Category Archives: Spiritual growth

Related to growth, progress, and development

Can Mustard Seed-sized Faith move a Mountain…of trash?

Some days you take your faith to the scales. You wonder…is it up to mustard?

Today is one of those days–and it’s epitomized in the not-so-scenic view from my front porch.

Will you pray for me?

What do you need faith for today?

Soul, mind, and heart: Not understanding the Biblical text

Which one sounds wrong?

A. Do you have the guts?
B. Put your heart into it.
C. Make up your heart.

What is the heart?
The answer might surprise you.

In modern times, the “heart” has been called, “the feeling mind”. That sounds pretty good to me. What do you think?

A recent visitor responded to my post Is Chocolate Filling my God-shaped Hole? with the comment below (edited down). I think it would help to respond through a post, also. Now we can open up the whole thing to dialogue a bit more. Thanks for your contribution on this topic.

Visitor Response to Post–Submitted: on 2010/12/03 at 3:10 pm
The way I look at it, viewing the heart and mind as separate is extrabiblical; thus, in fact, “that thing that ‘falls in love’ or gets sentimental” *is* the mind. So the modern “follow your heart” does not connote the *opposite* of the biblical “heart,” but rather only *part* of it. Bottom line, I can’t trust my mind or my heart, or even my own spirit completely… only God is 100% trustworthy. As for filling our “voids” with things “besides” God, I try to remember that God gets the credit for all good things anyway…

My response:
I should have also pointed out [within that post] that the Hebrew equivalent of the emotions or passions (what many now consider the “heart”) were also referred to differently than the mind (i.e. set a different category, if you will–the bowels or “guts”).
The “guts” implied connection with those qualities of emotion, and so forth.

To sum up: In the Bible, (most especially in the Old Testament)…

1. What is translated as “heart” (in the KJV and others) is closer to what we now term as “the mind”. More specifically, the individual’s command center, or the place where decisions are made– which includes the will.

2. What we may think of as “the heart” that is, passions, desires, emotions, in the Hebrew language is connected with “the guts” or “bowels” of a person. For instance, “In his guts he loved her”. Yes, it sounds awkward, at best.

Even more controversy:
THE SOUL

There is a big dissimilarity in the Hebrew vs. English renditions of the word often translated in English as “soul”. In Hebrew, it refers to the whole being. The whole person (So, no. It does not mean a ghosty thing that floats to the clouds like in Warner Brother cartoons). We can understand it in our context more this way when we say, “30 souls were lost [died] in the shipwreck.”

Hey, everyone, please, weigh in.
This post is open to opinions, thoughts, comments, or if you’re of the particular stripe…exegesis.
(Yes. That’s the BIG word of the day.)

Exegesis (EGGs -eh- Jesus) is this definition hereIt’s not a variant, or French spelling of “Eggs and Cheeses” which we may be tempted to think at first blush, right? 

"Eggs and Cheeses" (Not Exegesis)

(click photo to find its source)

Tomorrow’s post–
“Does your Breakfast (and your deity) make you AWESOME?”

My song today, is Mary’s song

The Visitation in the Book of Hours of the Duc...

Image via Wikipedia

This is the season of ADVENT.
Today, I want to focus on Mary’s Song (also called the Magnificat) from Luke 1:46-55.

When I first read this, as a kid, I thought, “Wow, Mary’s getting all charismatic…” I wondered if she would be dancing, or waving her hands, or twirling a flag. Would Elizabeth be worrying about getting poked in the eye?

But today, I rejoice, because I see so much better that God provides. I notice that in this Spirit-filled moment of joy, Mary gets what God is all about. She realizes what God is like, and what he does for people. She comprehends that God remembers (mind you, this does not mean God recalls, like finding a lost memory, but this specific term “remember” connotes that God “keeps in the front of his mind”).

God helps the ignoble Mary’s of the world, and will pick them to play the big parts. [Probably the least likely to be important was an impoverished, young, teenaged girl, from a small hill billy mountain village in the Middle East, right?]

The Magnificat speaks to me personally today, because I feel blessed; and perhaps it will be meaningful for you today. 

I hope you share your thoughts with us today.
Thanks.

46“My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”

It seems God has a weak spot for the underdogs of the world.

Welcome to my Dojo

KARATE!

It’s so cool.
I have half a mind to buy a karategi just to feel feisty and strong.

I took a 10 week Karate course when I was about 12. I’m not sure what belt that would translated into now, but I’m pretty fierce, so maybe a corduroy one or plaid (tartan preferably) . And, frankly I’d rather a drawstring than a belt. It does the job without giving your attacker a chance to strangle you with your own accessories. Always a plus.

