The Real Value of Relationships


In writing An Unhurried Life, I found Kosuke Koyama’s book Three Mile An Hour God very helpful. I’ve posted other insights from him here in “Unhurried: Is Jesus Too Slow?” and “Living Life at the Pace of Love.” I think you’ll appreciate what he has to say here about the real costs of technology and the real value of human relationships:

“Our technological resourcefulness is making our life expensive and lonely. Technology is ambiguous. It can enrich and impoverish our life. Technology is like fire; it can cook rice for our enjoyment and nutrition and it can also reduce our house to ashes.

Can we bring about an inexpensive yet resourceful life style? One way—perhaps the only way—to do this would be to cultivate, increase and deepen human relationship. Human relationship is inexpensive yet resourceful. This is grace indeed. The biblical God is the God of a covenant relationship with man. This means that the whole biblical teaching is rooted in relationship. Money has ultimate meaning only if it enhances human relationship. The salvation the Bible is talking about is ‘inexpensive yet resourceful’. If salvation is expensive in terms of hard-cash, then something is wrong with that kind of salvation.” (p. 121.)

“For Peter ‘I have no silver and gold’ means ‘I always look at silver and gold under the overwhelming sense of gratitude to God’. Or ‘what God has provided is abundant for me. I have no need for more. And I say this joyously’. This is the apostolic secret. ‘I have no silver and gold’ he said. Yet he healed the man. The secret of Peter is ‘gratitude’ and ‘Jesus’. These two combined bring healing, hope and resurrection.” (p. 141.)

The Real Value of Relationships


I was again reviewing some of my reading from the recent past and came across these insights from Kosuke Koyama’s book Three Mile An Hour God. I’ve posted other insights from him here in “Unhurried: Is Jesus Too Slow?” and “Living Life at the Pace of Love.” I think you’ll appreciate what he has to say here about the real costs of technology and the real value of human relationships:

“Our technological resourcefulness is making our life expensive and lonely. Technology is ambiguous. It can enrich and impoverish our life. Technology is like fire; it can cook rice for our enjoyment and nutrition and it can also reduce our house to ashes.

Can we bring about an inexpensive yet resourceful life style? One way—perhaps the only way—to do this would be to cultivate, increase and deepen human relationship. Human relationship is inexpensive yet resourceful. This is grace indeed. The biblical God is the God of a covenant relationship with man. This means that the whole biblical teaching is rooted in relationship. Money has ultimate meaning only if it enhances human relationship. The salvation the Bible is talking about is ‘inexpensive yet resourceful’. If salvation is expensive in terms of hard-cash, then something is wrong with that kind of salvation.” (p. 121.)

“For Peter ‘I have no silver and gold’ means ‘I always look at silver and gold under the overwhelming sense of gratitude to God’. Or ‘what God has provided is abundant for me. I have no need for more. And I say this joyously’. This is the apostolic secret. ‘I have no silver and gold’ he said. Yet he healed the man. The secret of Peter is ‘gratitude’ and ‘Jesus’. These two combined bring healing, hope and resurrection.” (p. 141.)

(A repost from February 2010)

Why Go On Retreats?


[Update from the Dominican Republic. I arrived Friday afternoon and stayed the night at the home of a leader who will be in Journey Gen 1 here. He spoke no English. I’m useless with Spanish. It was a comedic conversation of one word efforts and lots of half-baked sign language! Today, we visited the Young Life camp here in Jarabacoa where we will host the Journey. It’s beautiful. I’ll try to post a picture or two here, perhaps after the retreat. Again, thank you for your prayers. And…I’m missing my youngest son, Christopher, who turns 13 today).

I recently read a book on the theme of retreats and came across this explanation of what a retreat can do for us:

“A retreat is, more than anything else, a time and space set apart in which to be very intentional about one’s relationship with God. It is a time not to do, but rather to be—to encounter God. It is a spiritual stock-taking: William Lonergan, in Laymen’s Retreats Explained, has written of the retreat experience as withdrawal from ordinary life, that by thought and prayer and under the expert guidance of a competent master, a man may reconsider the purpose of life here on earth, plan to employ such means as will make that end more secure, and strengthen his will to abide by those plans. (p.25)

If we can extrapolate from Lonergan’s noninclusive language (his book was published in 1930), we can see that there are three components to the spiritual task of the retreat: perspective (through withdrawal from ordinary activities), peace (a sense of who one is in relationship to God), and power (a plan through which one hopes to make changes in one’s life).” (Angell, Jeannette L. All Ground is Holy. Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing, 1993, p. 16, emphasis mine.)

