Wednesday, March 31, 2010

flee to Him

We give thanks to God when He provides, then we anxiously take control again for the next need. Why can't learn?!

He reveals truths to us, guiding us in His way, and yet again, we ignore Him. Then, we fret as our lives go "haywire".

He offers us forgiveness and salvation, but we choose the dark road of harboring secrets and sins, even though He knows them all anyway.

We cling desperately to things of this world, believing that our happiness and contentment lay in them. Why are we so afraid to let it all go? Yes, we fear change and would rather suffer misery in the "status quo", than relent to the blessed "unknown".

Yet, the lover of our souls promises us "abundant life", the greatest consolation we could know!!!!

Hosanna! God save us! Yahweh to the rescue! Come quickly, come now before it's too late!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Celtic rune of hospitality

I saw a stranger yestere'en. I put food in the eating place, drink in the drinking place, music in the listening place, and in the sacred Name of the Trinity He blessed myself and my house, my animals and my dear ones, and the lark said in her song "often, often, often, goes Christ in the stranger's guise." [Kenneth MacLeod]

Sunday, March 28, 2010

humility and God's purposes for our lives

Many times I have considered whether or not seminary might be God's path for me? Others have even suggested such a path. However, God has never "called" in this area. Perhaps, it is because He knows all to well the pride that would befall me in achieving some level of "spiritual status", rendering me useless to Him?! Oh, to be sure I love studying and learning, but do so where He has me . . . "on my knees" at home.

Instead of "higher education", He has humbled me, shown me my insignificance, then allowed me to be His instrument of Grace, Mercy, and Encouragement to others. All the while, giving Him all the credit; Praise, Honor and Glory! In all this I find great consolation, and have no desire for fame, titles or great "knowledge". Only that I might be a vessel, a useful jar of common clay to be constantly poured out.

May God speak to your own heart, and may you find your purpose in Him . . . whether seminary or simplicity.

Experiencing God

Yes, I have read/done the Packer and Blackaby things similarly titled, but often I am most impressed by the simple, but oh so beautiful moments that He surprises me with. For instance, recently, I was sitting on the couch in my favorite "quiet time" corner. It was afternoon and my eldest son (home for a visit) is sitting next to me working on his computer. Patti is busy at our computer working on a document for her work as a professor at our local community college.

It is a blessed time, and I sense God's Presence, I feel Him engaged with us all. Occasionally, we exchange comments to one another, as we are all busy with our separate tasks. I'm reading The Ignatian Workout by Tim Muldoon, a delightful book which has prompted my consideration of God's Presence in this time and place.

I glance over at Kyle's laptop screen from time to time, and am amazed at what he is doing! He types "code" using Linux(an operating system scientists prefer), and as he types a graphic depiction is displayed on the screen. He is designing a portion of our galaxy and plotting stars, including our own earth and sun! (Part of his PhD work at Stanford)

I feel a deep sense of JOY, and realize God is delighted with this entire scene.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ephesians 4:1-16 (New International Version)

Unity in the Body of Christ
1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it[a] says:
"When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men."[b] 9(What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

things of this world will all pass away

Was feeling tension? . . . a sense of uneasiness from engaging in controversy and dialog re: such, to the detriment of service, Kingdom work. So much better to avoid FB, etc. for a full day of loving others. I fell exhausted into bed, but oh so peacefully. Love, that is the key . . . not anger or other fleshly attit...udes. Love one another, Christ will judge at the end of the day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Christus Primatum Tenens

Sexual orientation, abortion and more . . . our preoccupation with sin . . . what it is and what it is not in our distorted modern world only distracts us from the greater occupation of spiritual formation.

The great fathers and mothers of the church,Christ's obedient disciples,didn't spend (waste?) time debating such things, but lived their lives in pursuit of Christlikeness . . . Their salt and light revealed/reveals God's Truth beyond the shallow "arguments" of our post-modern, post-Christian world.

The absence of abhorrent sexual behavior, the clear sanctity for human life, the character of righteousness, grace and mercy left no doubt among those observing these lives.

Devotional Classics & Spiritual Classics from Renovare . . . good reading

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Highlights from The Art Of Christian Listening by Thomas N. Hart

The overall goal of the Christian listener/helper is to assist another to grow closer to God. It is not to be a psychological problem solver or psychotherapist, but the helper can certainly be supportive of all that is sought in healing and growth of an individual.

