Tag Archives: experiencing God

Guest Writer: Shane Tucker ‘Aesthetic Spirituality’

I invited Shane to post here, chiefly because I feel a kinship to Shane. The artist and the spiritual formation learner I am jives so nicely with Shane’s outlook, and what he does as his life’s work. Writers, artist, thinkers, creatives, musicians, and so forth bring vital perspective to Christian Spirituality, and walking with God. Shane tends to this group, which is not an easy task.

Shane Tucker

 

Who is SHANE TUCKER?
Shane lived in Ireland for eleven years with his wife, two daughters and son. Now, he serves as Creative Director for ‘Dreamers of the Day‘ [www.dreamtoday.org] – a network utilizing the arts, spiritual disciplines, evocative messengers, and symposiums to engage people in their journey with Christ. He is passionate about seeing people live into their purpose in life, and he finds applications for that as a ‘soul friend’ (spiritual director) via Soul Friend (www.ArtistSoulFriend.com). He can be reached via either website or at shane dot tucker at gmail dot com.

Please enjoy Shane’s post, and feel free to offer your insights, comments, or questions.

Aesthetic Spirituality
by Shane Tucker

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
-ThomasMerton

We have an innate quality to notice beauty at every turn. To know that something is ugly or unattractive we must, of course, know that true beauty exists . . and in some way, to have experienced it. We resonate most strongly with that which seems to offer wholeness or a sense of completeness to our lives. That resonance may also be experienced as a deep hunger. Seldom do we know ourselves well enough to be able to express those yearnings in a coherent fashion. Itʼs in those times we need a bridge – something enabling us to connect, to integrate disparate elements into a whole. . . into a sense of being whole.

Art – any method or medium of creativity – can often serve as this necessary bridge, this connection, between what we know and what we long or yearn to know. Art gives us the tools, the words, the motion to live into what we sense is already there, but as of yet remains unseen. In this sense, art itself is a means by which we find ourselves by moving beyond ourselves. Through art (the highest sort) we are transported into places and spaces where we can lose ourselves. Itʼs a gift to be fully present to, and fully absorbed into, a situation or individual where weʼve forgotten to be concerned with our own desires or even aware of our image before others. Iʼve had a few experiences like this directly and by extension.

One of those experiences occurred three summers ago while I was attending a festival of creativity in middle England. I sought out a band I wanted to become acquainted with and unexpectedly, during their set I was in continual awe. Through their skillful use of music and visual elements, I was caught up in the moment and I forgot myself. Classic. Iʼve had similar experiences standing on green, broad, bald hilltops around Ireland as I drank in the arresting landscape around me. Another example are Christmas mornings since my three children arrived on the scene. Experiencing the uninhibited enthusiasm and joy demonstrated by these little people as they open gifts and share their excitement with the family – these are moments of pure bliss.

In times such as these we are given the gift of losing ourselves . . more specifically, concern for ourselves. The end, however, is not the experience of forgetting oneself in beauty, wonder, and awe; or even that of knowing a deep resonance which affords us the equivalent of tonal tonic through lifeʼs journey. Itʼs knowing Him. I hear, see, touch, taste and feel the Creator in this God-saturated existence called life. Heʼs made Himself ever- present in the created order and ever-accessible. He has, in fact, painted Himself into the portrait, written Himself into the narrative and sung Himself into our lives – even into existence, in Jesus Christ. When we recognize His overtures of love, our moment is to respond whole-heartedly, in trust, recklessly abandoned. In His hands, we then become the artwork by which He invites others to lose and find themselves in Love.

“Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them.” – Jesus, Matthew 16:25

by Shane Tucker / Soul Friend (Spiritual Director) / www.ArtistSoulFriend.com

Thank you, Shane.

(part 1) The Living God vs. our dead idols

 

The Holy Fire did not consume the bush

 

Fire:

1. Normally destructive

2. A consuming chemical reaction

3. In art, symbolism, movies, and maybe in the human psyche, fire is seen as a living being, of sorts.

For example, witness lines of the film, Backdraft, 1991.

