One of the things I have decided to do is start journaling again-regularly. I'm online a lot, and I blog, but this is very different. Sometimes I jot down thoughts about my reading, or a put down prayers, problems, or meditations.
I noticed during the times I have not kept a journal it's be hard to keep track to chronological time, and what God is doing in me, and in the things surrounding me as well. Keeping a journal makes it much easier to reflect on God's faithfulness, my personal growth, and reoccurring patterns I need to investigate. It's easy to splice up life, and lose track.
Do you journal, or keep track of your days?
Do you ever write down prayers?
* I'm giving away a leather bound journal as my first February prize. On the front is a small graphite sketch I drew. You can email me your address to get it, after I post the specific directions needed to be submitted to be chosen. I will post this soon.
I was just at a congregational church meeting today. It lasted what seemed like forever. It made me thirsty, and I imagined how nice it would be to have a large beverage and a over-sized cup holder in the pew in front of me to hold it. Maybe a tray table could unfold, and a salty snack would make the whole thing more comfortable. Someone mentioned a cooler in each pew, and a BYOB (not bible) policy would be helpful. The meeting would seem shorter. Someone kept immediately seconding any motion proposed. It seemed our ideas could have been proposed and approved, but we didn't mention them. Soon another person got up and people bringing drinks in the sanctuary has been a big and messy problem. Cleaning expenses, and respect shouldn't be taken lightly.
I wonder where the balance is. We need to be sure the environment is welcoming, and not stuffy. If someone in their 20s rolls out of bed and needs some caffeine, and brings a travel mug to church, it's really good that they are there. Should we really post a sign banning their beverage and their habit? On the other hand, spills WILL happen, no doubt. Is the place of worship a special spot that should be clean and different than other spots in the building? I tilt toward a comfortable environment, maybe reinventing the space. If the carpet is the issue, rip it out. Better that people sit on mats, holding coffee, and loving God and each other, than feeling pushed away for something like what they drink. But, compromise is also important. Dialogue, peaceful relationships. The love of God, not agendas.
The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector - 18:9 Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else. 18:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. 18:12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ 18:13 The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’ 18:14 I tell you that this man went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This is an interesting parable. When we place ourselves in it and image we are the Pharisee, we would think, "I'm not really all that bad." If we are the tax collector." We would think, "Lord, I need you." Either way we stand to get it wrong. But why?
This parable by centrifugal force pops us back out of the parable to examen our true motives and attitudes. In truth, Pride is an ingrained human trait, a sickness, of which we are blind to. When when hear stories about it, it's usually heard as a message for "the other guy". Sure, we might be repentant, and ask God for mercy, but as we become self-satisfied with this gesture, we are back where we started in a Pharisaical mindset, thinking nothing much is wrong with us.
We bounce back and forth like this, between the two, in a polemic dynamic, though sometimes not realizing it. What might we do about it? We can start by realizing our utter dependency on grace. What a long way we have to go.
Jesus was above all things, humble. This was his chief character trait. This is quite shocking. Why would GOD have to be humble? He shouldn't have to be. He doesn't have to be. This truly is the way of God. We don't know this way, or even understand it. It's totally against our nature, and our ingraining.
The the tiny and powerful book by Andrew Murray, "Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness" shows the ministry and example of Jesus in an amazing way I never considered before.
As I begin my paper/project for my "Christians and Contemporary Spirituality" graduate class, something about the Trinity rises to the surface quite quickly.
I'm exploring the best-selling book "The Shack" to see if it can be helpful in reflecting God and the profound mystery of the Trinity for us through narrative in a useable way. Of course God is impossible to box, describe fully, or measure, but we can try presentations to "wrap our brains around" (as if it were possible) the Divine nature in our attempt to love and grow in relationship toward the Divine.
What is evident is that Trinity is relational and loving within "Itself" and is the perfect model of community and Christian love. When we model Triune love, we do well in modeling the love God wishes for us to have for each other.
Humanity will continue to show its flaws, and the (local) church as well, but it will also continue to have a model of perfect love exemplified in the Trinity.
How does your church show Triune love right now? How might it do it in ways it is not at present?
Does anyone see your potential, in your life, or in your ministry?
In the section "Being Known by Others" in the book "The Space Between Us: Exploring the Dimensions of Human Relationships" by Ruthellen Josselson, Josselson speaks of those who can find in us the "self that we are becoming." These people can see our true potential, and into our future, like Jesus did with the rag-tag fellows he picks for his followers. We say of these people later, "they believed in me." And we believe in their believing. They entice from us our best, because they see that we can do better than what we are doing now.
If you are not this kind of person, you can develop this quality. Look for goodness in others.
If you do not have this type of person in your life, then you are not surrounding yourself with the kind of environment to be your best self, or reach your fullest potential. Some one should see you a step ahead of where you are, and be loving you now just the same.