I have been introduced to the thinking and ministry of Brad Jersak by a friend. I began listening to podcasts where he was interviewed and I have been wonderfully impacted by his thoughts thus far.Continue reading “The charismatic and contemplative traditions”
“The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men! A weird life it is, indeed, to be living always in somebody else’s imagination, as if that were the only place in which one could at last become real!” — Thomas Merton, Seven Storey Mountain
In Christ, we are gifted with an amazing possibility every day. Continue reading “The gift we are given every day”
My Advent reading got me stalled… again. That is the beauty of Scripture for me. I can be humming along in my reading plan and then come to a screeching halt because of a passage where the Holy Spirit will say, “Stop here.” Continue reading “Discipline is necessary”
The daily noise can distract. Social media. Media. All of it.
I wake up and somehow have to get past asking:
“What am I mad at today?”
“What am I protesting today?”
“What coffee can I brew without bringing down the wrath of some group?” (Oh, wait, HOW I brew it will probably incur someone’s wrath… Oh, wait… the Surgeon General said what about coffee? What was that latest study?”
“What place can I buy lunch without incurring wrath?”
It’s a daily routine of realizing the world is simply mad at something.
Unless… we make a choice. And it IS a choice.
The familiar kitchy phrase has truth: It’s not what happens TO you… it’s what happens IN you.
It’s tough cutting through the noise, but if my life is centered first, then the noise is more manageable. There is just noise I can put to the side. There is noise that has to be handled. There is noise that I should pay attention to in this world. I don’t stick my head in the sand and ignore the political scene, the shooting in Orlando, the issue of immigration, gay rights, etc.
But when I’m beginning my day through centering everything in Christ, I know how to move more carefully through the noise. Discernment is added. Peace reigns.
I don’t have to “be mad” at anyone. I do not walk in fear any more. It doesn’t mean I’m avoiding anything. It just means I know where my ultimate anchor lies. The depth of Christ prepares me for all this is in front of me for this day.
The noise is there to greet us every day. Staying centered must become the absolute necessity as we navigate this crazy world.
- Stay centered in the Word. There is a daily habit that can be used. Currently I am following a basic Lectionary Reading to keep me in all parts of the Bible.
- If I am needing a more disciplined pattern of prayer, I can utilize an online daily routine that helps me focus in if I am not using a regular prayer list.
- I stay with some type of spiritual reading and try to get some sort of reading in every day. Currently, that is N.T. Wright’s incredibly challenging work, Surprised by Hope.
Those particular things done first in my day have been useful to help me sort out the noise.
Let me know how you manage the noise in your world as well.
“Spiritual disciplines are not a gauge of my spiritual maturity. The disciplined person is not someone who does a lot of disciplines. The disciplined person, the disciple, is someone who is able to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.” — John Ortberg, Living in Christ’s Presence.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus did not say, “IF you give…” He said, “WHEN you give…”
We can hassle over tithe or some mandatory number, like 10%. But, why?
The point is GIVING.
Why give at all? Giving is a bold statement, which is why I try to push myself past an arbitrary number like 10%. Giving says, “Lord, I worship you with this part of my life. I think I need ALL that I have earned, but I am releasing this to you because I trust you for all I need.”
We are releasing our responsibility in finances to say, “God, you invited me to test you in this. Here it is. It is now your responsibility.”
God invited it. I don’t think he is about to let us down!
1 “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do- blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. (Matt. 6:1-4, NLT)
The challenge in any discipline is doing it for KINGDOM purposes, and not our own purposes. It is an incredibly difficult challenge to keep our own egos out of the equation.
The discipline of giving should bring us to a place where we learn to look to the needs of others first and then find our needs met by our Father in heaven.
The power of giving is not found in the amount we give and how loudly we proclaim that in front of others. If we want to do it that way, we have our reward right then. This, of course, doesn’t seem to bother a lot of people. They like the attention.
But that isn’t the Kingdom of God. If the Father is to be pleased, then we learn to give in a way that takes attention away from us and focuses on the need and the Kingdom.
Our social media crazes have truly challenged us on this concept. We do everything for the photo op, and the Facebook post, and the Twitter post… etc.
Let this be our challenge in the days ahead: find the opportunity to give to some need without anyone knowing. Don’t post it on Facebook. Don’t tweet it. Don’t even take a picture. Double check to see if anyone else is watching… and make sure as much as possible no one is watching. Then give.
Last year I watched a student from the college where I teach step out to give to a homeless person. She had no idea anyone else was watching. When I thanked her later for the incredible generosity, she was a bit embarrassed. She didn’t do it for the recognition. She had done it out of compassion in that moment.
Give like no one is looking. Let it tear down the idols of self-promotion. Let it build the Kingdom.
True freedom isn’t found in lack of discipline. True freedom is found as a result of discipline.
Our lazy view of Christianity has reduced us to saying a prayer of salvation to get our “Get out of hell free” cards.
The call of the Kingdom of God is freedom. Freedom to obey. Freedom to walk in the power of the Spirit. Freedom to hear the voice of God. Freedom from bondages and addictions.
When Jesus gives the command to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48) it comes with the expectation that is possible.
The HOW of that comes in Matthew 6. When we learn to walk in discipline, we find the true freedom of the power of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus gives us three examples of disciplines.
Somehow, we are deathly afraid of disciplines… especially fasting. Although there could be some people I know who are very allergic to giving as well. 😉
It is when we learn the disciplines that tune out the junk of this world and tune us in to hear the heart of God that we find true freedom.
When we walk with purpose in the spiritual disciplines, a hunger for the Kingdom is created and cultivated. We begin to see that the command to “be perfect like your heavenly Father” is a serious command and has serious resources to follow that command. We begin to truly align our allegiances with the kingdom of God. As our spirits are aligned with the will of the Kingdom, we will find ourselves more focused in our prayer and in our living.