Discerning Holy Desire


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Galatians 5:22-23, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

What does it look like on the with-God side of the battle? I enjoy how Peterson expands these nine fruits in The Message:

  • Love – “affection for others”
  • Joy – “exuberance about life”
  • Peace – “serenity”
  • Patience – “a willingness to stick with things”
  • Kindness – “a sense of compassion in the heart”
  • Goodness – “a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people”
  • Faithfulness – “We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments”
  • Gentleness – “not needing to force our way in life”
  • Self-control – “able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

The look of this side of the battlefield is very different from the other. Genuine caring. A deep Joie de Vivre. A heart and mind truly at rest. The ability to graciously live well with what is. A basic orientation that seeks the good of others. The ability to see the image of God underneath any distortion of creation or of people—original virtue. The resolve to stay with what is good and right and holy no matter how challenging the journey becomes. The restraint to never force anyone or anything. And the power to always choose life for myself and for those I care about. This is the side I want to choose!

(Read the rest of this post on The Leadership Institute blog)

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How Is Jesus Praying For You


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“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

I’m always impressed when I read this passage by the simple fact that Jesus has me in mind and heart. He is praying for me. He cares enough for each of us that he talks with the Father for our good.

(Continue reading on The Leadership Institute blog)

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Christ In Me


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“Rest content with the knowledge that [Christ] is His own Person, and with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is in your soul, substantially, really, literally; that He does everything you do with you, from the humblest duties to the highest. Your whole devotional life should consist in this companionship, accepted without ceremony, without intellectual or emotional effort, simply possessed and enjoyed, in perfect calmness and tranquility. You are to say nothing to our Lord except that which comes of itself, and that in the most homely words.” (Abbé Henri de Tourville. Letters of Direction. Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing, 1939, 2001, p. 78.)

This counsel seeks to make a simple statement true of every Christian: “Christ really is in you.” How deeply do I live the reality of this truth?

(Read more of this post on The Leadership Institute blog)

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The Ides of Lent


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Late last week, we reached the midpoint of the Lenten season. Traditionally, we think of Lent as 40 days, but it’s actually 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. I took a moment yesterday morning to journal my experience of Lent this year at the halfway point—the “ides.” (In the Roman calendars, the “ides” was the midpoint of a month. I’m using it here for the midpoint of Lent.) Enough history lessons.

(Read the rest of this post on The Leadership Institute blog)

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The Size of a Soul


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(I am posting here every week or two, but continue to post twice a week at http://www.SpiritualLeadership.com/blog/, the ministry blog of The Leadership Institute. I hope you’re visiting over there as well as here). 

I have been finding much help in Martin Laird’s two book, Into the Silent Land and A Sunlit Absence (p. 61) in my practice of silent prayer. They combine simplicity and experience in a very helpful way for me. Here was one insight that found some deep soil within me:

“St Teresa of Avila…insists that ‘The soul is vast, spacious, plentiful. This amplitude is impossible to exaggerate…. The sun at the center of this place radiates to every part.” (Martin Laird. A Sunlit Absence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 61.)

Do I feel (or trust) the reality of this statement? Or, do I feel my soul is a cramped, squeezed, musty place? Have I allowed hurry to narrow and shrink the spaciousness of my soul? If my soul is the place of Christ’s indwelling by the Spirit, what sort of place do I think would be fitting for his dwelling? A temple or a shack?

I have often spoken of our soul being so large that nothing is big enough to satisfy except God. Everything created fails to fill my soul. I want to be thankful for the gifts of relationship and goods that come to me, but they don’t find a home in my soul. Only God can do that.

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Celtic Prayers on St. Patricks 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?

 

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The Response of Faith


Bethlehem, Shepherd's Field[I’ve mentioned that I'm now blogging twice weekly  on The Leadership Institute blog. I will only be blogging here occasionally.

If you signed up on the TLI website to receive those posts by email, but haven’t seen emails coming through on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning from The Leadership Institute, we’ve had some glitches that we’re trying to solve.

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I came across this good word about our faith and God’s faithfulness. It helped me much. I hope it helps you, too.

“Our faithfulness, too, does not arise because we work at it. It is a gift just as much as our holiness is. Most people would probably assume that “faithfulness” describes how well we are doing. Let us pause to consider, however, on what our faithfulness rests. Am I faithful to God because I am a good “faith-er,” or because God is absolutely faith-worthy? God’s immense and gracious faithfulness, which sets me free to be faithful, and his mercy, which forgives me when I’m not–these aspects of his character evoke whatever faithfulness I evince. I do not believe because I am a good believer or good at believing. I believe because God is believable.” (Dawn, Marva & Eugene Peterson. The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000, p. 42.)

Are you tempted to see this as mostly theological nitpicking? I see this as exposing the basic dynamics of faith and faithfulness. Faith is a responding impulse, not an initiating one. My faith corresponds to God’s faithfulness. That’s how faith—how trust—works. I trust something because it is trustworthy. Putting unquestioned trust in a hardened criminal is no virtue. My trust isn’t the main point, but the trustworthiness of the one I trust.

On the other hand, I do not benefit from another’s trustworthiness if I do not entrust myself to them. Growing in trust isn’t about focusing on my faith but gaining a clearer vision of God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. This really is how it works, but I forget.

Reflection: How clear is your vision of God’s great faithfulness at this point in your journey?

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