Saturday, August 1, 2015

Being Fully Present



Right now I am so happy to be in the moment of this day. The first day of August. Summer. Flip flops, shorts and t-shirts. Bare feet in the house. Open windows. Fresh air! Sunshine. Beautiful blue skies. Magnificent columbus clouds floating on by. Thunderstorms. Fresh rain. Flowers. Plants. Warm earth. Bumblebees. Shooting hoops! Sitting on the patio at the end of the day. Relaxing.
Father, for these things I am grateful! “I think you God, for this most amazing day!” (thank you e.e. cummings for that line!)

I'm continually learning how to spend time in the moment.

A monk who lived in the 1500s, named Brother Lawrence, learned, over time, how to remain engaged in the daily activities of life. He stayed aware of God while cutting potatoes and making meals. He was good at bringing love to everything he did. And slowly it changed his countenance to the point that the monks around him noticed. Others outside the monastery began to hear about him and they wanted to know his “secret.” Why was he so loving? Why was he so content? What had he discovered to make him this way?

So he began to tell them.
Being aware of God's presence. Love. It caused him to be deeply thankful for life as he was living it.

Since God is no respecter of persons, God's calling us to the same relevation, to the same ability, to the same kind of intimacy.
There is so much love and mercy and grace to be shared. God is giving us insight. Giving us keys to kingdom living and we can share them. God's promise to us is that as we share, God will give more. This is what being a good steward means. This is what a good steward does – freely sharing what God has given them, knowing it’s all a gift and that there is plenty more where it came from.

God is calling us to gracious living, to absurd giving. God is calling us to cheerfulness and joy that is our strength because it’s God's joy that we are experiencing. God is calling us to a deep reverence an awareness of God's presence in the every day, in the small, in the seemingly insignificant.
photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

Friday, July 31, 2015

It's so easy to get sidetracked!


 
It is so very easy to get sidetracked!

It’s not so much choices made as priorities driving what those choices will be.

Every day we get to choose what are priorities are! Every day we get to make decisions and take action based on those priorities.

I'm beginning to see why it’s a good thing to simply get in the habit of choosing to spend time with God. I'm being reminded of why it's important to have a foundation of deep relationship to stand on.

And without that foundation there isn't solid hope or trust.

It's true that sometimes hope is deferred, but if we're grounded in relationship with God, if we have our priorities right, we'll make the choice to keep trusting!
 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Social Justice from Isaiah 58


 
This morning I work up with a stirring in my soul about social justice.
I knew Isaiah had something very specific to say about this. So I went to Isaiah 58 and began reading from the New Living Translation of the Bible.
As the chapter begins, the nation of Israel is complaining and asking God, why haven’t you helped us? “We’ve fasted before you! They say, ‘Why aren’t you impressed?’
And God answers “I will tell you why! It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even when you fast you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling?"
 
Isaiah interjects: Do you really think this will please the Lord?
God  continues: "No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer, ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness…”
Wow!

How often do I fall into the same trap? Opening my mouth instead of opening my heart?
Looking at oppression and judging it is very easy; looking at oppression and actively doing something about it is hard work. Forgive me Lord for being so quick to point the finger. Help me learn to extend a helping hand instead.
photo credit: from xpectamiracle.blogspot.com quote is from Martin Luther King, Jr.
 

 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Shooting Hoops


This spring, after an absence of about 25 years, I got back in the habit of shooting hoops on an almost daily basis, outside, at local courts.

I love to shoot hoops (basketball). It's not exactly a "Love & Basketball" type of situation, but some days it comes close.

The photo above is from a hoop that's set up in back of a school. It faces about 20 acres of open prairie, which, in turn, feeds into the Bow in the Clouds nature preserve.

So, here are five reasons why I love to shoot hoops:
1. It's fun and you get a workout (especially upper arms, triceps) without realizing it
2. The only equipment you need is a basketball
3. You can shoot whenever, mostly whenever you'd like, especially in the summer months
4. You can track your shooting percentage very easily (how many shots of the past 10 did you make?)
5. You gain the advantage of being outside, in fresh air and sunshine!

An added benefit is that it's a relatively low impact sort of exercise. I'm 63 and I can still shoot from back of the free throw line and make it. When the ball hits the backboard I normally go for the rebound, so that helps add a bit of endurance and leg muscle to the routine.

Shooting hoops teaches me patience and humility (because my shooting percentage hovers around 50%). It also teaches me to persevere - especially in hotter weather! And it's amazingly satisfying to hear the swoosh of a no-net shot!

I'll usually shoot for about 20 minutes and find it's sufficient to keep me in shape and build up arm muscle.

Just as an aside, I'm not advocating that shooting hoops is for everyone. As with any form of exercise, it should be done within reason and with consulting your family doctor, especially if you haven't exercised in a while. A final PS,: When I use the term "hoops" I'm talking about shooting a basketball through a hoop, solo; not actually playing the game of basketball. Have fun!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Seeking the Kingdom First



Jesus said "seek first the kingdom and it’s righteousness and everything else will be given to you." (Matt. 6:33).

It's arguably one of the most powerful promises made in the Bible.

To seek God's kingdom, to seek God before anything else. Everything flows from that relationship. Everything in the kingdom exists to promote relationship and the fruit of it. There is nothing superficial about it.

That isn’t to say that there isn’t pleasure or beauty, because those things are found in abundance and they are found because there is nothing counterfeit to get in the way of their expression.

Perfection is found in God's presence. Love, mercy, grace, peace, wisdom, understanding – they are all found in their perfect form in God's presence. Because perfection is found in God's presence, completeness is found, and because completeness is found there is an intimacy that has its roots in the eternal.

Eyes are opened, hearts are made pure, souls are free to express their truest self. Freedom, in its truest form is attained. No lack, only fufillment. No sorrow, only joy.


All of this to say that when we practice being in God's presence, we are actually practicing getting our soul ready for eternity in the kingdom.

photo credit: www.businessgrow.com

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Wellspring of Joy


God's joy flows out of a wellspring of thanksgiving. This isn’t knowledge-based as much as it is experienced. There is a discipline that sets the foundation, for it; a longing that sets in motion a seeking. An appetite develops and is only satisfied with the pure form.
Remember when Jesus said, seek, knock ask and you’ll find? There is an implied satisfaction. A longing fulfilled, an intimacy attained. At the same time comes the realization that there is no limit, there are no boundaries, there is always enough and always more. There is a state of continual overflow that influences others.
This is the essence of kingdom living. Other-centeredness. Wholeness. This goes beyond contentment to the desire of the heart becoming a tree of life, providing shade and sustenance.

There is simply nothing like it!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Joy



Isn’t it interesting that God's joy isn’t contingent upon life events or circumstance? God's joy is independent from the cares of the day. It’s totally unrelated to politics or world events. It’s not dependent upon our emotions. God's joy isn’t a feeling, it’s a decision. It’s a result of relationship, not what we may or may not have.

God's joy is completely unrelated to social position or material possessions or prestige. It flows from friendship not finances. God's joy is the essence of being content, comfortable, at ease in all things.


God's joy is fueled by thanksgiving. Being thankful for the everyday. God's joy in turn, fuels compassion and mercy and grace. Joy-filled people tend to be generous, loving and kind. In fact you could say that some of the fruit of joy is exactly those things.


God's joy sharpens our focus and expands our vision to see others’ suffering and share what we have been given with others. God's joy gives and doesn’t count the cost. God's joy is both the fruit and the foundation of deep love and intimacy.


(photo above from plaidheart.wordpress.com)