Robert De Niro’s character- Donald ‘Shadow’ Rimgale: It’s a living thing, Brian. It breathes, it eats, and it hates. The only way to beat it is to think like it. To know that this flame will spread this way across the door and up across the ceiling, not because of the physics of flammable liquids, but because it wants to. Some guys on this job, the fire owns them, makes ’em fight it on it’s level, but the only way to truly kill it is to love it a little. Just like Ronald.

Many times we function in life as if God is an idea. God may be getting frozen in our mind. Static. Stiff. Or maybe we think of God in relationship to things past: Bible stories, fixed doctrinal positions, the holy and immovable One.

Yet God is the only Living God. The Highest. All the other things we worship are dead, or they can make us numb, dead-like. Getting our fix of whatever…people, gossip, technology, gadgets, velocity, power, status, (etc. maybe you can think of others) are all tertiary distractions, fool’s gold. They don’t bring life, or growth, but instead more craving.

Let’s share a bit, shall we? Please list a dead god you’ve worshiped. (If you can, include some adjectives about it.)

Thank you for reading. 🙂

Are You Discouraged?

Oswald Chambers

 

 

Oswald Chambers meditation:

. . . when Moses was grown . . . he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens —Exodus 2:11

 

Moses saw the oppression of his people and felt certain that he was the one to deliver them, and in the righteous indignation of his own spirit he started to right their wrongs. After he launched his first strike for God and for what was right, God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years. At the end of that time, God appeared to Moses and said to him, ” ’. . . bring My people . . . out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ’Who am I that I should go . . . ?’ ” (Exodus 3:10-11). In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God.
We may have the vision of God and a very clear understanding of what God wants, and yet when we start to do it, there comes to us something equivalent to Moses’ forty years in the wilderness. It’s as if God had ignored the entire thing, and when we are thoroughly discouraged, God comes back and revives His call to us. And then we begin to tremble and say, “Who am I that I should go . . . ?” We must learn that God’s great stride is summed up in these words— “I AM WHO I AM . . . has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). We must also learn that our individual effort for God shows nothing but disrespect for Him— our individuality is to be rendered radiant through a personal relationship with God, so that He may be “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We are focused on the right individual perspective of things; we have the vision and can say, “I know this is what God wants me to do.” But we have not yet learned to get into God’s stride. If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead.

Have you thought about discouragement in this way?

Your thoughts or comments are encouraged.

Jesus, WORST TATTOO EVER!

What a FIND! Introducing painter Stephen Shelby Sawyer. (art4god.com)
Steve, doesn’t just do art FOR God, but ON God.
He probably means well, but
when I first saw this image called “No Appointment Necessary” I threw up a little in my mouth.
Shortly after pondering that, I laughed my butt off at the lunacy of it all. It’s probably that smoldering look in sexy Jesus’ eye that tickles me. This hunky American Jesus is totally peacockin’! If you’ve got it, flaunt it, right JC?
If you’re wondering where the Holy Spirit is, I proposed that he’s in Jesus’ hair.

BTW. Wicked hot triceps, Jesus. I mean, Steve. Yes, we noticed!
(Hey friends, if you think THIS Jesus is hot, wait until you see him in, the Sabbath, painting. He’s reclined and “resting”. Right. He looks like he’s waiting for, oh, well never mind.)
Steve has also painted Jesus as a super buff boxer at least four times. Round 15 is the sexiest I’ve seen of that series. (And his hair is crazy gorgeous, like Jesus uses Wen shampoo.)

One of the more awkward ones, is Fireman’s Prayer, Jesus is tucked in close behind a firefighter, and helping him, by holding his hose. And No, I did not make that up.
I thought I didn’t like Thomas Kinkade. But, Steve, you kick his buttocks.
If you don’t like this art, does it mean you don’t like Jesus?
Did anyone ever tell Steve that Jesus was not attractive?
Isaiah 53:2 (prophecy fulfilled)
He grew up like a small plant before the Lord,

like a root growing in a dry land.
He had no special beauty or form to make us notice him;
there was nothing in his appearance to make us desire him.

What if you got a tattoo of this picture of Jesus with a tattoo?
I will give you $100 if you do it.
It’ll be totally BEAST, dude.
Or, maybe the universe would explode. Not sure.
Give it a try: Give this image a caption.

