Saturday, January 27, 2007

a change of perspective

Painting number 1 (1601) = Supper at Emmaus

Painting number 2 (1606) - Supper at Emmaus

I came across this illustration while reading Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian culture. Both paintings are done by the same artist - Caravaggio. The second one is five years after the first. As an artist he is interpreting the story of Jesus at the table with the men he met on the road to Emmaus. What do you think he is trying to say?

Friday, January 19, 2007

an agent of change

catalyst = an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action

talking to a good friend last night, i mentioned that i am coming to an awareness of what it is that i do. i have a desire to help people, who are no longer satisfied with the status quo, move from where they currently are to the place that best represents forward or positive progress.

i realize that when i am doing that i am connecting with what i was meant to do. it doesn't matter where i am, what matters is who i am in that location. i could be in the coffee pub, a local business, the library, or at home; if i am helping someone go through significant change then my role and my soul are one.

In chemistry and biology, catalysis is the acceleration (increase in rate) or slowing down of a chemical reaction by means of a substance, called a catalyst, that is itself not consumed by the overall reaction.

i was looking at my life through the lens of where i was to define what it was i was doing. so if i was at the marketing job then i was this person, if i was at a social gathering then i was that person, if i was at church then i was that person. living a compartmentalized life is the most unsatisfying life i can live. i am so thankful that the living Spirit of God has brought me to this revelation of who am created and purposed to be. in my limited educated view of life, i see that my role of a catalyst doesn't directly benefit me, rather i am present in order to help those who come in contact with a catalyst. for me, a catalyst is a kind of servant to its host environment but yet is not altered by its surroundings. that being said, it doesn't mean that the catalyst isn't affected by the reactions that are taking place. in fact, i would think that the more significant changes that are made as a result of the service of the catalyst the deeper the energy source for the catalyst for future service.

humility has an impact on my view of the catalyst. a catalyst is only an agent. agent meaning a representing entity of a greater power or source. so when i am in the purest sense living breathing and being who i was created to be then i am representing my Designer/Creator.

"the revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes." Psalms 19 - the message

Saturday, January 13, 2007

exiles: living missional

I got this book for a gift for Christmas. I am excited to crack open the pages. Last night I began the first chapter. The intro explains who might be reading this book.

"This book is for the many people who wish to be faithful followers of the radical Jesus but no longer find themselves able to fit into the bland, limp, unsavory straightjacket of a church that seems to be yearning to return to the days when "everyone" used to attend church and "Christian family values" reigned.

This book is for those Christians who feel themselves ready (or yearning) to jump ship but don't want to be left adrift in a world where greed, consumerism, laziness, and materialism toss them about endlessly and pointlessly."

And so I read on...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

two invitations one decision

Imagine you got a party invitation in the mail. Inside the card reads:

Are you confused about life? Don’t know what’s going on?

You take a moment to deliberate if you will attend the fiesta. The next day you receive another invitation in the mail. Inside the card reads:

Are you confused about life? Don’t know what’s going on?

Now you are really perplexed. Two invitations. One decision.

Reexamining each card you find that the first card offers an evening of insight and healthy dining, a full feast with bread, choice meats, and fine wine. The second card offers a pleasure filled night of passion and feverishly wild festivities.

Which one do you attend?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

work. thought. dance?

“The requirements of a work to be done can be understood as a will of God. If I am to hoe a garden or make a table, then I will be obeying God if I am true to the task I am performing. To do the work carefully and well, with love and respect for the nature of my task and with due attention to its purpose, is to unite myself with God’s will in my work.

Unnatural, frantic, anxious work, work done under pressure of greed or fear or any other inordinate passion, cannot properly speaking be dedicated to God, because God never wills such work directly.” Thomas Merton – New Seeds of Contemplation pg. 19

I have read and re-read this page about a dozen times. I have handwritten it in my journal and now I am writing it electronically. Someone must be trying to tell me something about the thing I put my hand to or as we would say today, what kind of work do I do?

Contemplation is a big word, thirteen letters in all. A simple working definition for me might be how I think about things. Now to take that one step further is to say that if I really want to experience the most intimate relationship with the Original Thinker, then I must open my thought life to Him, but that isn’t exactly the way it works. I think that I must open myself to the concept that He is present in my thought life. It isn’t like my thought life is some area that is off limits to the Creator of all Thoughts, rather it is me being honest to acknowledge that my thoughts are not off limits but are a place where I can join the incredible dream realm where anything is possible.