The spiritual life isn’t something we do, like I did with Karate. It’s like Mr. Miyag said in 1984 in his backyard surrounded by all the cool classic cars, “…Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,” (squish) just like grape.” Mr Miyagi compared training in the art of karate to crossing a road. One can’t “kind of” cross a busy road, or it’s a squish like grape moment.

waxing on before chopping the red block (click to find source)

This website is a bit like a dojo–a spot to learn and train. But, it’s not a dojo as well. For one, I typically a wear bathrobe, or pajamas when I’m writing, not a fancy martial arts getup. The other reason is that when we enter spiritual mentoring and training it is best as a face-to-face and life-to-life lifestyle decision. We simply can not just try it on, like Halloween costume, or take it on a spin, like a hobby.

(Also I take liberties around here to throw in breaks in dojo stuff with general zaniness and humor. And that’s just plan too silly for a real dojo.)

SO! If you took on Christian spirituality and development like training at a dojo, what would you like to know? What problems, or questions would you have? What would you need?

A dojo-like community makes better disciples. That’s one of the aims here. I thank you SO MUCH for reading. And, I invite you to be a part of it a bit more by clicking the subscribe button (marked as “Alluring Button”).

Even though, I might not be your sensei, but I’d like to know.

Did you ever try Karate?
What was your favorite Karate moment? (films included)

Hiya!

Can a Person Absolve your Sins? Drum roll please…

A penitent confessing his sins in the former L...

Image via Wikipedia (confessing to another)

About 500 years ago there was this spat. At the time, having your sins forgiven was a sort of pay as you go thing. It was a bit like a toll road.

The toll booth worker was the Priest. If you bought “indulgences” the Priest could better settle up your debt with God.

Handy little business model, especially when folks hope to avoid damnation, right?

This became rather upsetting. So these Reformer types started protesting. It was not so much to split from the Church, but to transform it–at first.

Of course, men can get pretty riled up about their new fantastic ideas (ever seen that?), and before anyone realized it, a huge split…others might say a heresy or rebellion… was cemented into place in history–forever changing the landscape of Christianity.

Spiritually speaking, some good was gained (and Catholics adjusted to these grievances by the 1960s with Vatican II), but as more and more people are beginning to realizing now, some very good and important things were lost because of going this route.

So, what is the real purpose of a priest, or priest-like figure? Is it necessary? Can absolution of sin come from a man in a white collar? What about a teenager in a crew neck? Or a lady with a scarf?

Drum roll, please…..

Oh!  Wait! Before, you start gathering firewood and a sturdy stake for my conflagration, please hear me out the entire way. (Then have at it; I’d like to hear from you.)

The I Timothy 2:5 “one mediator” verse is often used to underscore that Christ alone can forgive sins and be our mediator to God. It’s true. This was the mission of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.

But Protestants have, by the over-reactive trailblazing of the Reformers, missed quite a bit of the spiritual benefits of what Jesus’ brother James talks about:

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

What is James saying…that confession and other believers’ prayers are powerful and effective against sin? Yes.

GASP.
Okay, not a total gasp. But how does this play out? You may wonder…

This confessing to each other is not the same as be able to actually take Jesus’ place (obviously). James shows us that confession to each other works. It does something important. God wants it to be done this way.

It absolves us (because God absolves us). So, it is true that we personally experience the relief of our guilt being removed. We experience, in real terms, the agency of God’s forgiveness of our guilt. Someone is there beside us, standing in the gap for us, so we can be reconciled more thoroughly, more completely than we can experience it otherwise. It is God’s work; and we are agents of his ministry.

These confessors  to whom we confess become a flesh and blood representation of God’s love that promotes gracious forgiveness and offers wholeness. It offers us freedom from guilt (felt guilt, and feeling or thinking as if Christ‘s work is not complete). It puts flesh on our spiritual justification.

It seems we can’t handle our sin on our own too well, at all.

We are sinful, and it’s not a private matter.

Just confessing to God, and keeping our mistakes and sin to ourselves, is not the recommendation and requirement of Christ’s disciples.

The Community of God (i.e. the Church; our brothers and sisters in the Lord) plays a vital role in our spiritual growth and growth in grace. Confession ushers in that felt healing of the sin and guilt which weigh us down, and disables us.

Our sin is a rejection of community (aka The Bride of Christ) and an act of selfishness.

Our sin is a destructive thing. Socially and spiritually destructive.

Confession and absolution, (the kind you might say/declare out loud to another person) restore us at a core level. To ourselves, to God, and to community (aka The Bride of Christ).

In this way, we act not as God, but on God’s behalf. We minister.

It is simply true that he forgives us. We concur and offer social restoration, and remind the confessing one of God’s gracious work and love for us.

We minister to each other, on equal footing, and we may offer God’s grace to a brother or sister who cannot yet properly apprehend it. We can accept their confession and offer forgiveness, so we speak the Truth of God’s Kingdom into their life. We help set the captives free. (Not because God can’t do it without us, but because he wishes to use us this way.)

