Tag Archives: joy

My song today, is Mary’s song

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

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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.

Innocence and Purity

 

My diagram for a "System" of Purity

 

Our freedom allows us to make choices that determine our purity and our innocence. So, freedom always includes responsibility, and purity can be regained. It is innocence that is untried.

In the cases were guilt may plague us, we may seek healing in the spiritual discipline of life confession, and then find it our acceptance of love and forgiveness. This happens best in Community, with the support of siblings in Christ.

This is also an act of worship.

Please share you thoughts on this, or a related theme.

Or you may tackle one of the following. Thanks.

• What have been your influencers with regards to purity?

• How has the media impacted your view of purity?

• What is the biggest struggle regarding your faith and your purity?

Resource used: Pages 126-8. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Adele Ahlberg Calhoun -IVP Books ©2005)
For further reading: “Real Sex” -Lauren Winner

Do spirituality/theology and Humor go well together?

Tangled is good: Twister®! (photo: LisaDeLay ©2010)

Spirituality/theology AND humor ≠ peanut butter and jelly?

Peas and carrots?

or More like jelly and mayo?

Or hair and cheesesteak?

Are people who study God (theologians) humorous as much as they are serious?

In my case, yes.

But does that gel? I’m talking like jell-o giggler, gel? Really nicely, with fun and good flavor, and joint protection.

Okay, I’m not paid to teach theology, not yet anyway, so I’m not a pro. Several hundred hours of study should count for something though.

But, I’ve noticed something: If someone tends to take their studies seriously, and their profession seriously, sometimes they lose their sense of humor. It’s not that they can’t be witty on occasion. But I’ve noticed the “humor” can be more sarcastic than uproarious. Theology can be rather dry… but not as in dry humor.

It’s beginning to bother me some, because of the sense that one “has to” pick one way or the other.

• Either you get your respect and admiration seriously honing your forte and thoughts of God, or you pick some sort of madcap way and get sort of dismissed as a lightweight.

Well, rubbish to that.

It shouldn’t be so.

It is a genius blend to be genuinely comical and also thoroughly studied on the important matters of living in this world with a firm consideration of the Divine as the center of it.

It might look like I’m putting it in my mouth, but I have to put my foot in both camps.

So, I’m putting my readers on notice. (Don’t think: Wittenberg Door “notice”. Think: dry erase board.) As anyone knows, straddling can lead to a good hard thwack in the center. I realize this is RISKY. Those of you that know me personally realize this co-mingled vantage point is from where I operate. Some of you may just…not “get it”.

Stay with me here.

I’m not sure where we got the idea that spirituality must be flaky or humorless. Sobriety is one thing, but cheerless? Parish the thought.

If you are new here, welcome. I invite you to what is an engaging game of Twister®, if you will. Here I will not kowtow to stern conventions of how we must study and know God, and our selves, as spiritual creatures. And no, I’m not a witch. Don’t be so stocked, or “freaked” in any way. (Plus, I weigh more than a duck…)

Isn’t God young? It is us who have gotten old and crotchety. Severe or joyless. Being truly alive doesn’t look much like that.

What do you think…?

Have you lost your sense of humor?

Do you find it doesn’t mesh with diligently following God or knowing him well?

Are worship/awe and fun mutually exclusive within spirituality?

Any thing you’d like to say on the matter?

Let’s hear it –

😛

“The Show About Me”…is just re-runs (part 1)

Life *seems* like a "show about you" b/c you are in every scene and every episode.

If you’re reading because of my column in Schuylkill-News, welcome! (Be sure to join up with S-N on facebook, and get hip to the latest news items and great tips and stories before they hit the newsstands. Tell Amy you enjoy her publication! She needs to know.)

Thanks for reading, and please leave your questions or comments, now or anytime.

Deconstructing the “Show about You”

By default our heads are filled with an odd and faulty knowledge/sense that Life is a Show about ourselves. Each person thinks he/she must be the center of the universe (think: reality lived out), until something, or someone interrupts this notion. Living outside this worldview takes practice, increased maturity, and concerted effort. Cultural norms and money makers do not encourage us to turn the channel from “The Show About Me”.

Sounds like a blanket statement, right? It sounds like I’m saying everyone is a dirty, rotten jerk, and that can’t possibly be true?

Okay, let me back it up and just start with a few questions:

Think about these 5 questions as you read them and answer truthfully (to yourself, or if you feel that sharing will help others, leave your results in the comment section).

1. When you wake up in the morning do you think about the upcoming events in your day, or focus on your feelings?

2. Do thoughts of your past, present, or future occupy your time in your day?

3. Do you endeavor to find pleasure and avoid pain?

4. Do you mentally weigh the personal benefit when making decisions and actions?

5. Do you long for people to think well of you, and you make decisions based on this factor?

Okay, maybe you skimmed those questions.

Maybe you don’t want to do a personal inventory. If you want to move on, and this is getting weird or uncomfortable, you’re headed for a rerun. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Before that happens, please, go back, for one more minute and read and consider the 5 questions. After you’re done,consider your results. If you answered “yes” or “sometimes” at all, you are fairly normal, and you are also living your life as the Main Star of your Show. You perceive reality as something that centers around, basically, _________. <—— (say your name here.)