Most of the time my thoughts are not an incredible dream world. Many times they are full of doubts, fears, and unsatisfied frustration about the way my physical world hasn’t worked out the way my dreamed world thought it should. I would be embarrassed and ashamed if God knew what my real thoughts were. But maybe that is just it; maybe He knows the frustration - He is just wondering why am I not sharing it with Him.

If my thoughts were like a dance, why would I want to dance alone? I don’t know about you, but my thoughts occupy most of my time. They continue even while I am asleep. Maybe the thought-dream-dance-with-God is the crossing over into a life of contemplation, or what others might call a life of prayer. In that context, it is not some concept I am trying to apply, but it is something that I naturally practice out of self-discipline because it is who I am. I dream and dance in my thoughts everywhere I am.

Friday, January 05, 2007

something's burning

This past summer I spent a week with some people that would change my life forever. It was close quarters as our two families of 5 crammed into a 3-bedroom house. When I sleep I like a ceiling fan above me; so most nights I crashed on the couch in the living room. Each morning I would awake to the aroma of incense. It was really amazing. The thing that made the aroma even more beautiful is that my hosts were in the next room offering the thoughts of their hearts to the One Who listens. I was so captivated each morning by the scent of the day, knowing it was coupled with the prayers of my new friends.

This year to celebrate the dawn of a new kind of humanity, my wife gave me a gift; a small ornate incense box. Each time the smoke rises from the wooden chest, I am reminded of my friends and their care for my family as guests in their home.

This simple wooden chest being porous in nature absorbs the scent of the incense long after it has burned. Each time I walk by it I smell and I remember.

Long ago the fledging people of God were told to create an altar for the burning of incense. The incense was meant to be a symbol, a symbol for the prayers of the people rising up to the One True God. It was to be a reminder to the people. Daily burnings were central to the life of the priests attending the duties of the temple.

I wish I could carry that scent with me. I wish somehow I could be a wooden chest with the burning offering of prayers to the One I love. The peaceful solitude I find when just sitting and taking in the aroma is transcendent. No wonder the scriptures talk about the thoughts of our hearts are like a sweet, sweet smell in the nostrils of an attentive Father. How else could we connect with what it must be like when we humble ourselves and speak from the deepest most insecure part of our being to the One of Being.

May the altar of our lives burn daily with our prayers to the Most Holy One.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

charting the Great Trail

This is the real beginning of a new year. Wow, here we are January 2 and things are heading in a signifigant direction. For so many years Darla and I have planned to make changes in our life after the New Year, but this year is different. Two months ago we began to take a hard look at our finances and the way we spend our money. As a result, we opened a second account for savings and taxes; we talk about purchases with each other before we make them and we are looking for ways to save money so that we might be in a better position to help those who are in need. Two weeks ago we began to take a hard look at our physical condition. We are talking to each other about what we eat and why we eat it. I am drinking more water than I ever have. Losing weight for me is secondary, my real goal is to establish the spiritual discipline of self-control. Darla and I agree that spending, eating, sleeping are all spiritual activities. Meaning that behind each decision to buy, consume, or engage in any activity there is a deeper connection to our inner person.

A wise sage once said, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

For the last year or so I have a couple of things emailed to me on a daily basis. One is a daily life lessons from a messianic Jewish rabbi who looks at each day of life from the bifocals of Jewish culture and Christian heritage. Click here to get it emailed to you. Today he used one of my favorite quotes: “Write down the vision clearly on tablets, so that even a runner can read it (Habakkuk 2:2).” I can’t think of a better way to start off the new year than to write down the things that you would like to change, build upon, or start new. I need reminders to help me remember what it is that I am doing. As a person of faith, remembrance is a life practice. To really live is to remember.

The second thing I have emailed is the daily lectionary readings, which are read by the people of God all across the world and across many denominations. Over a three year period, these reading will take one through the entire sacred history lived through people for thousand of years. click here to get it emailed to you. One of the passages today was Genesis 12, the beginning of the Abrahamic journey, a journey to become a blessing to all the nations. The journey was never a journey to become an exclusive people to themselves, rather it was to become a people who were readily welcomed because of their incredible forgiveness, generosity, and hope in the lives of every family in this age and the age to come.

When I read these two emails, I was encouraged that today is a beginning in many ways, and it is a reminder that we did not just begin this trail today but have walked on and off it for many years.

An experienced journeyman once said, “the only way to keep a trail fresh is to walk on it.”

May you find your feet walking the Great Trail and know that it is not found by any man made maps but is written on your heart.