Speaking Event Sept. 26th

Author Ed Cyzewski and I will be teaming up to teach, pray, and experience God’s word, together with you, at this public event sponsored by the Redeemer Church, and called “The Basics of Reading and Praying Through the Bible.”

Redemption Church (link)

How should one read the Bible and study it?

What are spiritual practices, what are they for, and how does the use of the mysteriously named Lectio Divina benefit prayer and meditation on God’s word?

This Sunday, you will learn and experience this helpful prayer exercise for yourself with Lisa, and be better able to understand and utilize the Bible with Ed. You will be better equipped and motivated to grow closer to the Almighty God of the Bible through this engaging event.

If you’d like to find out more, or come, link here to the facebook event page.

No way to make it this time?

Contact Ed, or me to visit your group in the near future. See you soon! 🙂

Blooming Rose of Sharon, evangelism, and spiritual conversions

For mother’s day my family got me a Rose of Sharon plant.

Rose of Sharon blossom (from my yard)

My Rose of Sharon shrubbery

As you can see it’s nearly in full bloom. Although a lot was happening in the life of this new floral addition to my yard, it is the blooming that get us to notice it most, and think of it as really “coming to life.”

Working this week doing the Bible lessons for Vacation Bible School has gotten me to thinking a lot about ordo salutis (“the order of salvation”). This refers to the series of conceptual steps within the Christian doctrine of salvation. Evangelical tradition is particularly focused on “the decision” to follow Christ, and “accepting him into our heart.” While a choice is involved here that can change one’s life, we might be noticing the spiritual blossoming when we concern ourselves primarily with a person’s sudden conversion experience.

Today, my former theology professor, Ken Miller (of the Methodist tradition), posted quite an insightful piece on spirituality that we in ministry and soul care are wise to read:

excerpt: -by Ken Miller
Let me put this out there up front: I grew up in a revivalist tradition, in which a signal experience is what initiates one into the faith. Further, in that tradition it is more similar events which act as catalysts for further growth in the faith. Crisis experiences, usually building on emotions and culminating in a trip to the front of the church/campmeeting/crusade venue and subsequent prayer, are what create significant growth in the Christian life. These experiences likely have to do with the confession of a known sinful act or habit or the sudden realization that one’s current pattern is displeasing to God.

I am not about to dismiss the potential value of theses events/experiences. But I will question their sufficiency. Too often we watch the same individuals having emotional releases, only to return to the same patterns of life. It’s a problem at least as old as the revivalist tradition itself, as John Wesley himself struggled with it and created the Methodist system as a corrective. One could conclude, as Wesley did, that those who reverted to the old ways never really tasted the saving power of Christ; others, wrongly in my reading of scripture and Christian doctrine, claim that the experience itself authenticates one as “saved” for eternity. Apparently, change is optional. Tell it to Paul.

That brings me to the subject of the day, and of the brief passage below. Transformation happens not by an emotional experience, but by the renewing of the mind. We may well experience—and many may well need—the jolt of the emotions provided by the revivalist approach. But change will only come when the mind is changed. We need to think differently about things if we are going to act differently. We need to unlearn some things, some of which were certainties before the word of God pointed in a different direction. We will have to take a look at the ideas we’ve adopted from the culture, along with the ones we didn’t even think were open to serious challenge.

But there’s more to it than turning the faith into an intellectual battle with “worldly” ideas. As Paul’s argument continues, we find that we are called into action immediately, requiring a different attitude and set of habits toward the people we live with and encounter on a regular basis. Is it the case that these ways of dealing with people constitute the renewing of the mind as much as the bigger worldview questions?

Miller’s full article here:

It’s interesting to note that if we think one must be “saved” from spiritual separation from God–by mainly the act of a conscious choice–the mentally handicapped and others are excluded. It also erodes some of the proper understanding of God’s sovereign work (as if Salvation is “up to us”).

If however we see both the hunger to seek the truth about life and God, and also we perceive the work and indwelling of God, (seen best in the fruit of the Holy Spirit), we may be noticing the blossoming of God’s continuous work (of which is largely a mystery).