So what? you say, doesn’t everyone? What’s the big deal?

Well, friends, it’s only a big deal if you want to feel unstuck….If watching the same re-runs of yourself meeting the same sorts of dead ends and disappoints, and having the same insatiable cravings, growing frustrations, and restricted and delayed growth wears on you, then yes, the deal is starting to head into a biggish area.

Seriously, re-runs are really what you get when the season’s over. No one is working anymore, and the networks hope more rehash won’t be too egregious and lame. After two or three times of the same stuff, we usually want something new, something better.

A whole other Reality is going on, and has been long before you, and will long after you. You may have been skimming on the surface of it, but you have to wake up and realize thoroughly that you are not the Star of the Show, and more importantly, it’s not your Show.

‘Ever seen the movie the Matrix? It’s like, but with fewer people wearing sunglasses. …. oh never mind, The Matrix explanation is WAY too long and slippery. You’ll think you’re Neo, and we’ll be back where I started.

There’s a bit more to come:

In a few days, Part II of this reflection will get down deeper. Soon, I’ll also offer mental, spiritual, and emotional (concrete) ways many people have truly shifted their view to a more healthy one. We’re just getting the engine started on this vehicle to a new perspective. Let’s stick together–Meet back here soon.

Always feel free to leave your thoughts, experiences, or comments here. (Just after the tags below this post, it’ll say Leave a Comment. Not to be too obvious, and insult you, but….You click that.)

Or answer some questions:

Any guesses who the Star of the Show is?

What do you think Reality looks like with this different worldview/perspective?

And how would it be lived out? (examples, generalities, etc.)

The Yarn Test

A child and a kitten were given samples of yarn.

Remarkably, in two hours, the kitten knitted a cozy hooded sweater. The picture you see below clearly captures his delight and satisfaction. In contrast, the child was hopelessly trapped in the yarn.

What’s the lesson here?

Never count a kitten out.

When they look confused, jumbled, and wound in a mess of yarn, they’re just dreaming up something. Wait until you see what they’ll knit up.

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)

My ugly Confession.

I have a confession to make.

ambition while missing the point

 

In about 2 weeks, this blog site will be a year old. In the last 5-6 months, I’ve been trying pretty hard to write interesting, helpful, or entertaining stuff for this place, almost every single day. I’ve made fantastic contacts, great new friends, and I’ve had a good time doing it.

This is hard to admit, but, I have to confess, that I’ve been blogging mostly to build a larger reading audience. A little while ago my agent told me that I stood a good chance to have my material published, but the biggest obstacle was “lack of platform.” Lack of platform sort of means, not too many care who you are, or what you do. A successful blog can change that, and help a writer build this much-needed platform. I know there’s nothing shameful about writing a blog and hoping others read it, but my remorse at this moment is that I realize I have made it my means to an end. I’ve been holding so tight to this idea that I can generate a solid readership base to, as Pedro says, “make all my wildest dreams come true,” that I didn’t realize I was putting it before the whole point, which is to share myself and my God with others. In a real sense, I’ve thought of this blog as a vehicle to “get me somewhere,” and I’ve made it an idol. Sometimes I have said to myself, “Well, it’s really both, a vehicle and my ministry.” This may be true, and I hope things work out like this, but if my priorities or motivations shift weight, things get off balance. And they have been.

I stopped long enough for God to speak to my heart, and in my spirit, it seems “he” said, “Let it go.” I got a little panicky at first. “Completely? What? Huh? What ‘chu talkin’ ’bout Willis…er, Father in Heaven?”

Then it seemed like God nudged me, and “said,” “Don’t be such an extremist.” This threw in off a little. So, I sort of looked around sheepishly for a little, almost looking for an exit, but without trying to be obvious about it. It seems like God “said,” “You’re clutching. Stop it. Just write and stop thinking about the rest. It’s none of your business.”

This bothered me. I felt out of control. Of course, it was a false assumption that I really have control like I was thinking I had. But, then I thought about what that might feel like…to hand things over… and I tried to “put that skin on.” Even just putting it on halfway felt SO nice. Relaxing. Like the pressure was off, and leaving the room, like a smog lifting. So, I stopped that exercise midway, I took a deep breath and I yielded. I took my sweaty feet off the pedals and coasted. I waited. And nothing happened. Nothing, for better or for worse, but I felt much better.

I wanted to tell you about it, because I know I haven’t been thinking the right way. I know that has to change, and I’m turning my heart the other way. I may post less often, but maybe there will be more true joy and inspiration when I do.

I do hope many are blessed by this blog, and resources, but I’m not going to transpose the priorities anymore, if I can help it, (with God’s grace). This will happen on a heart level, and it might not even be apparent to you, but I hope that my honesty will not only encourage you to look carefully at your own priorities, and goals, but also be a way to ensure that I stay congruent to my core convictions and values, in the way and nature of my God.

It’s hard to make confessions because, sometimes, it makes you feel really weak, stupid, or like some kind of a scum bag. It’s risky. The temptation to keep on a mask, and act like things are all pulled together, can be a strong influencer. Even though it feels embarrassing, it’s still the only way to move forward, and toward shalom (well-being/peace). I’m trying to be brave.

Thoughts… comments?