18 March 2009

Today's Journal Entry (w/ a bit o' lyric)

It's killing me to be quiet . . . I've been staying at home with my healing face . . . reading books, reading blogs, cleaning up the place. Mostly taking care of Ella and washing dishes and talking with Nicole. Today, though, I get the stitches out and, supposedly, Dr. M says I can rock climb tonight.

So, tonight while climbing with my partner will be another test of whether I'm a good listener and communicator.

. . .

Stitches out. 10% skin strength in my face wound. Thumbs up for climbing, "Just don't smash your face on the wall." "Okay."

. . .

So, I'm back from climbing and I think I listened well . . . then I stumbled and struggled on the question of "So what do you do?" by the new partner. There are three of us now climbing together Thursday nights. Great time.

. . .

Prayed with Corey via chat for the Ockers of Australia, rednecks of sorts whom, I know, Jesus would love. They have a great sense and practice of EQUITY, RISK-TAKING, TAKING CARE OF EACH OTHER, ANTI-HYPOCRISY WHETHER RELIGIOUS OR OTHER, . . . CONFESSION OF PERSONAL FAULTS, NO PRETENTIOUSNESS, NO SHOWING OFF! They sound like I imagine the Twelve.

I end today thanking God for my precious wife and daughter . . . and the new U2 album! Here's a lyric that reminds me of trying to rush prayers to God and God speaking back:

Restart and reboot yourself
You’re free to go
Oh, ohhh
Shout for joy if you get the chance
Password, you, enter here, right now

Oh, ohhh
You know your name so punch it in
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
Shush now
Oh, ohhh
Then don’t move or say a thing

Okay, another good lyric:

I can stand up for hope, faith, love
But while I’m getting over certainty
Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady

15 March 2009

Week of Meek and a Poem

On Sundays we've simply been reading sections of 1 Thessalonians and making a commitment to make room for God to change certain things in our lives. Last week I determined to work quietly with my hands. That would be my new 'practice', so to speak, not that it was a new thought, just something I'm not normally intentional about.

I called it "the week of meek" so I wouldn't forget to reign in my urge to talk about God and faith ALL day. I learned three things after practicing this attitude among non-Christians for a week:

1) It is a challenge for me to listen and be content with living as a Christian without talking about it A LOT. I tend to be slightly pushy and wordy about my beliefs without listening and getting the vibe of the other person.

2) Hard work is hard work, especially when done quietly. On a scale of 1-10, one being the quietest worker and ten being the most talkative, I believe I'm usually a seven or eight.

3) Sometimes I unintentionally use God, through overt Christian talk, to make my self look righteous, more righteous than I am. Really I've been aware of this habit since the late '90s, but I haven't changed much since then in the area of self-righteousness.

Practicing is hard. It's like training. It reveals weaknesses. But it's good. I realize I need more consistent training. I need to stretch my self further. I'm going to keep this week of meek going a little longer, at this point I'm thinking two more weeks.

Of course, I'm ready to talk about my faith if someone demonstrates curiosity, but when I feel the urge to tell them everything I think I know . . . I'm going to reign the urge in so I can give them an opportunity either to express more curiosity or to express their own beliefs and knowledge.

Since, if you've read this post thus far, you've proven to love this kind of information and you know you're welcome to comment as lengthily as you like, I will share one more thing from the week, a poem that popped into my head late one night, just for my blog readers, if I have any, to enjoy. If you read 1 Thessalonians, the poem should make sense. Anyway, here it is,

Turning from idols to serve the True One
Laboring, started by love
Nursing mother, caring for her own
Overflowing from one to one
Until the Voice and the trumpet call
Then, "Look!" . . .
in the sky!
meet the Son!

Oh, and here's an excellent principle I learned, intellectually, from Dr. Friedman, which I hope will help me keep reigning in my eloquent waxing:

“People cannot hear you unless they are moving toward you, which means that as long as you are in a pursuing or rescuing position, your message will never catch up, no matter how eloquently or repeatedly you articulate your ideas.”

08 March 2009

Areas of Spiritual Poverty

One of my professors drew this little diagram back in 1997, I believe. I don't remember what he said, but the image has bothered me ever since . . . in a good way, I think. Recently, I thought of adding the question to ask my self in all honesty. Am I impoverished in each of these three areas? Is it possible to find the sweet spot? Is it even worth asking? Should the words be different, like WAY/TRUTH/LIFE?

God So Loved The . . .

Any comments? Thoughts? I was trying to capture "tax collectors and sinners" with more provocative language. The spider part was partly inspired by some, perhaps faulty, theology by my lovely wife. "God only created spiders after sin and the cursing of the ground." :-)

03 March 2009

Religious Practices (Or Practicing Worship)

A couple weeks ago we had a high intensity workout for worship.

Okay, I know that sounds strange if not unscriptural. Let me explain. I believe when Christians get together it should be for the purpose of celebrating what God has done and getting fit for daily tests. For example, to grow able to love our neighbors, we practice loving on each other when we commune together; to become fit enough to consider trials to be pure joy, we each other and carry each other's burdens in church.

So here's what we did a couple Sundays ago just before communion, how we built up an appetite for the Lord's Supper:

We said to each other, "I don't know what I'm doing, but God loves me anyway."
We discussed, "What is Christ best known for throughout the world?" and basically said, "Love."
We discussed, "What are Christians (we) best known for?" and basically said, "self-righteous."
We said to each other, "Oftentimes, I don't love, but God loves me anyway."

High-intensity workout:
We practiced saying each of Jesus' beattitudes to each other by putting the teaching into a common phrase.
For "Blessed are the poor for theirs is the Kingdom," we said, "I need you."
"Blessed are the mourners for they will be comforted," . . . "I'm sorry." (meaning sorry for our sins)
"Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth," . . . "I respect you." (meaning although I could exert power over you in some way, I choose to respect you)
"Blessed are the ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . ." . . . "I want to do what's right, regardless."
"Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy," . . . "I have forgiven you already." (this was powerful to hear)
"Blessed are the pure in hearth for they will see God," . . . "I will be honest with you always." (this was particularly hard for me to say)
"Blessed are the peacemakers . . ." . . . "Let me be the first to stop the fighting." (this opened my eyes to my lack of self-regulation when I see the opportunity to win a fight)

Then, at the climax of our workout we remembered Jesus' teaching on LOVE: "A new command I give you: Love one another. This is how the world will know that you are my disciples." So we said to each other, "I will cut you slack because Jesus did me." (since practicing this statement aloud in church, I've said it numerous times during the week in my mind and returned a blessing for a curse)

We discussed the question "How has God been good to us?" and retold parts of the story of God in Christ.

It seems like church is meant to get us fit for heaven. So I plan to look at it this way from now on. The church should be a blessing to the world. How can we do that without practicing and working out when we get together? How can we really hunger and thirst for the Lord's Supper without doing core Christian practices together? How can we love like Christ without practicing? It won't happen by accident or just wishful thinking.