Tag Archives: spiritual discipline

Tech = Baal (Re: Idol worship)

Personal Handy-phone System mobiles and modems...

Baal worship...new skool

Baal worship...old school

TECH = Baal. True or false?

We’d like to think idol worship isn’t something we practice. We don’t bow down to manmade gods like the foolish people of old we read of in the Bible, right?

Not so fast. (I think we do)

Probably, if we can’t live without something invented in the last 150 years, it qualifies as an idol–Yes. A full-tilt false god.

If we have a trust and loyalty to something we assume is a necessity, I think we should challenge this devotion.

Here’s the ugly truth. You probably worship your computer, your Apple product, your GPS, your phone, or your car. (Our association with technology is the modern equivalent of Old Testament style idolatry.)

A “long ago” 2007 British study of 1,256 people showed that 1/3 of those asked would pass on $2 million to keep their cell phone. 85 percent of those studied said that having a mobile phone was “vital to maintaining their quality of life.” The statistics are likely far higher now, almost 4 years later.

So, it’s simple. Tech = Baal.
Now, will you give up your false god?

At first we rebuff this allegation of idol worship. We’ll think of ways that the things we adore are for safety, common sense practicality, or we’ll come up with a rationalization for why our devotion isn’t really so bad.

The prevailing idea is that if the technology is available, there’s a kind of moral imperative to utilize it. “If it’s possible–it should been done.” Hence, things like octoplets, an artist being fitted with digital camera skull implant, and decades-long life support situations happen. (Can you think of another gross abuse of technology?)

What of ourselves is lost because of these unnatural loyalties?
Probably, a basic part of our humanity.
Sound overblown?
Let’s be serious: We become what we serve. We are enslaved to what we worship. What are the repercussions for serving technology?

Here’s a case in point:

It seems no one (especially under a certain age[?]) can image going without a mobile phone, or internet capabilities for a few hours, let alone a few days. Could you give up technology that’s been created within the last fifty years for a full week? Would it cramp your style, and make you grouchy? (Signs say yes…that’s old school tech…the 8 Ball.)

281 million youth have cell phones. I admit I have withdrawal symptoms without access to the internet for more than a day. I get twitchy. It’s uncomfortable. And no, I don’t like it.

So, I think we have to be honest and address this. What do you think about it? When have you worshiped technology? What do you think you do about it?

Is there a Christian spiritual practice that can help us?

Absolutely. It’s called fasting. Prayer, fasting, and giving to the poor are the pinnacle of Kingdom of God living, according to Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Without these things, we are not living as a follower of Christ as he laid it out.

A Tech Fast should be part of your spiritual practice, because it will get your attention better than most things will. This will create growth and maturity.

Fasting challenges our loyalties.
(Read that again)
When we desire the thing we fast from, it creates a space to concentrate and reflect. It re-proritizes our habits, calls them into question, and helps us sift through the what we we should hold dear versus what should be leashed and subdued. When the pang to digitally connect, shout out our thoughts to the masses, or get instant information strikes, we can train our hearts as we place prayer and worship in that void that feels like need. The point isn’t to prove our righteousness by going without, but rather to create time and space for heightened refocus and Christian spiritual practice. God has us engage in fasting for our benefit, not his. It’s a training method…a.k.a. a disciplineIt’s a command to fast. (Sorry to break this to you.)

BUT GOOD NEWS: The effect is refreshment, and quite likely a more informed outlook on our lives.

Will you take the JANUARY TECH CHALLENGE with me? Kick the new year off on a new foot. Between now and the end of January, fast 3 times from technology. Start off with a few hours, or half of a day (if you’re ready for THAT-gulp), and try to build up to 2-5 days by the end.

Feedback appreciated on this. Thanks.

God Bless you.
Lisa

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Jedi Training, coming in 8 weeks.

 

jedi-t

Anyone can be a Jedi... eventually.

 

No, Mr. T is not officially endorsing my program, (which is really a focused learning group) but if he knew about it, he might.

If you’re curious, and ready to be a Jedi, click the tab at the top that reads “Jedi Training – Info.”

Only 10 people will be chosen, at a time. We begin in January.

May the Schwartz be with you.

 

Andrew Wyeth – natural surroundings, autumn

Some of you know that I used to claim fellow-Pennsylvanian, Andrew Wyeth as my favorite living American artist. He died this past January 16, in his sleep at the age of 91. His 7 decades of artwork are a profound legacy to the world of art, and culture in general. He was a master of the difficult egg tempera medium, and dry brush watercolor. Technically, Wyeth has superior talent as a drawer and painter, having been tutored by his father, skilled illustrator N.C. Wyeth.