It seems we must be careful to understand the entire process, including the disciple-making (training) and sanctification process, post-decision…if “the decision” is even the crux of it all in the first place. For us it may seem pivotal, but later a deeper experience could follow, yet for God, it’s one long Story that includes his work, and us (individually) and the rest of humanity.

In truth we have a limited and frail concept of what God, by his grace, gives us.

What are your ideas regarding salvation or conversion?

Some flowery information:

(found here)
Chavatzelet HaSharon (Hebrew חבצלת השרון) is an onion-like flower bulb. (Hebrew חבצלת ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ) is a flower of uncertain identity translated as the Rose of Sharon in English language translations of the Bible. Etymologists have inconclusively linked the Biblical חבצלת to the words בצל beṣel, meaning ‘bulb’, and חמץ ḥāmaṣ, which is understood as meaning either ‘pungent’ or ‘splendid’ (The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon). The name Rose of Sharon first appears in English in 1611 in the King James Version of the Bible. According to an annotation of Song of Solomon 2:1 by the translation committee of the New Revised Standard Version, “Rose of Sharon” is a mistranslation of a more general Hebrew word for “crocus”.
The most accepted interpretation for the Biblical reference is the Pancratium maritimum, which blooms in the late summer just above the high-tide mark. The Hebrew name for this flower is חבצלת or חבצלת החוף (coastal ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ). It is commonly assumed by most people in Israel that, the Sharon plainbeing on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the Biblical passage refers to this flower.

Likely "rose of Sharon" Mediterranean Sea flower (lily)

Banqueting Table, Part 1

ONCE UPON A TIME~

You hear a famous chef will be working his magic at the neighborhood restaurant, so one night you stop by for a sumptuous meal. Inside, you are welcomed by a maitre d’. Curiously, he’s wearing a name tag that reads, “Hello, my name is: Friendly Maitre d'”. His large teeth settle wide and inscrutable, as he motions his branchy arm for you to follow him. A large room decorated in rich browns and warm accent lights and sconces awaits you. A marvelous walnut table yawns out, bare. Below the table is an enormous drop cloth. You sit as directed, and wait.

Gazing around the room, you shiver a bit in your chair, as you notice light and airy music just a bit out of hearing comprehension. A candle might be nice, you daydream.

Out of the blanket of quite three people bustle through the swinging door. One holds a glass of water, another plastic utensils and cocktail napkin, and then the chef brings up the rear with a partitioned plate in his hands.

“Sorry for the wait,” he says. We’ve been planning this for a while, but now that you’re here, we’ve had to step it up a bit. We hope you know that we want you to feel comfortable.”

“Yes. Very, very comfortable,” say the other two together. You spy their name tags. Both read: “Hello, my name is: Casual and non judgmental host (pre-friend).”

The chef doesn’t wear a name tag at all, but his chef hat has “chef de cuisine” embroidered on it, large and flowing. He is sweaty, but cheerful, and a bit out of breath.

“You don’t want to go anywhere else. You feel welcome, and at home here. This is the banqueting table, friend! We don’t want to be pushy. Just, please, enjoy,” he says wiping his top lip, and setting down the steaming plate in front of you.

“Soon after you begin your entree, we should begin with our spontaneous conversation,” says a beaming host.

“We’ve prepared well in advanced to be natural and friendly with you,” says the other.

You look down at your banquet meal. The cocktail napkin is imprinted with, “Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”

Appetizing Spiritual Food?

to be continued…

(responses are welcome)

(Jesus Doll) Oh, no, you didn’t… (updated)

 

This “toy” begs a few questions:

Batteries and Holy Spirit included?

Will he be found eating among the trampy Barbies?

If you hold the toy while praying, does it count as an idol?

Can he heal other toys?

If he breaks, will the toy fix itself after 3 days?

What’s your caption, or headline?