Perspective. Peace. Power. These have proven to be among the many fruits of regular spiritual retreat. If you haven’t taken a retreat recently, I’d encourage you to consider it.

(A repost from May 2010)

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Looking Back: Do I Know What I Don’t Know?


Yesterday, I enjoyed the morning out in Riverside at a denominational office where The Leadership Institute is starting a spiritual transformation process in cooperation with the key leaders there. We will provide occasional strategic day retreats in the midst of the normal office schedule as a way of helping them in their desire and intention of making spiritual formation not only a core value, but an incorporated practice of their ministry culture. We’ve found that it takes building these shared practices into the actual ministry day, rather than assuming that everyone will make personal time for such practices (which, of course, we also hope they will do).

Today, I’ll be enjoying a personal retreat at the Prince of Peace Abbey in Oceanside, CA. There’s always a difference between leading a retreat and making my own retreat. And Prince of Peace is one of my favorite places to get away, pray, listen, rest, and simply enjoy God’s presence. I especially love sharing in praying the hours with the monks there. My spiritual direction training at the Pecos Benedictine Abbey caused me to appreciate the richness of this rhythm of life.

As for today’s post, I want to take you back to something Thomas Merton said about the wrong kind of ignorance where we think we know something when we really don’t.

Read more of “Do I Know What I Don’t Know?

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So Why Retreats?


Today I’m leading another “An Unhurried Day with Jesus” retreat in Irvine, CA. I recently read a book on the theme of retreats and came across this explanation of what a retreat can do for us:

“A retreat is, more than anything else, a time and space set apart in which to be very intentional about one’s relationship with God. It is a time not to do, but rather to be—to encounter God. It is a spiritual stock-taking: William Lonergan, in Laymen’s Retreats Explained, has written of the retreat experience as

withdrawal from ordinary life, that by thought and prayer and under the expert guidance of a competent master, a man may reconsider the purpose of life here on earth, plan to employ such means as will make that end more secure, and strengthen his will to abide by those plans. (p.25)

If we can extrapolate from Lonergan’s noninclusive language (his book was published in 1930), we can see that there are three components to the spiritual task of the retreat: perspective (through withdrawal from ordinary activities), peace (a sense of who one is in relationship to God), and power (a plan through which one hopes to make changes in one’s life).” (Angell, Jeannette L. All Ground is Holy. Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing, 1993, p. 16.)

Perspective. Peace. Power. These have proven to be among the many fruits of regular spiritual retreat. If you haven’t taken a retreat recently, I’d encourage you to consider it.

Buy a copy of All Ground Is Holy: A Guide to the Christian Retreat on Amazon.com

Share

The Real Value of Relationships


I was again reviewing some of my reading from the recent past and came across these insights from Kosuke Koyama’s book Three Mile An Hour God. I’ve posted other insights from him here in “Unhurried: Is Jesus Too Slow?” and “Living Life at the Pace of Love.” I think you’ll appreciate what he has to say here about the real costs of technology and the real value of human relationships:

“Our technological resourcefulness is making our life expensive and lonely. Technology is ambiguous. It can enrich and impoverish our life. Technology is like fire; it can cook rice for our enjoyment and nutrition and it can also reduce our house to ashes.

Can we bring about an inexpensive yet resourceful life style? One way—perhaps the only way—to do this would be to cultivate, increase and deepen human relationship. Human relationship is inexpensive yet resourceful. This is grace indeed. The biblical God is the God of a covenant relationship with man. This means that the whole biblical teaching is rooted in relationship. Money has ultimate meaning only if it enhances human relationship. The salvation the Bible is talking about is ‘inexpensive yet resourceful’. If salvation is expensive in terms of hard-cash, then something is wrong with that kind of salvation.” (p. 121.)

