3) a general reading from the New Testament and 4) a gospel passage. The daily lectionary provides a cycle of readings that last three years and covering a large portion of the whole Bible. I use a simple iPhone/iPad app by Jim Coates called “Daily Office Lectionary.” You can find daily readings on the “Revised Common Lectionary” page on the Vanderbilt Divinity Library webpage. I find reading the lectionary on iPhone or iPad a helpful way to engage the scriptures first rather than email, Facebook, web browsing and such. It has a way of redeeming what can become a distraction for me.

After I read, I will usually take a few moments to reflect and journal on a particular reading that captures my attention. As a writer, I am also a extensive journaler. Below are a few excerpts from my morning prayer journal from some mornings in June 2014:

TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST, HEAD ON OVER TO THE LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE BLOG.

Perfectionism Paralyzes


Perfectionism is damaging to the human venture because it cuts the nerve of all effort. If I refuse to participate in an operation until I can approve every part of it, I shall wait forever. This is the meaning of the initially mystifying aphorism to the effect that the ideal best is the enemy of the concrete good” (Elton Trueblood. The Validity of the Christian Mission. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1972, p. 46)

Isn’t that a great word from Elton Trueblood? To read a my reflections on it, come on over to The Leadership Institute blog. I’m blogging there a couple of times a week.

Click here to make any Amazon purchase in support of this blog.
This does not add to the cost of your order, but provides a referral fee to this ministry.
You can bookmark this link for future Amazon purchases.
[Click to learn more]

Spiritual Leadership: Lessons from Spiritual Direction


Here is a great summary of what makes a good spiritual director. These qualities are also useful for those of us in any form of spiritual leadership. You can easily change out the words “spiritual director” for “Christian leader.”

How is God growing these qualities in your own life and ministry?

The lines in bold come from Kenneth Leech’s revised version of Soul Friend (Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing, 2001, p. 84-85.)

“From the tradition, the spiritual director appears, first as a person possessed by the Spirit….”

The consensus among Christian spiritual writers is that the best mentors of the spiritual life are those who are uniquely gifted by God in this way. Those whose lives are growing in holiness and in intimacy with God are the ones who we can trust to give good spiritual guidance. A godly spiritual director is one in whom Christ is making Himself more and more fully at home.

TO READ MORE OF THIS, HEAD ON OVER TO THE LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE BLOG.

God’s Measureless Faithfulness


rainbowThe other day, in my morning lectionary reading, I came across a psalm line that captured my imagination.

He remembers his covenant forever,
      the promise he made, for a thousand generations…”
Ps 105:8 NIV

God has no problem with remembering. I can forget things moments after I’ve heard them or seen them. I am, sadly, pretty good at forgetting. It’s why I’m all the more impressed and impacted by the idea that God would make a promise that would still be on his mind a thousand generations from now.

Somehow, a thousand generations feels longer than forever. I can’t imagine 30,000 years. If my three sons have children, who have children, and this pattern continues for 998 more cycles, we could be in the year 32,014 (not allowing, of course, for the culmination of all things coming sooner). Even then, the Lord would remember a promise he might make to me about my generations to come. Isn’t that measureless faithfulness? Talk about an unhurried God.

And so it isn’t hard to imagine that God still has in mind promises he mades to Adam, or Abraham, or Moses, or David, and ways in which I am, today, a beneficiary and heir to the benefits of those promises, not by blood but by faith.

Click here to make any Amazon purchase in support of this blog.
This does not add to the cost of your order, but provides a referral fee to this ministry.
You can bookmark this link for future Amazon purchases.
[Click to learn more]

There are promises Gem and I feel God made to us many years ago early in our marriage. Some of them have not yet been fulfilled. I wonder if some of them might not be fully fulfilled for generations. Would I be O.K. with that?

Awakened by Reality


Hole in a wine barrel.

Hole in a wine barrel.

[As a brief reminder, I am blogging twice a week on our ministry blog at The Leadership Institute website. Many are sharing that they appreciate hearing different voices from our Journey community over there.]

I recently had a very hard conversation to which I wasn’t looking forward. Those are always hard, aren’t they? But experiences like this have a way of awakening us to reality in a way that “life as usual” doesn’t. We find we need to say something we had hoped to keep hidden. Or we find we need to hear something that feels quite unwelcome. Reality. And there’s nothing quite like reality to awaken us to the Real.

I’ve quoted from George MacDonald novels before. In his The Highlander’s Last Song (one of the first of his novels that I read when I discovered him), he describes a scene in which two main characters are threatened by a flash flood. The coldness of the water and the danger of drowning was bracing to them both. In comment, MacDonald observes:

“When we are most aware of fact‑ness, we are most aware of our need of God, and most able to trust him. The recognition of inexorable reality in any shape, or kind, or ways tends to rouse the soul to the yet more real, to its relations with higher and deeper existence. It is not the hysterical alone for whom the great dash of cold water is good. All who dream life instead of living it require some similar shock. Every disappointment, every sorrow, every tragedy of life can work the same way–can drive one a trifle nearer to the truth of being.” (MacDonald, George. The Highlander’s Last Song. Ed. Michael R. Phillips. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1986, p. 160-61.)

How much of our lives do we sleepwalk? How often are we daydreaming instead of actually living? A bracing splash of cold water in the face is a helpful metaphor for those moments when God awakens us to what actually is—in us, around us, in others.

A few months ago when I was in Nigeria for the Journey, I had a conversation with a pastor who had just escaped from a muslim extremist attack on his village. He had narrowly escape at least eight different times with his life in just a couple of days. At one point, he was in a cornfield surrounded by armed extremists. He was rather certain that he was facing his final moments in this life. He then prayed that God would deliver him and his family. Within moments, a hard rain began to fall that scattered the armed men. He made his escape. To hear this pastor’s story was bracing for me. That pastor gave me a gift that I am still cherishing.

What hard thing lately has felt like an unwelcome splash of very cold water in your face? What has happened to you that you resist with everything in you? How might that become the sort of encounter with reality that could awaken your soul to the Real?

Click here to make any Amazon purchase in support of this blog.
This does not add to the cost of your order, but provides a referral fee to this ministry.
You can bookmark this link for future Amazon purchases.
[Click to learn more]