At this time of year, I am attracted by the changing seasons, and the brilliant landscapes. Wyeth did many paintings of landscapes, and I’m drawn to his works at this time of year. Please enjoy a few samples, and these links to his collections. I hope you get a chance to visit them in person.

Links to museums with Andrew Wyeth’s work:
Andrew Wyeth’s website
Brandywine River Museum
Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center
Smithsonian Magazine Article on Andrew Wyeth

A sample of Andrew Wyeth’s work: (click on the image to see it, or enlarge it)

Please leave your comments to this work. Thanks for visiting, today.

Faith and Fleecing God- Hoodoo Part II

Gideon and wool

A common tactic among Christians who seek God’s guidance and direction is to follow the example of biblical hero, Gideon. (see Judges 6:1-8:32) Many people searching for God’s will, lay out a “proverbial fleece,” and ask that God show them which way to go. They hope for a sign, or at least a strong feeling.

Let’s think about Gideon for a moment. When God called Gideon to lead his people in victory over their oppressors, the man was hiding out in the bottom of a winepress threshing wheat. Remember, to thresh wheat, one needs the wind, and open air, so the chaff can blow away, and leave the kernels behind. (One doesn’t get much of that, in a pit of a winepress.) This man was scared silly. One can’t expect to feel even much of a breeze in a hole! God calls him “mighty warrior” too. HA! What a sense of humor! He was either being totally sarcastic, or meant Gideon could be this with God’s divine intervention–in the future. (or maybe both, I wasn’t there to hear the Angel of God’s actual tonal inflection) 😉

Then, Gideon starts mouthing off, acting all bitter, and asks that the Angel of God to actually prove he is really God. To my knowledge, no one else in the Bible is this brash. Graciously, God permits this, instead of just smiting his sorry butt, he obliges him, and burns up a meal, right in front of Gideon. This, of course, scares the snot out of Gideon, and he believes, sort of. He’s still a big-time coward. God instructs him to take down his family’s idols that they all worship. God’s not a big fan of idols. DUH. God was already putting up with a lot of bologna. This garbage removal is an obvious “first things first” order of business.

Everyone in Israel knows you should not worship idols, EVER (they all are aware of those 10 Commandments, and laws of Moses stuff.) Gideon is totally justified to rip them down immediately; so he marches over and does it, no problem. NOPE. Not at all. Gideon goes the cowardly route, and tears down the family idols, by sneaking out to do it in the middle of the night, with a few buddies.

After gathering troops, still, Gideon struggles to feel right or the least bit courageous about God’s calling, or God’s Almightiness. This unlikely victor asks for, not just one miracle, but 2, yes two, miracles, before he follows God’s direction. Very presumptuous, indeed, not to mention faithless.

Here’s the kicker sometimes left out in this hero’s story. After a mighty, and completely miraculous victory, over a powerful and oppressive enemy, the Midianites (with a tiny fighting force of just 300), Gideon constructs a sacred golden object in his town that is soon worshiped by him, his family, and the whole community. WTHuh? I think Gideon and his ways boarder on ridiculous. He’s quite ordinary, in fact. Just like you or me?

While some use the fleece part of the story as a prescriptive idea for determining God’s will–a genuine way to find God’s guidance and will–I believe the Bible includes it as a failure of faith on Gideon’s part, one of several. Really the entire story is part of a greater witness to an idolatrous and unfaithful era in the times of the Judges. It’s really not a picture of Gideon as a good follower, at all, but instead a picture of God, and his forbearance with a very weak individual, a supremely unlikely leader, and a faithless people he has called his own, and wants to save. God continues to use misfits, and losers in his is amazing Story, but we don’t have to emulate these folks in their weaknesses.

In reality, Gideon was like a lot of godless inhabitants of the region; he was a superstitious sort. This was an unfaithful and tumultuous time in Israel’s past as they co-opted with many ungodly practices. Are behaviors of Gideon’s type really the best for us, or the most advisable? I say, “No.”

So if not, what should we do? I’d love for you to weigh in here on this! But, I’ll put in a few ideas.

First, we shouldn’t think of spirituality/the Divine as magic. “If I do this, I’ll know I should do this thing here, if this such thing happens.” Totally hoodoo. That is trying to get God to jump through hoops, so we feel more comfortable. Yes, sometimes God works with this shortcoming in us, but we should also understand that God will purposefully let us flounder sometimes.