Rickroll = Godroll -Part 1

 

Rick Astley '80s pop

 

by Psalmist Rick Astley

Never Gonna Give You Up 

We’re no strangers to love
You know the rules and so do I
A full commitment’s what I’m thinking of
You wouldn’t get this from any other guy

I just wanna tell you how I’m feeling
Gotta make you understand

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

We’ve known each other for so long
Your heart’s been aching but you’re too shy to say it
Inside we both know what’s been going on
We know the game and we’re gonna play it

And if you ask me how I’m feeling
Don’t tell me you’re too blind to see

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

(Ooh give you up)
(Ooh give you up)
(Ooh) never gonna give, never gonna give (give you up)
(Ooh) never gonna give, never gonna give (give you up)

We’ve known each other for so long
Your heart’s been aching but you’re too shy to say it
Inside we both know what’s been going on
We know the game and we’re gonna play it

I just wanna tell you how I’m feeling
Gotta make you understand

You’ve been Rickrolled

&

You’ve been Godrolled

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Reflections-On a Missions Essay/Deism

Below is the paper I did about world Christianity. The author of the essay I am reflecting on is from Sri Lanka, and I was surprised to find some interesting similarities between American culture and Indian culture.

Missiology Essay Paper 3

about

Essay: God: the Source, the Originator, and the End of Mission

by Ajith Fernando

November 20, 2009

Submitted by Lisa DeLay

Ajith Fernando in his essay, God: the Source, the Originator, and the End of Mission, presents the church as a mirror of the Trinity, and surmises the challenges of missiology in the second half of the 20th century, and in his current context of Sri Lanka. He first looks at Paul’s epistles as a study of theology to discover a Scriptural missiological telos.

Fernando speaks of fear as a dominant emotion for the world population–whether they are rich of poor. The rich fear economic reversals or harsh business environments, and the poor fear destitution and oppression by demonic forces. For both groups, the power of God in atonement, and the gospel is vitally important to impart to them. These principles include God’s sovereignty, his gloriousness, righteousness, God as the source of revelation and salvation, God’s gift of salvation, God’s will for our lives, and God’s post-salvation blessings to us. Our response to God is met in the acts of belief, worship, commitment and obedience, godliness, and accountability to God.

As Fernando moves into some of the crises of the church in his region, I sense that many of the same issues plague the body of Christ in the U.S.A. in many similar ways–though a unique American twist is apparent. The “magical view of God,” is common for Fernando’s people, where they are used to apprehending God similar to the way they had understood their originally worshiped deities. These prior deities were considered powerful and would do favors for them. Eventually, the people first came to the Almighty God for things like healing from a sickness, for demonic deliverance, or relief in a financial crisis.

Here, in the U.S. many also view God in an immature, or simplistic, light as well. Many may understand him to be something like a magical genie that should comfort them, fix their problems, and help out in crisis. Christian Smith offers a term for American youth, which I believe to aptly to many adults as well. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these:

1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.”

2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.”

3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.”

4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.”

5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.”1

Fernando mentions that to people in Sri Lanka, many times the subjective blessings, rather than the important implications of holiness, are what the Christians are more focused on. I sense a great similarity here, with many American Christians who are stunted in their spiritual formation. The, “what is God doing for me,” mentality, or “what can I do for God so he favors me more,” is a common notion in quite a few Christian circles.

In (his) church, Fernando says prayer requests, and testimonies tend to be about temporal matters or needs. This rings true for my church, as well, and I am sure in many other American churches too. When one reads our church’s prayer listing, requests are most frequently for sickness, physical safety (such as for those in the military, or traveling), or for temporal, or tangible/material needs, (such as finding a job, family stability, fundraising, good weather, or an upcoming event.)  I do not ever remember hearing of a prayer request that included something like, “learning peace and patience during a trial or loss.” I do not remember anyone in my church requesting prayer that his particular suffering would bring him closer to God. Many personal testimonies, as well, or prayer requests revolve around tangible blessings, alleviating personal suffering, meeting temporal needs, or the satisfaction of acquiring personal preferences, (such as healing, or a desired answer to a temporal need.)


1 R. Albert Mohler, Jr.| “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism–the New American Religion” Christian Post. Accessed November 16, 2009 from http://www.christianpost.com/article/20050418/moralistic-therapeutic-deism-the-new-american-religion/index.html