 To listen – be fully present, attentive, and set aside one’s own concerns and needs, it is an act of love.
 Be a companion – lighten the dreaded pain and burden from another’s shoulders.
 Love – love and love alone can make them well again, the transformative love of Jesus Christ.
 Be oneself – available and vulnerable to another, willing to take on pain and suffering.
 Not – being responsible for another person’s life, removing the problem or pain (but helping to work through it), being of greater experience, holiness or experience, making them a different person . . . affirm them as God’s beloved and created.
 Not (one more) – not psychotherapy . . . that is left to professionals, the “Christian helper/listener” is a support for other helpers.
 Freeing – Jesus liberated people from their self-imposed imprisonment of poor self esteem and guilt, and He did by simply loving them. The Christian helper can do the same as a human incarnation of Christ; loving them as they are, loving all parts of them; (good and bad, knowing the potential the Father created in them), and telling them why you love them, because love is the only thing that truly heals . . . the Love of God in Christ Jesus.
 Prayer – never forget the direct conduit to the Power of God to heal and liberate.

Philippians 4:6-9 . . . Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

meant for me, but maybe it will speak to someone else as well

We ought not let "windy" words waft us about. And, with words, less if often more, and of better use. [an Anon E. mOOse probverb, aka mOOse musings]

Proverbs 10:8-10 & 19

8 The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

9 The man of integrity walks securely,
but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.

10 He who winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

19 When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.

1 Timothy 6:20

20Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge,

2 Timothy 2:16

16Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.

Yea, well that ought to be enough to keep me shut up for a while??!!

only by Grace,


P.S. " . . . but with God all things are possible." Even this Lord?! Yes, even this my chatty child!

Monday, March 15, 2010

knowledge through love, true virtue and power

The Imitation of Christ, chapter 34 of book III – Against Useless and Worldly Learning
The Voice of Christ -- (knowledge or love . . . true virtue and power)
MY CHILD, do not let the fine-sounding and subtle words of men deceive you. For the kingdom of heaven consists not in talk but in virtue. (1 Cor. 4:20) Attend, rather, to My words which enkindle the heart and enlighten the mind, which excite contrition and abound in manifold consolations. Never read them for the purpose of appearing more learned or more wise. Apply yourself to mortifying your vices, for this will benefit you more than your understanding of many difficult questions.
Though you shall have read and learned many things, it will always be necessary for you to return to this one principle: I am He who teaches man knowledge, (Psalm 94:10) and to the little ones I give a clearer understanding than can be taught by man. (Psalm 119:130) He to whom I speak will soon be wise and his soul will profit. But woe to those who inquire of men about many curious things, and care very little about the way they serve Me.
The time will come when Christ, the Teacher of teachers, the Lord of angels, will appear to hear the lessons of all—that is, to examine the conscience of everyone. Then He will search Jerusalem with lamps and the hidden things of darkness will be brought to light and the arguings of men’s tongues be silenced. (Zeph. 1:12, 1 Cor. 4:5)
I am He Who in one moment so enlightens the humble mind that it comprehends more of eternal truth than could be learned by ten years in the schools. I teach without noise of words or clash of opinions, without ambition for honor or confusion of argument.
I am He Who teaches man to despise earthly possessions and to loathe present things, to ask after the eternal, to hunger for heaven, to fly honors and to bear with scandals, to place all hope in Me, to desire nothing apart from Me, and to love Me ardently above all things. For a certain man by loving Me intimately learned divine truths and spoke wonders. He profited more by leaving all things than by studying subtle questions.
To some I speak of common things, to others of special matters. To some I appear with sweetness in signs and figures, and to others I appear in great light and reveal mysteries. The voice of books is but a single voice, yet it does not teach all men alike, because I within them am the Teacher and the Truth, the Examiner of hearts, the Understander of thoughts, the Promoter of acts, distributing to each as I see fit. (1 Cor. 12:11)
“My people will be always listening but never hearing,” says the Lord. “They ignore my prophets, so I will speak to them in a foreign language, and they will be lost.” [inspiration from the book of Isaiah, chapter 28]

Men often seek titles and degrees for vain purposes, pursuit of knowledge for knowledge sake. But there are no universities that award PhD’s in love. Only Christ “awards” that character, and it can’t be taught or learned in seminary or university, it must be lived in Him.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

On the occasion of the feast of St. Patrick

The first two years of Columba’s (Columcille in Gaelic) residence on Iona were spent learning the language, tilling the soil, training followers, and generally organizing the community. The days were filled with prayer, study, and manual labor, and in this last Columba, with his great spiritual and intellectual gifts, was always ready to share. In dairy, granary, or in the fields, each worshipped God in his appointed task, and made his toil a sacramental thing . . . The secret of the early Celts lay in this, that they linked sacrament with service, altar with hearth, worship with work.

For us too, it is important to discover the rhythm of praying as we work and through our work. Sometimes a simple manual task can even assist the praying heart in its focus. Even my own Lakota ancestors found sacredness in the simple, daily life and its stuff, its rhythm, along the Good Red Road of Christ.