YES. We may say, “You have confessed, and you are forgiven. God absolves you. I, too, forgive you. Go in peace, and rest in his love.”

Please offer this to others. Ask for it on your behalf, too.

Will you comment on this topic, please? Your input is vital on this one. Thank you.

Thursday’s 5 Minute Retreat (4 of 5)

Lay down your stones

Ed Cyzewski invited me to carrying on with his 5 minute Retreat series this week. Today is day 4 of 5. I hope you find this brief exercise a way to create a bit of time and space in your day to refocus and reenergize. May God bless you.

This retreat would be best to do if you have a stone or brick handy. If it’s not easy to search for one outside, find something else, that feels weighty in your hand, like a paper weight, book, full water bottle, etc. Yes, I realize that sounds weird. Indulge me for a few minutes, k?

Before we start, please take a few steps to
prepare yourself to take a short rejuvenating break to refreshen your day and your spirit. Together we will gain new perspective. So, please eliminate potential distractions nearby. (Silence your phone, computer, shut your door, etc.)

Ready?
Here we go!

Hold your stone or object in your hand.

Close your eyes and take a few deep, slow breaths. (Be aware of where you are. “Be where you are.” That is, push the chatter of your mind aside, purposefully, for this short and set amount of time.)

Now as you gain awareness of yourself in the spot where you are, be very aware of the weight of the object in your hand. Concentrate on that sensation for a bit. With your eyes closed, notice its bulk, size, “weightiness”, and stay with that for about 60 seconds. (That will feel like a LONG time. But, please do hang in there, friends!)

Now think of the things weighing you down in your day this week. Everybody has something. Do you have conflict in a relationship, too much to do, deadlines, struggles, car trouble, illness, loneliness, frustration? What is bothering you RIGHT NOW?

Think about how those things in your life really do feel like a weight resting on top of you. They are pushing you down. They feel heavy.

Now, feel the weight of the stone or object in your hand, and make the conscious association, of what weights you down with this weighted symbol of it that you are holding.

Feel their weight, and recognize that you want to be free of it. You want new strength and relief. You want to claim that release.

Talk to God briefly about your particular struggle/s, all while clutching your stone or object.

If you can say this next bit out loud, I recommend it. If that will be too awkward because of your surroundings, try to repeat this a few times in your mind:

God, I am laying my weight down. Take it from me. I willingly lay it down for you to pick up.

(Repeating this for your ownership of this act will help you a lot.)

Now set down your weight. Release it. Lay it down, with purpose. (If you are outside, you may want to throw it down, or put it in a trash can. Or, maybe that’s just me. OH! And watch out for glass. It can sneak up on you, just as you let your stone fly.)

NOW–Feel the weight lift. It’s GONE.

Breathe deeply.

Now walk away.

And thank God.

Thanks for coming along today, and daring to experience life a bit differently. I hope this is helpful to you in a special way. I’d love to hear about your experience, if you’d like to share it here.

TUESDAY 5 Minute Retreat. (2 of 5)

Thank you for coming here. Ed Cyzewski invited me to carrying on with his 5 minute Retreat series, “with my own spin”. This is day 2.

Let’s enjoy a time and space set aside for refreshment. (Please feel free to comment anytime. Sharing your experience is valuable for all of us.)

First,
prepare yourself to take a short rejuvenating break, by eliminating potential distractions. (Silence your phone, computer, shut your door, etc.)

Now, fold your hands. That’s right interlace your fingers as you clasp them together.

As you look at your hands, either your left or your right thumb will be on top. Many people hold their left thumb on the top. Which is it for you? (you can let us know in the comment section)

Now, re-clasp your fingers and thumbs so the opposite thumb is on the top.

It will feel unfamiliar, and perhaps “wrong” or slightly uncomfortable. (You can describe what it feels like to you in the comment section)

With your hands this unfamiliar way, take 3-5 deep inhales and exhales, slowly.

Think about the habits and routines in your life that you never really notice. Like… Tying your right shoe first, or sliding into your driver’s seat a certain way, preparing your coffee, brushing you teeth, or something more important, like checking your email first thing in the morning, or interacting with your kids.

Could this be a day where you can be extra aware of your daily habits? Today, could you survey all you do, and see if you want to change some things up?

Unfold your hands and fold them the uncomfortable way–again.

Pray about what make of the details in your life, that keep you from growing, or that keep you where you are, and not where you should be.

Do you need to forgive someone? Ask God to help you. Rely on his strength to forgive that person, through you, (with his strength) even if their are no warm feelings toward them, yet, or maybe ever.

Unforgiving habits are ruts we should overcome.

Try to fold and unfold your hands several times today to remind you of the habits you are in, and the ones that should change.

Stretch out your hands, arms, and body, and let out a big breath.

Take on the day!

Thanks for sharing this with me. May you be blessed.