A Little Treasure Hunting

The blog has been pretty quiet, visitors-wise, over the extended weekend, so I’m posting links to the last six posts and inviting you to choose one that sounds fitting for you today. If you’ve already read them all, I’ve included a good word from my recent spiritual reading at the end of this post:

  • A Victory of Transforming Love” – A great word from Elton Trueblood about how Christ and his kingdom won not by muscle-power, but by love.
  • Love at the Only Starting Point” – The great saints haven’t been the one climbing highest on the moral ladder, but the one who have let themselves be loved most by God (and loved Him back).
  • Practicing God’s Presence in the Midst” – No matter what we are doing, even if it is our spiritual practices, Brother Lawrence invites us to stop here and there to simply adore God in the depths of our hearts.
  • The Transforming Power of Remembering Our Stories” – When our lives, our communities, even our ministry organizations, begin to grow spiritually stale, remembering our early faith stories can be a source of refreshment and renewal.
  • The Problem of Functional Atheism” – When and where in my life do I forget God, assume God doesn’t care much, or even deny Him? It may not be where you think…
  • A Good Word: God Loves Beauty” – Frank Laubach reminds us that God created, and therefore loves what is beautiful. You might be surprised where God sees the greatest beauty in creation.

And, as I promised, here’s something I came across in my recent reading on the theme of unhurry:

“It is related of St. Catherine of Siena that one day she asked Our Lord why it was that God has so often revealed Himself to the patriarchs, prophets and Christian of early times but rarely did so in her own time. Our Lord replied that it was because they were devoid of self-esteem and came to Him as faithful disciplines to await His inspiration, allowing themselves to be fashioned like gold in the crucible or painted on by His hands like an artists canvas, and letting Him write the law of love in their hearts. But the Christians of her time acted as if He could not see or hear them, and wanted to do and say everything by themselves, keeping themselves so busy and restless that they would not allow Him to work in them. Note that Our Savior has already tried to warn us against such excess in the Gospel when He said When you pray, do not multiply words as the Gentiles do; for they think that by saying a great deal they will be heard. So do not be like them for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Saint-Jure, Fr. Jean Baptiste and Claude de la Colombière, S. J. Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence. Rockford: TAN Books and Publisher, 1983, p. 77-78.)

Buy a copy of Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence on Amazon.com

The Transforming Power of Remembering Our Stories

One expanding arena of our work in The Leadership Institute has been in organizational transformation. Recently, Paul Jensen pointed me to a quotation in Evil and the Justice of God (Intervarsity, 2006), where N. T. Wright says, “As Walter Wink has argued strongly in his major work on the powers, there is a great deal to be said for the view that all corporate institutions have a kind of corporate soul, an identity which is greater than the sum of its parts, which can actually tell the parts what to do and how to do it. This leads to the view that in some cases at least, some of these corporate institutions-whether they be industrial companies, governments or even (God help us) churches–can become so corrupted with evil that the language of ‘possession’ at a corporate level becomes the only way to explain the phenomena before us (p. 18, emphasis mine).”

Wright and Jensen are careful about explicitly referencing the demonic in relation to Christian organizations, but there can be patterns in any organization that look more unholy than holy, unloving than loving, ungraced than graced. Christian organizations may find themselves desiring a deeper integrity as it relates to practicing God’s presence in their individual and shared life together. One of the tools that has proven fruitful is remembering and telling founding stories. In any church, ministry, mission, movement or denomination, there are stories about how it came to be. There are often powerful God dynamics illustrated in those stories. Over time, a community may lose touch with those God stories. When this happens, a community forgets who they are and Who God is among them.

A basic biblical version of this dynamic is the way in which Israel told and retold their own Exodus story, remembering together (and often) how God had delivered them from centuries of slavery in a miraculous way through the Red Sea. Whenever they lost track of that story, they lost track of their unique relationship with God. So the story needed to be told and retold.

What are some of your own earliest God stories? How well do you remember them? How often do you remember them?

If you are in any kind of ministry leadership, what are some of the founding stories of your organization? How might remembering them be a source of renewal and encouragement for your community?

Buy a copy of Evil & the Justice of God on Amazon.com