At the end of his life, Columba had this one last prayer on his lips and heart:

Almighty Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Eternal, ever-blessed, gracious God,
To me, the least of saints, to me allow
That I may keep a door in Paradise;
The furthest door, the darkest, coldest door,
The door that is least used, the stiffest door,
If so it be but in Thine House, O God!
If so it be that I can see Thy Glory,
Even afar and hear Thy voice, O God!
And know that I am with Thee – Thee O God. [W. Muir, the Prayer of Columba]

Remembering my namesake St. Patrick, his “Breastplate”, and his disciple Columba, as the feast of St. Patrick approaches.

Go, be vulnerable and available as Christ’s ambassadors in the world. Do not lose your saltiness, nor hide your light, but abide in Him and you will be His salt and light to a broken and destitute world.

Only by Grace,


Thursday, March 11, 2010

be doers . . .

There is a concept called the Pareto Principle, (80/20 law or the law of the vital few), which basically says with regard to participation that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. Sadly, no where does this principle apply more than in our churches! In fact, sometimes it appears more like 90/10 in my own church! [Hope our "Go" efforts are rewarded by God in more "workers" for the "harvest"?] Jesus and his earthly brother, James, had much to say about "faith in action":
Matthew 5:13-16 (The Message)
Salt and Light
13"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

14-16"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

James 1:22-27 (The Message)

22-24Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

25But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

26-27Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

James 2:14-26 (The Message)
Faith in Action
14-17Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

18I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, "Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I'll handle the works department."

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

19-20Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That's just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?

21-24Wasn't our ancestor Abraham "made right with God by works" when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn't it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are "works of faith"? The full meaning of "believe" in the Scripture sentence, "Abraham believed God and was set right with God," includes his action. It's that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named "God's friend." Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?

25-26The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn't her action in hiding God's spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.

How are you responding to Jesus' love and sacrifice for you?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How then shall we live?

Spiritual direction, spiritual directors, spiritual disciplines . . . and yet, “The old man, alas, yet lives within me. He has not yet been entirely crucified; he is not yet entirely dead. He still lusts strongly against the spirit, and he will not leave the kingdom of my soul in peace. But You, Who can command the power of the sea and calm the tumult of its waves, arise and help me. Scatter the nations that delight in war; crush them in Your sight. Show forth I beg, Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified, because for me there is no other hope or refuge except in You, O Lord, my God.” [bk. 3, ch. 34 The Imitation of Christ]

So then, what are we to make of all this striving, but no living? A man may live long, but how has he lived? Again we return to the words of the prophet of wisdom, “All is vanity.”

Called to live in community, but in community is conflict, confrontation and controversy. And again, the “old man” rises up to destroy unity and give the evil dweeb and his minions too many footholds. We espouse our positions, but fail to truly listen to each other, some refrain to share from our hearts for fear of retribution and insult. Is this the church? No wonder ascetics sought out solitude and silence. No wonder so many battered and beaten, by the world and their brothers, flee into hiding, fasting from the world and all its temptations.

Yes, show forth Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified! Come while there is still light, nay even come into the darkness!

We know not how to live, especially in community. Love does not rule our hearts, but envy and wrath . . . oh yes, we have plenty of that to go around! What do you make of all our striving Lord? We pursue righteousness but so falsely. All our exercises are empty, they lack your Presence . . . we only fool ourselves into mind games of activity in your Name, but again lack your Love.

Which spiritual discipline can rescue me from this pit? What spiritual director will guide me into that blissful path of righteousness that my heart yearns for? No Lord, I see that all is truly vanity aside from abiding in You. You Lord must be my goal, You must be my pursuit . . . that I would become more like you Jesus. To walk like you, to talk like you, to Love like you . . . how can this be? Show me Lord, guide me into paths of true righteousness, lead on Your Narrow Road . . . along the Good Red Road. Crucify this old flesh, make me anew . . . make to be love, compassion, mercy, humility . . .

My church has seen the absence of mature disciples, the lack of spiritually transformed people . . . and yet, we are confounded as to how to correct this Kingdom vacuum. Show me the Way Lord, guide me into all Truth.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. -- As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

Spiritual Direction - the final reprise

"Because I love Jesus, his Father will love me -- He will make Himself known to me! And their Presence will give me light and joy and strength to do all that is right and good." We cannot be lax to often center our minds and hearts upon his loveliness and kindness, that we might love him more and more.

Now you have studied a number of ways in which we can be with Jesus and with His (Our) Father. It is time to take what you have learned and make your own specific plan for your life with them.

Do not be surprised if you are led in a way which others do not go. It is for you to work out with Him how you are going to to that . . . follow Him." Spirit of the Disciplines, Willard.

"When many instruments for the obtaining any virtue, or restraining any vice, are propounded, observe which of them fits thy person or the circumstances of thy need, and use it rather than the other, that by this means thou mayest be engaged to watch and use spiritual arts and observation about thy soul." Holy Living and Holy Dying: Together with Prayer, Containing the Whole Duty of a Christian, Taylor (1650).