Which way to go, or what to decide, might be part of our growth process. Also, Biblical narratives show that God will purposefully allow us to encounter temptation, or the opportunity to make an unwise choice.

Loyalty, and a close walk with him is one of the best guards against going hoodoo with God. (I call this close walk, Practicing the Presence of God. So did Brother Lawrence.) If we are being loyal/obedient, and we thoroughly love God with all we are, it is much easier to choose what God wants for us. And I really think it’s not always just one specific thing we have to pick that is his “will” for us. Sometimes, it’s the situation of good, better, and best. God doesn’t bite his nails wondering if we’ll pick the right thing, and then viola– “be in his will.” He redeems situations, even the foolishness we get ourselves into. It’s that much better if we pick wisely, and make him the center and glory of our decision making.

Yes, sometimes God will open and close doors, and almost seem to force our hand. If we love and trust him, we’ll be okay with that, knowing that he will do that sort of thing for our best benefit and interest, (though it may be hard to see what that is at the time.) To test God, by fleecing him, is to deny ourselves the opportunity for a close intimacy with God. He is a relational Being. He gives us opportunities to walk with him by faith, and not just by sight.

I would love to hear your responses to this post.

Leave a comment, if you will.

No Fun Allowed? Not so fast!

 

(actual sign) Creepy!

(actual sign) Creepy!

When the kiddos where swarming Jesus, his disciples started barking at the parents. They said Jesus couldn’t be bothered with that sort of thing. Jesus harshly rebuked his helpers. He had time for the kids. I can picture him ruffling their hair, smiling at them, and blessing them, as they crowded around him.

 

He went on to say that to come  in the Kingdom of God you must be like a child. I think he was primarily speaking about “child-like trust,” and perhaps “purity” of heart, but let’s also think about the nature of children for a minute.

Most kids aren’t super serious, most of them find joy in the present, most can be fairly easily amused, most of them assume they need some help to get by. Oh, and another thing–THEY PLAY! So, maybe those of the kind of people Jesus enjoys the company of. 

Have you grown up? I should say, have you gotten old? Have you forgotten how to play? How to play with all that you are-like a kid-all out? Can you shelve your crotchety outlook, and have a good time, without feeling awkward, bringing someone down, or looking at the negative?

I’ve met so many Christians who are so “grown-up,” they could meet up with God, and he’d seem more like a boy to them. In other words, they would have no idea how “youthful, innocent” exuberance looks, or sounds like. Look at the world of created things. God must have been laughing when he fashioned some of those creatures! Tough-skinned grown-ups aren’t much able to id joy, or what is joyful, if it hits them in the face with a cream pie. They’ll probably say, “Oh, thanks joy! Perfectly good pie, and YOU wasted it! Now clean this up.”

God sings, smiles, and laughs. Shocking! (Actually, only to some people.) Open your eyes. God is good. God is even fun!

Maybe we should remember that he gives us this world to enjoy. He give us others to enjoy. This world is our playground, and we may be happy here. Tag-you’re it!

Sunday Dawn Walk

morning 10/4/09

Today I woke up at 6:22 a.m., and even though I didn’t want to I felt I must take a walk. It was still dark outside. I dressed into the first things I could find, and couldn’t locate my glasses, so I put on my husband’s prescription sunglasses. I looked like a bug creature.

I felt like I should go back to a nearby hillside were I walked earlier this week. I had gone there to see the sunrise then also. I had gone a bit too early, and by the time came for dawn, dense cloud cover blocked a good view. Still, it had been a nice experience. 

This time as I crouched on the dewy hillside overlooking the tree-covered town of Cressona, dotted with lights, I looked up at the stagnant bluish cloud cover again. But interestingly, if I waited about 15 seconds I could sense cloud movement eastward. It made me realize that even when I’m waiting, and it seems nothing is happening, it is. Sometimes I just have to be more perceptive, and patient to notice it. The morning turned beautiful with the new light, and the dark prescription sunglasses intensified the hues, especially the reds, making the scene even more brilliant.

It was an introspective start to me day. Worshipful, pondering, astonishing, and encouraging. Surprises are at every turn.

I changed the header photo on the home page to one from this a.m. Hope you like it.

My Stinky Stones

Estone

I just mailed off my 1st Ebenezer Stone, (help stone) and 18 spiritual practices/remembrance ideas to use with it for a more enriching walk with God, and awareness of his presence in everyday activities.

To get yours, or better grasp what in the world I’m talking about, just read the info., and see my awkward video clip on the Ebenezer Stones page.

By the way, each stone smells fantastic! I just said “stinky” for alliteration purposes. 🙂