“For Peter ‘I have no silver and gold’ means ‘I always look at silver and gold under the overwhelming sense of gratitude to God’. Or ‘what God has provided is abundant for me. I have no need for more. And I say this joyously’. This is the apostolic secret. ‘I have no silver and gold’ he said. Yet he healed the man. The secret of Peter is ‘gratitude’ and ‘Jesus’. These two combined bring healing, hope and resurrection.” (p. 141.)

Buy a copy of Three Mile an Hour God: Biblical Reflections on Amazon.com

Do I Know What I Don’t Know?


IMG_7372“…the wrong kind of ignorance is the conviction that we can know exactly what is going on. Those who have too many programs and answers are absolutely blind and their ignorance leads them to destruction. Those who know what they do not know are able at least to see something of what is in front of their nose.” (Thomas Merton. Courage For Truth. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1993, p. 198)

There is a kind of certainty that is limiting instead of freeing. There are plans that assume at a practical level that God will not be intervening any time soon. Do ministries design meetings, services or gatherings that assume God has no likely intention of showing Himself or working among us? Does every gathering run, minute-by-minute, exactly the way we planned it? Is this a good thing? Just questions I ask myself.

And what Merton says about answers and programs hits home. Programs can drift towards becoming self-contained systems. Programs and systems usually seek to eliminate surprises, give standardized answers to all possible questions, and leave us with a process that runs on its own. Is this really what Jesus’ way was like? Wasn’t he continually surprising people? Doesn’t the life of the Spirit involve a certain amount of unpredictability (Consider John 3:8, for example)?

At the same time, I recognize the obvious need for godly processes and methods that can be learned and practiced so that we aren’t starting from scratch at every moment of our life. Do I really have to think again and again about how to brush my teeth? This is where spiritual disciplines and practices help train us in holy and lifegiving habits.

What responses or questions does all this provoke in you? I’d love to interact further with you.

Buy a copy of Courage For Truth: The Letters Of Thomas Merton To Writers on Amazon.com

Capturing Quiet Spaces for God (Part two)


IMG_2743Below are a couple more quotations from Ann Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea on the theme of solitude, silence, simplicity and open space for God.

“There are not too many activities or things or people, and each one, I find, is significant, set apart in the frame of sufficient time and space. Here there is time; time to be quiet; time to work without pressure; time to think; time to watch the heron, watching with frozen patience for his prey. Time to look at the stars or to study a shell; time to see friends, to gossip, to laugh, to talk. Time even, not to talk.” (Lindbergh, p. 116.)

Lindbergh writes these words from a retreat time away. How am I making time throughout the week, the month or the year for such space and time with God?

I have time for whatever it is I truly desire, what I am actually responsible for under God, and what is required of me in my place in life. Period. I waste a lot of time on other activities.

“The multiplicity of the world will crowd in on me again with its false sense of values. Values weighed in quantity, not quality; in speed, not stillness; in noise, not silence; in words, not in thoughts; in acquisitiveness, not beauty. How shall I resist the onslaught?” (Lindbergh, p. 119-120.)

Solitude and simplicity are two disciplines that help me cope with the onslaught of manyness and muchness. As you think about Lindbergh’s contrasts, how do they speak to your own sense of what matters in your life and work?

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Capturing Quiet Spaces for God (Part one)


IMG_2743I’ve shared a quotation in this blog before from a book by Ann Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea. Below are a few others on the themes of solitude, silence, simplicity and open space for God.

“For it is only framed in space that beauty blooms. Only in space are events and objects and people unique and significant—and therefore beautiful. A tree has significance if one sees it against the empty face of sky. A note in music gains significance from the silences on either side. A candle flowers in the space of night. Even small and casual things take on significance if they are washed in space, like a few autumn grasses in one corner of an Oriental painting, the rest of the page bare.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Gift from the Sea. New York: Pantheon Books, Inc., 1955, p. 114-115.)

I remember one of my guitar teachers in my high school years pointing out that my solos were too full of notes. He suggested that the empty spaces were just as important as the notes. Mature spirituality recognizes the same reality.

My life in Connecticut, I begin to realize, lacks this quality of significance and therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on; the time has been filled. There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well.” (Lindbergh, p. 115.)

Uncluttering is one of the gifts I’ve discovered in solitude and silence with God. I find that my mind and heart need enough space to breathe.

Buy a copy of Gift from the Sea on Amazon.com

Go to “Capturing Quiet Spaces for God–Part Two