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. -- As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (from John 15)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Monvee and spiritual direction in general

Monvee is a relatively new "spiritual direction" program, kind of a "spiritual director" in a box. Monvee is in the development stage in anticipation of a worldwide roll-out some time next year, (or maybe even later this year?) You can investigate Monvee at, but briefly, Monvee is a tool for individuals and churches to assist in personal spiritual formation. It includes an assessment, which leads to a summary and ultimately a "road map" personalized to each individual. My personal opinion after taking the assessment and participating in the Beta project is that this could be a very useful tool for both individuals and churches, but that it is focused on the 15-35 yr. old age range. So, older folks (yea, like me) may find the tool and process intimidating or confusing, and need help to get through the process. That said, Monvee includes very helpful resources and plans tailored to each person's character and "style". I would say that it can complement spiritual direction, but that a soul friend or director may still be necessary? Nothing helps like a humble, good listening brother or sister in Christ. Obviously, the key to spiritual transformation is our relationship with Christ, and through Him, with our Father and the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, our formation and transformation are the work of Jesus Christ as we surrender to Him.

As for spiritual formation, spiritual direction, transformation, etc., here are some very good thoughts collected from; The Spirit of the Disciplines (Willard), The Imitation of Christ (a' Kempis) and finally from the community of Northumbria - a "monastic" community living out their lives in the world in a daily exercise of faith and action in Christ Jesus. I have formulated those thoughts into a more brief treatment for the sake of brevity (at least relative brevity.):

Spiritual formation as envisioned by the ancient fathers and mothers of the church includes both contemplation and action. Service ("works") is seen as a natural outgrowth of our transformation in Christ Jesus. I think Jesus on the shore cooking up some fish for his disciples summed it up best . . . "Do you love me?" (contemplation) . . . "Feed my sheep." (action). The best of the monastic communities all served the Lord well out of their deep love and communion with Him.

Humility is both a key and a difficulty in the process of transformation. From the Imitation, Jesus says, "You have nothing in you in which you can glory, but there is much in you for which you ought to humble yourself. You are much weaker than you think." And further, "We inquire about how much a man might accomplish . . . but we should be asking whether he is poor in spirit, meek and patient, or how devout he is." If we enter into the process of transformation under and in Christ, we should become humble as He reveals ourselves to us in His Light. In the Light of God our sin and shortcomings become all too visible, and we are humbled if our hearts are inclined toward Him.

Now what about this "works" thing. Christian doctrine tells us that salvation is a gift of Grace, and that nothing we do can earn it. But Jesus own brother, James, teaches us that "faith without works is dead." Martin Luther had considerable trouble with this teaching because he saw how the church in his time abused this teaching. But even Luther concluded that works are indeed the result of faith. That even before works can be proposed, faith will have them done. The point is our response to the abundant LOVE shown us by God through Christ Jesus, in that response there is no "work" only a life lived in response to Christ's love and servanthood on our behalf. We are to become the "imitation of Christ" in our daily lives, reflecting His character (The Sermon on the Mount), while our own fleshly lives are "hidden in Christ".

Finally, (as I know this much too long and it's getting late here), I love the "Rule" of the community of Northumbria, which I am trying to incorporate into my own life:

"This is the Rule we embrace. This is the Rule we will keep: we say YES to AVAILABILITY; we say YES to VULNERABILITY.

We are called to be AVAILABLE to God and to others:

Firstly to be available to God in the cell of our own heart when we can be turned towards Him, and seek His face;
then to be available to others in a call to exercise hospitality, recognizing that in welcoming others we honor and welcome the Christ Himself;
then to be available to others through participation in His care and concern for them, by praying and interceding for their situations in the power of the Holy Spirit;
then to be available for participation in mission of various kinds according to the calling and initiatives of the Spirit.

We are called to intentional, deliberate VULNERABILITY:

We embrace the vulnerability of being teachable expressed in:
a discipline of prayer;
in exposure to Scripture;
a willingness to be accountable to others in ordering our ways and our heart in order to effect change.

We embrace the responsibility of taking the heretical imperative:
by speaking out when necessary or asking awkward questions that will often upset the status quo;
by making relationships the priority, and not reputation.

We embrace the challenge to live as church without walls, living openly amongst unbelievers and other believers in a way that the life of God in ours can be seen, challenged or questioned. This will involve us building friendships outside our Christian ghettos or club-mentality, not with ulterior evangelistic motives, but because we genuinely care."

Clearly, spiritual formation/transformation happens through both contemplation and action working together in Christ Jesus and the Power of Holy Spirit at work in us.

and all this can truly be accomplished . . .

only by Grace,


"Love one another, by this love the world will know me and my Father who sent me."