Category Archives: Spiritual practices

Observances, actions, rites, or demonstrations that prepare the heart for obedience and most willing acceptance of God’s work through grace.

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?

Evangelicals and Lack of Tradition

This year, the Christian calendar begins November 28th. It is the Season of Advent.

Advent House

Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and many mainline churches observe the Christian calendar. The topic for each Sunday is predictable. Scripture from the lectionary guides the themes, liturgy, sermon, art, and music of that particular time. Traditional? Yes. Useful? I do believe it is.

It provides congruence. Most Evangelical pastors are accustomed to, more or less, speaking about what’s been on their mind recently. This is carefully referred to as “what God has laid on their heart.” (And you’d be a fool to question the movement of the Spirit, right? Maybe a fool, or maybe a blasphemer…if you spoke your thoughts.)

In general, it’s not a terrible thing to follow the leading of the Spirit. (If that is truly what is happening. But, that’s another post entirely!) But does this unformatted contemporary formula help cinch together the Story of God, the Christian Story, and bring a cohesive message of the Gospel, in history and depth, in a palpably connected way? Or, is the shoot from the Holy hip often more of a “bang here and a bit there,” approach?


I’d like to hear your take on it?

I tend to think a healthy mix of several Christian traditions could be very spiritually useful in contemporary times. We are already malnourished on a sound bite way of life as is it.

Chaplain Mike, a one-time Southern Baptist preacher, who blogs at imonk does the whole topic much more justice than I can. I strongly encourage you to link to his specific post with the link at the bottom, if you’d like.

Witness this poignant quote found there:
(It really hit home with regards to my Christian church experiences.)

“Part of the problem is that evangelicals really don’t have traditions,” said Carter. “Instead, we have these fads that are built on the strengths and talents of individual leaders. … But a real tradition can be handed on to anyone, from generation to generation. It’s hard to hand these evangelical fads down like that, so it seems like we’re always starting over. It’s hard to build something that really lasts.”– Joe Carter as quoted by Terry Mattingly

My main resource for this post and a really helpful article is here at imonk. It is most helpful for Evangelicals, and I challenge you to consider a deeper appreciation for the Christian calendar year, starting this Sunday, November 28th.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday Meditation – Thanksgiving

Pa. 1942 Thanksgiving (creative commons)

Book of Common Prayer
A Litany of Thanksgiving
836    Thanksgivings


Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so
freely bestowed upon us.

For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and
sky and sea.
We thank you, Lord.

For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women,
revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.

For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and
our friends,
We thank you, Lord.

For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.

For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,
We thank you, Lord.

For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering
and faithful in adversity,
We thank you, Lord.

For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,
We thank you, Lord.

For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.

Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and
promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;
To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the
Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

See also The General Thanksgiving on pages 58 and 101.
From the Book of Common Prayer online: here.

Chocolate

Wilbur Chocolate Company

Image via Wikipedia

What you see here is a cup of “Turbo” and the Dark Chocolate Crepe (filled with mascapone cheese, fresh strawberries & dark chocolate truffle ganache. Served with more strawberries, fresh cream & chocolate drizzle) from Cafe Chocolate in Lititz. I only wish I had more than my poor quality camera phone to capture it.

WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. If church were like this place, well, we’d all go a lot more, and be heavier. Heavier, but probably happier too. Jolly. We’d be jolly.

Their signature beverage is the Turbo. Made with West African %60 chocolate cocoa, frothed with organic milk, and infused with a shot of smooth Espresso. Image a rich, creamy, chocolaty goodness that sort of shoots you into euphoria, on a Japanese magnet propelled train.
Pleasurable? Yes. Think of your best worship experience with God…and then add fudge.
Okay, don’t do that. I think I went over the line there, plus, it’s like comparing apples with oranges, or chocolate bars with communion wafers.

It’s the kind of drink that can make you cry or sing (or in my case, both). Since God made chocolate, it was eventually a worship moment for me.
And thank goodness for smelling salts!

Lititz, Pa is also the home of Wilbur Chocolate, a very superior confectioner, and the now famous yearly Chocolate Walk. With Hershey Chocolate close by, this whole area of Lancaster County is sort of a Mecca for chocolate lovers. Also Sturgis pretzels is there in Lititz; and they boast America’s first commercial pretzel. You can make your own pretzel on their tour, and eat in fresh out of the oven.

Oh happy day! 🙂

HAVE YOU BEEN TO LITITZ?
What is your favorite chocolate goodie?

Sunday Meditation – A Celtic Prayer

Celtic Knot by Denise A. Wells

Image by ♥Denise A. Wells♥ via Flickr

• Carefully read this prayer, and meditate on it today. You may reflect on it in the comments section, if you feel so moved.

O God of the weak

O God of the strong

O God of the righteous

O shield of homesteads

 

O may I find rest everlasting

In the home of Thy Trinity

In the Paradise of the godly

In the Sun-garden of Thy love.

from Carmina Gadelica

Resource:
pg 19 Celtic Prayers to Guard and Guide You

Good Books Publisher ISBN 1-56148-335

 

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.

WEDNESDAY’s 5 Min. retreat (3 of 5)

Did you vote?

The 2010 Election  is barraging us at every turn. Is a break (or mini-retreat) possible? You Bet ‘Cha! whoops….um. I mean yes, yes it really is.

Every politician tries to offer his or her constituents HOPE.

It’s a word that gets tossed around A LOT. Just like the word CHANGE. It makes sense to offer this, when most of the time candidates can only hope there will be hope, and hope there will be change (for the better).

Today, let’s think about hope and change–which are quite linked–in ways that it applies to us personally, and how it relates to the source of all Hope–our Creator and Savior.

Thank you for coming here on day 3 of the 5 Minute Retreat in this 5 day series. Ed Cyzewski invited me to carrying on with his 5 minute Retreat series.

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

– Quickly (not giving it too much thought) jot down a few things that give you hope. (If you don’t have paper, think of 3 things, and keep them in the front of your mind.)

Read over these things a few times, and attach onto one item you’ve thought of, and roll it over in your mind.

-What has given you hope? What has produced change?

Lift these things to God, and ask God to fill your heart with hope, from his Everlasting well of Hope. God is Hope, epitomized. True hope comes from the Almighty God.

Today, as you go through your day, try to say/pray the words, “God give me Hope that comes from you.”

I would love to hear from you.

Do you enjoy these mini retreats? If so, there are 2 more coming. If not, have HOPE, and hang in there until Saturday.

Thanks for visiting.

-Lisa

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.