Where I failed after 9/11

It’s been 19 years. I can still remember where I was sitting. The memories of halting the retreat where I was attending, huddling around the one TV with bad reception, the shock… calling my family…

Coming out of that time I also knew the word I had from the Lord: “Prepare the Body. The world is different. Get back to discipleship.”

This is where I failed. Miserably.

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Book Review: Be Kind to Yourself

Book Review: Be Kind to Yourself by Cindy Bunch

The other day was yet another exercise in mental self-flagellation for me. My mind raced with questions about why I had made certain choices in certain times, why I had not become “awake” in issues around me sooner, etc. It is a regular occurrence in my life.

This particular time I was so frustrated with myself I pulled out a legal pad and simply began writing. It was a brief review of my life as I looked back on what had influenced me. Within minutes I had 9 written pages.

Beating myself up is a too often regular exercise in my life. In this particular moment came the book, Be Kind to Yourself, by Cindy Bunch. In a few short pages I felt amazing relief.

First, I wasn’t alone.

Second, I needed to hear words of kindness that poured over my soul and I learned quickly the best words of kindness will come from the Spirit… and me.

Cindy is a spiritual director and also works for Intervarsity Press. As she was reading another book on spiritual formation, there were some healing words that came to her from that writing and challenged her to reflect more. This book is the result of that reflection.

This book is an exercise based on two questions:

  1. What’s bugging you?
  2. What’s bringing you joy?

Ask these two questions each day for 30 days. She found that asking those two questions helped her look deeply into the negative thought patterns she had about herself or others.

When we ask the first question, we can then hear how we talk about ourselves. I am harsh. But the question causes me to then ask WHY I am harsh. I walk back through the scenario that set me off and ask what I was feeling.

It is a process of learning how to deal with moments in new ways.

Cindy leads the reader in very practical exercises and opens up her own life to the very real struggles. Her goal is to move us to shame-free self-examination.

The book is a refreshing exercise. It is practical. It is real. She gets personal.

This is an exercise to walk through with intentionality… and grace. Walk slowly. Find joy in this journey.

Unicorns and Puppy Dogs

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Rom. 8:16-18)

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The steep cost of following Jesus

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (John 6:66)

There has to be a willingness to enter in. There has to be a willingness to follow NOT for my own convenience, or because I understand everything fully. I need to follow BECAUSE HE IS LIFE. I trust him, even if I don’t understand him fully in that moment.

Book Review: Soul Care in African American Practice

Soul Care in African American Practice by Barbara Peacock

In the late 90s and early 2000s Renovare released some volumes on spiritual reading that were “workbook” based. One, Spiritual Classics, focused on readings for individuals and groups based on the 12 spiritual disciplines from Richard Foster’s classic, Celebration of Discipline. Another book was Devotional Classics based on Foster’s book, Streams of Living Water. They were designed to take individuals or groups through a slow process of learning from historic spiritual reading combined with Scripture and spiritual formation practices. I still have those volumes on my shelves. They are well-worn.

In that tradition and format comes Barbara Peacock’s book from Intervarsity Press, Soul Care in African American Practice.

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Major shifts are magnified in the time of coronavirus

We are in the midst of the most widespread societal upheaval that many people alive today have ever experienced. Already our institutions, habits, relationships, and culture are shifting before our eyes. Frank M. Snowden, author of Epidemics and Society, shared with the New Yorker, “Epidemics are a category of disease that seem to hold up the mirror to human beings as to who we really are.” The question we are facing is not whether we will experience sorrow and change; the question is how. As biblical prophets walked with people through catastrophes, their advice was never to just endure until it ends. Instead they focused on proactively changing relationships with each other and with God. (More on this article HERE.)

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